Sequel to Blind Faith. Harry's second year at Hogwarts begins and something sinister stalks the halls. Muggleborns are being petrified by someting unknown, and just who could be the Heir of Slyth...
Blind Faith 2, chapter 5 No Defence is Best
Entering Professor Flitwick's office, Harry faltered on sensing his aunt's presence. Her aura was so full of anger and fear that it was almost unrecognisable.
"Aunt Petunia, I'm sorry about all the trouble-"
Harry was stunned by the impact of Petunia's open palm across his cheek. He'd barely had the chance to raise one had and feel his stinging face when his aunt grabbed him with a strangled sob and pulled Harry tight against her chest, dragging Harry to his knees as her own legs became too weak to support her.
"You stupid boy," she choked out. "Never - never do that again."
"But Aunt Petunia," Harry said, trying to explain.
"You're all I have left!" Petunia Cried. "You and my Dudders are all the family we have. With all that happened to you last year, and now this... I have half a mind to take you out of this infernal school tonight and bugger the magical world!"
As Petunia raved on, Harry got progressively more worried about her. He knew that she would be upset by getting separated like that at King's Cross, but her reaction seemed a bit too much. Harry suspected that the violent deaths of so many of her immediate family may have had far more profound an effect than anyone thought. Not really sure how to help, Harry decided he needed to speak with Professor Snape about her as soon as he possibly could.
After Petunia had calmed down, Harry made several promises not to stray again, nor go looking for trouble. He sat with her for another half hour telling her about what had happened outside the platform along with his and Draco's little adventure in Hogsmeade.
When she had calmed enough, Harry and Professor Fl.itwick walked Petunia down to the entry hall, where Hagrid stood waiting to escort her back to the Shrieking Shack.
Giving his aunt one last hug, Harry turned and walked with his head of house as they went towards the Ravenclaw tower. As they did, Harry's curiosity got the better of him and he asked, "Professor, do you know why they split up the Merlins?"
"I don't understand," Harry replied.
"According to legend," Filius explained, "the founders erected Hogwarts over a thousand years ago. They didn't do it alone, however. It is said that Merlin himself lent a great portion of his magic to this place, making it one of the greatest magical strongholds in the world. Having put so much into the school's formation, he was given a certain say in how it was to be run. In the early years of Hogwarts, there were no houses. Instead, there were seven dormitories, each meant to house students of a particular year. For a time it worked just fine, the children attended their classes and things seemed well.
"Unfortunately, as it is with children and most adults for that matter, fights began to break out between the students." Harry could sense they were approaching the Ravenclaw tower and felt a pang of disappointment. He wanted to hear the rest of what the professor had to say. He was pleased, therefore, when Filius passed the portrait by and continued relating his tale.
"to minimize conflicts among the students, the founders created four houses, each exemplifying a set of traits that each of them favoured. Rowena Ravenclaw valued intelligence and logic; Godric Gryffindor believed that a wizard should be brave and bold; Helga Hufflepuff was the embodiment of hard work and loyalty; lastly, Salazar Slytherin preached that it was through ambition and guile that a wizard or witch would find his destiny.
"The students were re-divided and a hat of Godric's was charmed to read the children's mind and sort them into their proper houses. Life went on at the school and fights among the students did decrease. In its place, however, was an animosity between some of the newly formed houses that was nearly as bad.
"This is what Merlin came back to after years of travels. Seeing the unnecessary fighting as wasteful, he created the Merlin's Crest as a bridge between the houses. The crest was awarded to children that shared the traits of all houses in nearly equal proportions. He had hoped that his Merlins would act as ambassadors between them.
"Unfortunately, none of the houses trusted them, seeing each as a possible spy for the others. The students wearing the merlin's crest were shunned and belittled, regardless of what merlin or any of the founders did to try and make them see.
"Overwhelmed by the harassment, the Merlins refused to wear the crest. Seeing no other choice, the founders asked the sorting hat to quit awarding it. Disheartened by the short-sightedness of both students and staff, Merlin left the school and never returned."
"But why were we a house last year and not now?" Harry asked.
"We forgot," Filius answered. "It was so long ago that nobody remembered what the Merlins were supposed to be. We assumed that you would have your own house and function just as the others, it was only this summer, researching through archives sealed nearly since the schools creation, that we found the true history behind the crest.
By this time they had again come up to the portrait guarding Ravenclaw Tower. Wishing Professor Flitwick goodnight, Harry gave the password and headed up to the boy's dorms. Declining several offers to guide his way, the last bringing his temper up enough that it made Hedwig rise up with an angry hiss. Finding his room and bed, Harry quickly changed and slipped under the covers. The day had been long and exhausting; somehow he knew that that tomorrow would be no better.
Dawn's early light played across Harry's features as a solemn tune flowed hauntingly from his flute. The young Ravenclaw was sitting on the parapet of the Astronomy Tower with Hedwig and Loki both curled up on the stone beside him. The coatl gently swayed to the music Harry played, though he could only tell by the changing position of her rhythmic hissing.
One of Harry's true regrets is that he had never 'seen' Hedwig. The coatl had always been, and still was, invisible to the Ravenclaw's senses. The thought had occurred to him that he needed a magical photo of her, but Harry wasn't sure how to go about it.
Harry's situation with Loki was the exact opposite, however. Because of the miniature Dragon's chameleon-like ability, most of the time it was virtually invisible to everyone but Harry. The little Dragon glowed like a beacon to him, his magical signature growing stronger and more detailed every day. Loki sat, crooning along as his master played, stopping only when an unfortunate insect would wander just a bit too close and become part of breakfast.
"You play beautifully," said a feminine voice from nearby. "Sal was right when he said you had talent."
"Thanks," Harry answered. "Who are you?"
A sense of amusement washed over Harry as the mystery woman's aura slowly became visible. "Right to business then," she said. "I'm a friend of Sal's, you can call me Ro."
"Ro... Rowena Ravenclaw?"
"Just full of surprises this morning, aren't you Harry?" said Sal as he appeared before the Ravenclaw's senses.
A huge smile broke out on Harry's face at the sound of his mentor's voice. Sal had taught him more in their 'training' sessions than all of his professors put together. Not only that, but Harry thought of him as a true friend.
"So you know who we are, then?" asked Sal, his voice full of amusement.
"It wasn't that hard, really, I mean, Sal, Ric, Ro... Once I quit forgetting your names when you weren't around, it was so obvious! So, what do you call Helga Hufflepuff?"
"They call me mum," broke in a third voice as its owner gently lay her hands on his shoulders and rubbed them lightly. A warm feeling spread through Harry's entire body, energizing him as if he'd just drank a Pepperup Potion.
"That's nice," Harry sighed. "How do you do that?"
"Sal isn't the only one with things to teach you, Harry."
"But why me?" Harry asked with a frown. "Why would the founders, who've supposedly been dead for nearly a thousand years, want to teach me all this?"
"Well, firstly," Sal explained, "we are indeed the founders - after a fashion."
"What do you mean?"
"When we created Hogwarts, we put a little of ourselves into it. A bit of our blood was mixed with the mortar and we used our magic to gather and arrange the stones that she's built from. It was when the structure was finished, however, that we began truly making Hogwarts what it is. We had to imbue the castle with magic. Not just spells and wards, but to actually become a magical thing. There were weeks of rituals and castings, all leading up to her christening. In that final ceremony, we each split off a bit of our very souls and joined them with the castle."
"So you're like an echo of Salazar?"
"Far more than that, Harry," Sal explained. I am every bit what Salazar was when we split. My part just continued its life as one of Hogwarts custodians, while he kept on with our old body. The only restriction we have, is that we're bound to the school and its rules and magics. That's why I couldn't do more last term against Quirrell. He wasn't an outsider attempting to harm the school, he was a professor."
"So you're really them," Harry whispered. "You haven't said, though. Why are you bothering to teach me all this?"
"You have some unique gifts," hedged Sal with a smooth tone. "and we're teachers, even if we are 'retired'. I won't lie to you, there are some other reasons, but I'm going to hold off telling you about them for now, leave it to say, it's something we all want, and that you need."
"Are we still training in the mornings then?" Harry asked hopefully.
"Of course. You can even bring your blond friend along with you as he already knows we exist. No one else though. We value our privacy, if it becomes known to others we're here, we'll never get any peace. Time is getting away from you, however, It's nearly time for breakfast." Harry's mentor said as he pulled the boy to his feet. "Remember, tomorrow at the room of requirement as usual."
Bidding his mentors farewell, Harry wandered down the steps of the Astronomy tower. He'd wanted to stay, there were a million questions floating around in his head, all begging for answers. He knew, however, that there wasn't time now, and tomorrow's training would come soon enough. Along with that, another voice, a bit lower in his body, and currently much louder than the ones with questions, was telling him that breakfast would be a good thing.
Making it to the great hall with his cane leading the way, Harry at the Merlin table, he noticed that neither Draco or any of the other Slytherins were present. The rest of the Merlins were there, however, and busily discussing what had happened the night before.
"Morning Harry," said Terry, the other Merlin from Ravenclaw. "Where did you go this morning. When I went to get you up, you were already gone."
"I was stargazing," Harry replied smoothly. He'd half expected some sarcastic comment from Draco, and was a bit disappointed when it didn't come. "Where are the Slytherins?"
"Looks like they're at the table with the rest of their house," Terry answered. "They don't look very happy about it either."
Harry grimaced, wondering what the problem could be. He was about to get up and head over when he found himself wrestling with Hedwig. Post owls had just arrived and the coatl was struggling madly to go up and 'play' with her friends. Remembering last years problems, Harry held on to his pet firmly until the last owl found a roost.
As he'd tried to keep Hedwig under control, Harry couldn't help but notice two powerfully glowing letters being delivered. To his inner eye they were little red suns with yellow and white sparks erupting from them faster and faster. One was dropped at the Gryffindor table, and the other, their own.
Neville, the recipient of the odd letter let out a squeak of fear as he stared at his post. "It's a howler-"
"Best get it over with," suggested somebody further down the table. "It'll only get worse."
Trembling in anticipation of what was to come, Neville used his butter knife to slit open the envelope and release the letter's magic. As if synchronized, Ron opened his at the same time and a pair of furious female voices rang out through the hall.
"Ronald Bilius Weasley!"
"How could you?"
"What were you thinking?"
"Your father's car!"
"Your parent's would be so disappointed."
The dressing down went on for a full two minutes. Each new tirade seemed to push Neville lower in his seat, until at the end, only his hair was visible over the table top. When the magical missives finally ended and exploded in balls of confetti, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Feeling a bit sorry for Neville, Harry was about to try saying something comforting when he was distracted by the arrival of Professor Flitwick.
"I have your time tables, declared Harry's Head of House as he handed them to his Merlins.
Casually running his hand over his new schedule, Harry paused, and did it again with a frown on his face.
"Professor?" Harry asked. As he stepped away from the table.
"What can I do for you?" Flitwick asked with a bit of apprehension in his voice.
"I think there's a problem with my schedule. They forgot to put me down for Defence Against Dark Arts this term."
"Ah," answered Filius after a pause. "Well, you see Harry, after a long discussion between the Headmaster and the rest of the staff, we thought it best that you forgo DADA for a few terms. You can see that Professor Dumbledore has you down for class in the Hospital Wing with Madam Pomfrey while the rest of your classmates are in Defence."
"What about me, though, Don't I get to learn to defend myself?"
"You're a healer, Harry," Said Dumbledore, who'd approached unnoticed while Harry had been busy with Professor Flitwick. "You have a natural talent that should be nurtured and made to flourish. That being the case, we're just tailoring your classes to suit your eventual profession. In a few years, we'll do some basic defence classes as part of your healers training. For now, though, it really isn't necessary."
"This is not negotiable, Mr Potter," the headmaster interrupted. "Your Transfiguration and Charms work last term were barely acceptable. I'm going to ask you to trust me in that I know what's best for my students."
Far from happy with the situation, but knowing that he wasn't going to budge the headmaster, Harry grumpily agreed to try his new schedule. Grumbling under his breath, Harry was about to excuse himself when Professor Dumbledore added, "You remember Remus Lupin, don't you Harry? He met you at your last birthday party, I believe. It turns out that he's been quite ill lately and under considerable stress. I'd ask you to take any communications you receive with a grain of salt. The years have been hard on Mr Lupin since your parent's deaths, and I'm afraid he's seeing shadows where they don't exist."
Harry paused a moment, waiting for a further explanation. He didn't remember ever meeting Lupin before his birthday party,and though Harry did admit that Remus had looked a bit under the weather, the picture painted by the headmaster in no way matched the man he'd spent a good part of that day with. Apparently finished with their conversation, the professor told Harry to head for his first class and enjoy the day as he turned to leave.
"What was that all about?" Terry asked as Harry sat back down. Studying his face, he asked more quietly, "What's wrong?"
"They took me out of DADA," growled Harry vehemently. "Dumbledore said I wouldn't need it."
"That's crazy! It's not just about preparing for a job, Defence is about being able to protect yourself from dark magic or creatures you could run into anywhere!"
"He wouldn't even allow me to question it, Harry answered in agreement. "I think he expects me to live the rest of my life with Aunt Petunia protecting me."
"Then we'll just have to keep you up outside classes," Terry declared as they headed for their first class. "Have you looked through any of the new defence books yet?"
"I never got a chance. After we bought them in Diagon Alley, we spent the rest of holiday packing for our move, why?"
"They're worthless," Terry spat. "He spends more time talking about how he styles his hair, than what he did to defeat the monsters he talks about in them.
"You have him this afternoon?" Harry asked. That's my first healing class."
"Yeah, last period," answered Terry as they reached the classroom and took a table together. "Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The Ravenclaws double with Hufflepuff."
"Could you meet me in the new common room after class lets out?" Harry continued, "I just want to know what he covered."
Before Terry could answer, Professor McGonagall bustled into the room and started her class. Lessons this year would revolve around transfiguring living things into inanimate objects, then back again. Their lesson that day was to change a mouse into a teacup.
Harry grinned to himself as he ran his senses over the mouse he'd been given. He hadn't gotten a chance to read ahead of class, but Harry had done so much research the previous term that he felt he could do this with little problem. It also helped he was starting with something alive. He could sense the mouse easily and direct the magic to his wishes with little problem.
While not first to complete the transfiguration, that honour went to Mandy Brocklehurst, Harry was one of the first few. Last term, Harry had been working with the Gryffindors in many of his classes. Now, surrounded by his fellow Ravenclaws, he really began to notice the differences between the two houses. Gryffindors were easily frustrated and acted out , sometimes angrily, when things didn't go their way. Ravenclaw's were a bit more patient, and would simply go back to researching a spell if it didn't work properly. Sometimes, however, they buried themselves in their books and lost sight of their original goal as they continued to dig up new facts.
Harry saw himself somewhere in between the two, perhaps with a little Hufflepuff persistence thrown in. Still, Harry thought he liked working with the Ravenclaws best. It was nice as well that there was no intense rivalry between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, unlike the other two houses. Both seemed more focused on the class and their subject matter than how they looked in front of the other house. They continued transfiguring the mouse to a teacup and back for the rest of the period, until the bell sounded for their next class.
On their way to Herbology, Harry and some of the other Ravenclaws were nearly run over by some second year Gryffindors being chased by tiny flying creatures with blue and purple auras. Some of the pixies began to zip around the group when one of them, recognising Harry's cane and glasses and mistaking them for a weakness, dived, screaming at Harry trying to scare him.
Months of training with Sal had Honed Harry's reflexes, however, and he snatched the little blue pixie out of the air before it even realized it had been caught.
"Bloody hell," breathed Terry. "How did you do that?"
"Do what?" Harry asked as he released the irate little monster.
Free, the the little pixie zipped a safe distance from Harry and turned with and evil expression on its face. Moments later, however its blue face went completely white as a serpentine head rose out of the folds in Harry's robe and regarded the its potential snack with interest. Harry didn't know much about these creatures, but he could guess that its little heart must have nearly stopped at the sight of Hedwig licking her chops. It restarted quickly enough, however and the pixie flew away screaming as Hedwig launched herself from his shoulders and flew off in pursuit of the little monster, with Loki close behind, screeching in excitement.
The Ravenclaws stood a moment in silence, then broke into giggles as they ran on to their next class. After their first encounter, there was little to be seen of the pixies, as they seemed to be more interested in hiding than causing problems.
Harry made it through Herbology with a bit of difficulty. They were working with infant Mandrakes and because their ears had to be covered, Harry had to pretend to do everything by feel. It was difficult, and though their screeching could knock you out, Harry didn't find it all dangerous, at least not compared to lunch in the great hall."
From the Slytherin's behaviour at breakfast, Harry guessed that they planned on keeping their Merlins from mixing with the other houses. Through Lucius' manipulations last year, Harry had nearly lost his friendship with Draco, though in the end, neither Malfoy Sr, nor the machinations of Voldemort himself could keep them apart. Harry wasn't about to let a few Slytherin upper-classmen get between them now.
Murmuring a quick explanation to Terry and the other Merlins, he got up and made his way over to the Slytherin table. Making a show of using his cane to navigate across the great hall. Harry cleared his throat as he reached the Slytherin table and asked about his friends.
"Have any of you seen Draco, Blaise or Millicent? They weren't at breakfast today, and I was getting worried."
"You should worry about your own house, Ravenclaw," snarled one of the upper-classmen. Flint was his name, Harry was almost sure. "They're not Merlins anymore, they're Slytherin. Besides, they're not here, they're eating together in our common room to avoid your lot."
"From down the table there came a muffled squeak and a murmured 'Silencio'. That alone would have raised Harry's suspicions. Having his inner sight, however, Harry was more than capable of sensing his friends presence, though they were being held in place by their housemates.
Moving down the table in his friends direction, Harry continued to talk to Flint, who'd risen as Harry passed and was stalking threateningly behind him.
"You know, it's odd," Harry said, "Draco's dad bought him some really expensive cologne from the orient last Christmas. Awful stuff, smells like a wet goat to me, but Draco loves the stuff. He wears it every day and never shares a drop."
Stopping beside his silenced friends, Harry made a show of taking a deep breath and wrinkling his nose. "Odd," he said in mock confusion. "I smell it now." Reaching out to search for the person wearing the cologne, Harry let his hand come in contact with the boundary of the silencing spell. Like he had with Hermione's binding spell and the geas charm, Harry quickly unravelled the simple spell and banished it.
"Draco," Harry said in mock surprise, "why didn't you come sit with the Merlins?"
Sounding a bit uncomfortable, Draco answered, "It was decided that we weren't Slytherin enough and needed to be around them more."
"Really, Professor Snape said that?" Harry asked in disbelief.
"I said that," growled Flint as he took Harry's shoulder roughly and spun him around. It was very nearly the last thing he ever did, however, as Hedwig appeared, almost magically, between the two boys, hovering, and preparing to spit her venom into Flint's eyes.
"Hedwig! Harry said with joy, doing nothing to restrain the serpent. Flint, you've met my pet, haven't you? She's a coatl. They're great, she's super smart and delivers mail faster than any owl, more reliable too. No one can take a message from her because she can spit venom. It's nasty stuff. Its like acid and would burn through a man's body in less than a minute. They'd be dead already though, the poison in it would stop your... I mean it would stop its victims heart a second after it hit their blood. She's safe though, I mean it's not like she'd do it to anybody. They'd have to do something threatening to her or somebody she cares about."
Flint's face, which had gone a bit pale when the coatl appeared, was now bone white as Hedwig bobbed and weaved less than a foot from his face. Taking a step back from her, Flint turned to Harry and said in a shaky, and barely threatening tone, "She can't be around you all the time."
"Oh, but that's just it, she won't. I came over here because she and Draco got on famously last year and she missed him. I was going ask if he would let her stay with him for while." Hedwig, apparently understanding her master's words, turned away from Flint, who looked ready to collapse in relief and looked at Harry in askance.
"It's just for a while, girl." Harry replied. "Some people need a little bit of help accepting new situations." Nodding to her master's words, Hedwig flew over and wrapped herself across Draco's shoulders before sneaking under his collar and slipping inside his shirt. Harry took the opportunity created when the Slytherins nearest Draco scooted away, and sat down by his friend. The blond tried desperately not to lose his cool as the coatl tickled his entire upper body while she made herself comfortable.
When she'd finally settled, Draco turned to his friend and asked in a hesitant, yet hopeful voice, do you mean it? About Hedwig I mean."
"Of course I do. She really does miss you, you know. And I'm not letting some seventh year tell me who I can and can't be friends with."
A smile broke out on Draco's face that Harry felt, rather than saw. It quickly clouded over, though as a new thought came over him.
"What do you mean, I smell like a wet goat?"
Harry laughed at the sound of several people choking on their pumpkin juice, while Draco stared daggers at him. "Only a little!" he snickered. I think maybe you put on a bit much."
Unintentionally, Draco had broken the ice for conversation around the table, and Harry sat with the Slytherins as they finished their lunch. Chatting Merrily with the other Merlins, Harry slowly pulled some of the younger Slytherins into the conversation, arguing, as always, over Quidditch.
So what did you think of Lockhart as a defence teacher, asked Harry, bringing the subject back to their school work.
"It's a bigger joke than I feared," the blond answered in disgust. He gave us a pop-quiz and it had questions about what his birthday was and what was his favourite colour. The next thing we know, he's set a cage full of Cornish pixies loose in the classroom and he cant control them. He left it for us to try and put them back, so we left."
"I'm suddenly glad I don't have him," Harry sighed.
"You don't?" who's teaching you defence then?"
"Nobody," Harry shrugged. Professor Dumbledore seems to think that I'll never need to know it, so he's replaced it in my schedule with classes in the infirmary."
Confusion dominated Draco's aura as he muttered, "I'd thought defence was required at least through fifth year."
"Apparently not for me, " Harry answered, his voice tinged with bitterness. "Dumbledore apparently thinks the class would be too dangerous."
"So you're just going to accept that?" Draco asked in disbelief.
"Hardly," Harry answered after taking another drink of pumpkin juice. "I'll study defence in my free time, then there's the mornings," he added quietly. 'You've been invited as well. I was going to try and follow along with the class, just reading through the assigned books, but from what Terry told me, I might have to find another text.
It was at that moment, Harry's skin started to crawl. It wasn't a feeling like he was in danger, more like being watched. Reaching out with his senses, Harry noticed somebody standing nearby, radiating nervous excitement.
Draco, who'd noticed Harry's initial tension, asked, "What?"
"What can I do for you Colin," Harry called over his shoulder. "I know you're there. I can smell the flash-powder on your clothes."
Colin hiccuped in fear at being caught out, though having the entire Slytherin table now staring at him didn't help much. Screwing up his courage, the spindly boy came over to stand by Harry.
"Hi," began the first year haltingly. "I'm Colin Creevey, I'm in Gryffindor..." Colin's face turned bright red as he realized that Harry had already called him by name. Evil snickers and sneezes that sounded suspiciously like 'Gryffindork' ran up and down the table as the first year tried to keep from running away.
Taking Pity on him, Harry asked, "What can I do for you Colin?"
Holding up something small in his hands, Colin answered, "I was... I was wondering if I could have a picture."
"A picture," the Creevey boy said again, becoming more animated as he spoke, "to prove I really met you. I take pictures of everything at home. Dad says I'll be a reporter or something when I'm older. Anyway I heard all about how You-Know-Who tried to kill you when you were little and that you beat him. I thought it would be great to get your picture. A boy in my dormitory said that if I develop it in the right potion, that it moves! I couldn't believe it, I didn't believe in magic either before I got my letter. My dads the same, he's a milk man. I'm taking loads of pictures to send him. You think your friend would take a picture of the two of us and you could sign it?"
Dead silence reigned at the Slytherin table for a handful of heartbeats. A few, Harry was sure, were still trying to figure out all of what excited boy had actually said. Most of them, however, were waiting for Draco's reaction to being asked to perform house elf duties.
The Malfoy heir, for his part, seemed stunned beyond reason. He sat staring at Colin like the Gryffindor had grown a second head. Feeling the swirl of emotions coming from his friend, Harry had never wished more that he could still see. The look on Draco's face had to be priceless. Any amusement Harry felt toward the situation dimmed, however, as Draco started to become angrier.
"Draco," Harry said lightly as possible. "He didn't mean anything, he's just excited." Turning to Colin, and fighting an insane fit of giggles, he said, "You're the first person to actually ask if they could take my picture. I'll tell you what, I'll let take a few, but I don't think Draco is interested in helping. No more after this though, and no autographs."
"Autographs?" asked a pompous and all too familiar voice. "Who's signing autographs?" Professor Lockhart stepped up to the table, completely missing glares from the Slytherins. Apparently he'd been on his way out of the hall when he'd heard their conversation.
"Oh," Lockhart said, finally seeing the Merlins among the Slytherins. "I should have known, Hello, Harry. Getting a few shots in for you fans?" The professor clapped his hands down on Harry's shoulders, missing the sudden tension in them and the eerie green light that began to glow behind his glasses.
"Don't touch me," Harry said in a forced-calm voice.
"Nonsense my boy, let's give the lad a thrill. The Boy Who Lived and Gilderoy Lockhart together as a team."
"I said, Don't touch me!" Growled Harry, loud enough to be heard throughout the hall as a fat spark of energy seemed to leap from his shoulders and burn the professor's hands. Yelping in fear and pain, Gilderoy was completely unaware of Professor Snape's approach until the potions master had him by the arm.
"Professor Lockhart," he said through gritted teeth. Please come with me to the headmaster's office - now." Pulling the other professor so hard that both feet nearly left the ground, Snape left the Great Hall without another word.
Draco, turning back to Harry, said, "Sometimes you're a little Scary. You really should ask one of the Professors about your eyes though."
"What about them?"
"That's the second time I've seen them glowing like that since the end of summer holidays. I've never seen anybody do that before."
Shrugging non-committally, Harry asked Draco to meet him after classes in the new common room before heading towards the hospital wing.
For all his complaints about missing out on Defence classes for healing, Harry found his second year classes in the infirmary to be both challenging and fun. First year they'd gone through simple first-aid spells and potions. Now, however, the true work began. Poppy outlined the first half of their term as an intense study of human and non-human anatomy. The second half would be a study of magical cores and how they affected, and were affected by a wizard or witches physical condition.
When she showed him his course books, Harry was actually grateful that she refused to let him take them from the infirmary. Several of the giant tomes had to weigh more than he did. He was tempted to ask her about his eyes, but in the end he decided to wait and ask Sal in the morning. He didn't want Poppy any more curious about him than she already was.
When his time there was done, Harry went back to the Merlin Common Room. Entering, he noticed how very different it had become now that it was to be a central meeting place for all the houses. He'd entered it through a door in the Ravenclaw common room. From what he'd heard, there were similar doors, newly placed in the common room of each house.
From what his senses told him, each door was placed at one of the four cardinal points in the huge circular room. Along the wall between the doors were couches, tables and cushy chairs, all arranged to make the room open, yet give giving the students little nooks where they could gather to study. At the centre of the room was a huge open hearth, easily twenty feet across, with a low fire burning in it at all times.
Settling himself in one of the chairs by the fire, Harry pulled one of Lockhart's books out of his bag of holding, Wandering with Werewolves and began to read. After ten minutes, Harry closed the book in disgust and tossed it into the fire before pulling out another , to begin reading all over again.
This was how Terry and Draco found him some time later. Sitting curled up in a chair, a huge pile of ash in the fire beside him and an unfamiliar book in his lap.
"What are you reading? Asked Draco as he sat down in another chair across from Harry.
"It's a defence book. I bought it when we were in Diagon Alley that day we met up."
"I thought you were going to try and follow us with Lockhart's books."
Grimacing, Harry answered, "I was going to, but then I read them. The man is an idiot. None of them made any real sense. It was written like some trashy romance novel. Anyway, I got rid of them and decided I'd look through some other books I bought."
"Different Defence books?" asked Terry as he plopped down on the arm of Harry's chair. What kind? Ooh, VanHelsing's Creatures of the Dark! I've always wanted to read this! You think we can go through it together? I ought to get some kind of defence training this year anyway."
"Stand in line, Boot" Draco nearly snarled. "I was here first, If Harry studies with anybody, it'll be me."
"Why don't we all do it together," Harry called out in exasperation, before a real fight could break out. There's a lot to cover anyway and Draco can probably have his dad find another copy or two. We'll go through the other ones I bought and maybe pick a couple more we can study together."
"Er... right," said both Terry and Draco, both embarrassed that they hadn't thought to work as a team. Pulling out a piece of parchment, Draco brightened and put it in Harry's hand. "This is from Professor Snape, he cornered me earlier and asked that I get it to you. Something about you needing it before the weekend."
Opening the note with a small frown, Harry ran his fingers over the parchment while reading it with his inner sight as well. His frown disappeared immediately, to be replaced by an excited grin.
"He found it!"
"Found what?" the other two asked in confusion.
"Draco, remember I told you that Severus was looking up a spell for me, Animadvirto de sanus. Severus found the wand movements for it. This is my way to try out for the house team! I can play Quidditch!