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Nie wyrażamy zgody na kopiowanie i umieszczanie naszych ficków i tłumaczeń na chomikach itp.
Ariel & Gobuss
| Chapter 10 - "Isn't something missing?" |
|10. Isn't something missing?|
And if I bleed, I'll bleed,
Knowing you don't care.
Maybe someday you'll look up,
And, barely conscious, you'll say to no one:
"Isn't something missing?"*
Tuesday morning at the Great Hall, there was the usual buzz and talk and clatter of plates and cutlery. The three friends were sitting at the table. Well, in any case, Hermione and Ron were sitting, as Harry seemed to be tilted more from side to side or raised from his seat for a while pretending to choose something from the plates, or reaching for the salt for the tenth time.
“Harry, what’s going on? Something bothering you?” Ron’s voice was anxious. “You keep fidgeting and wincing.”
Harry cleared his throat and ceased fidgeting, although he couldn’t sit still even for a moment. His butt hurt so much, as if something was still in there. Like a very long and very hard broomstick.
“No.” He tried to make his voice not sound too nervous. “No, I’m fine.”
He noticed that Hermione, who was sitting in front of him, blushed delicately and looked down. Harry followed suit, and again changes his sitting position so that the pain eased a bit. He didn’t know how he would manage to survive today’s classes. Fortunately, the first one would be Defense, and this lesson rarely included sitting, especially since this subject’s teacher was the extraordinary Nymphadora Tonks.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a dark silhouette at the staff table. An electric jolt went through his body. mBut this time, rather than warming him, it chilled him.
“I’m not hungry,” he muttered, pushing away his plate and getting up from the table. Ron and Hermione looked at him with surprise. “I’ll meet you in the classroom.”
As he walked between the tables, he felt Snape’s intense gaze at his back. He noticed with astonishment that he had been holding his breath as he hurried out, and finally released it with a loud sigh, at long last in the corridor. He moved slowly toward the classroom.
He promised himself that he wouldn’t think about him. He wouldn’t recall yesterday. He would never go back to it! He had to erase it from his memory. Completely and forever!
How could he have been such a fool? How could he have thought that he could ever make Snape depend on him, even just a little? No one could force someone to change himself. To change his lifestyle. And the most impossible thing to do is force someone like Snape - a man without any feelings, or even a little compassion - to change.
He regretted that this had begun at all, that he had gotten carried away by his foolish Gryffindor idealism and faith that he could win in this fight.
He had been defeated. Defeated and broken. He no longer had the strength to continue fighting. He knew that if he tried again, he would just end up in another painful defeat. He didn’t want to experienced that again. At the mere thought of yesterday’s sense of defeat and betrayal he felt chills shaking his body, and his stomach clenched painfully. He had given everything and in return received nothing but pain and humiliation.
He knew he shouldn’t that. He had gotten in the way of what he wanted. He knew Snape. He shouldn’t, therefore, blame anyone. But the sense of injustice and occupation was stronger. The memory of how he had felt yesterday wiped out all other feelings and memories, replacing them only with disappointment and bitterness.
In his head, a painful echo still sounded:
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
These words crushed everything in him. They struck in the one place that should have remained hidden and inaccessible, causing a pain so severe that it was tough to withstand.
He was always nothing. He had been told that throughout his childhood. That he was no good for anything; that he meant nothing to no one; that no one cared about him. And that was true. The Dursley’s either mistreated him or pretended he didn’t exist. He was like a ghost; useless, invisible, worthless. He was nothing to everyone.
Hogwarts had changed that a little. But he was still afraid that one day someone would decide that he was useless and that the beautiful dream ended. Everyone saw him as a hero, the Boy Who Lived. But if someone had discovered that he really was an ordinary teenager who doesn't really know that much… he would be nothing again. Maybe that’s why he was always the first to begin a fight, he always tried to help everyone, doing everything, even if it exceeded what was beyond his capabilities. Others said that he was brave… but he knew that wasn't true. What had driven him to these acts was… fear. Fear of rejection. Of returning to the cupboard under the stairs, to be meaningless and sobbing in the dark.
That's why he couldn’t bear it when Snape treated him in such a disrespectful manner after the incident in the cupboard. He had acted as if Harry didn’t exist, as if Snape didn't care about him… and it hurt him much more than Snape’s full of contempt eyes and the mocking smile. Much more than the humiliation and shame. Nothing hurt like knowing that for him he was… nothing.
No! He wouldn’t think about it anymore! He had to close it off deep inside him. In a place that, this time, no one could reach, that nobody could brake.
He passed a corner and stopped suddenly. At the end of the corridor he saw a familiar, a fair-haired figure. Luna was apparently waiting for someone who had to go down the hallway, near the class to which Harry headed.
The boy moved towards her trying to approach her so that he didn’t scare her and didn’t cause too much noise.
“You could walk a little quieter, Harry,” he suddenly heard when he was just a few steps away from her.
Damn! How did she know it was me?
“What are you doing here?” he asked in a whisper, standing behind her.
“I cannot tell you,” she said, also in a whisper, turning her head in his direction. Then she looked down the corridor, looking closely at the walls and the ceiling. “Pointies Longeared are spying us”
“What?” Harry blinked, following Luna’s gaze, but the corridor was empty. “But there’s nobody there.”
“They want you to think so. Therefore, they can easily eavesdrop. Because no one can see them,” explained Luna.
Harry thought for a moment over this twisted logic. Luna gestured him to get closer. She leaned into his ear and whispered:
“Can you maybe carry some oranges?”
“What?” This time, Harry felt completely baffled. “What oranges? For what?”
“It scares them,” the Ravenclaw explained in a conspiratorial whisper. “The color and the smell of oranges. Although there can be mandarins too.”
Harry gave up trying to understand that girl. It was beyond his strength. Even the mysterious envelope, which she was squeezed in her hand, was not worth the mental effort.
He had left Luna in the hallway and moved on. He was first in front the classroom, nothing surprising, since he left mid-breakfast. More surprising was Luna’s behavior. Just last night she was released from the hospital. Because of this all, he had forgotten to ask her how she felt.
He turned back to talk to her for a while, since he had nothing to do now. But before he reached the end of the corridor, he froze, seeing three familiar figures emerging from around the corner. He immediately recognized Crabbe and Goyle. But with them, instead of Malfoy, Zabini followed.
Harry bristled in spite of himself, bracing himself for the mockery and decided to pass by them as soon as possible.
Maybe they won't attack him --
“Pottter, what are you doing here?” Zabini laughed, blocking his way. “Waiting for that pinkhaired witch? Do you have a crush on her too?”
Harry inhaled sharply, stopping, and pinned Zabini with a warring look.
What the hell was he talking about?
“Oh, I see that you don’t understand.” Zabini seemed to read his thoughts. “Will your great love be jealous, Potter?”
Whom is he talking about? Luna?
“Get out of my way,” snapped Harry, trying to get past him, but Crabbe and Goyle seemed to block the entire corridor with their great size.
“And what will you do? Will you go complain to Snape? You were giving him quite the eye yesterday. Surely that should lead him to satisfy every whim of his little bitch, wouldn’t it, Potter?”
Harry felt the stiff and icy surge of dread flooding his shattered mind.
He noticed it! And if he saw it, the entire Slytherin house probably knew too… And Malfoy…
“What is it, Potter? Has speech left you, or maybe you just relived memories of the hot moments you two had? Given how you looked at him yesterday, he had to properly fu -- ”
“What’s going on here?” A high, cold voice break off the stream of cutting words coming from the Slytherin’s mouth. Malfoy emerged from behind Zabini. His eyes narrowed when he saw Harry. Hatred flared in them. Venomous and unbridled.
Harry winced slightly, but he had decided not to get provoked at any cost. Whatever Malfoy would say --
“I was telling Potter how wonderful it was to admire his performance yesterday in Potions Class. Those dreamy eyes, these seductive gestures…” continued Zabini and Crabbe and Goyle chortled, holding their bellies. “You know what I think, Potter? That you and Snape really--”
“Shut up!” snapped Malfoy suddenly, which made Crabbe and Goyle fall silent almost immediately. Zabini stopped and looked suspiciously at Malfoy, who was pinning them with a look as hard as steel. “You didn’t seen anything. Do you understand?” he drawled, not taking his eyes from the Slytherin’s face, contorted by a grimace of discontent. Zabini opened his mouth to say something, but Malfoy raised his slightly trembling, rage tined voice. “You didn’t notice anything. If you try to mention it to anyone, they will be the last words you utter.”
Silence fell in the hallway. Zabini gritted his teeth and slowly, with effort, nodded.
“Come on,” spat Malfoy and walked to the classroom, knocking Harry’s arm as he passed by him, but not once looking at him. Crabbe and Goyle followed their leader. Zabini gave Harry one more look, with eyes full of rage, and then joined the others.
Harry stood in the middle of the hallway, completely speechless. Thoughts raced madly in his mind as he tried to comprehend what had just happened.
What was that all supposed to mean? Why did Malfoy defend him? He should have joined Zabini and his gorillas after all. He always had in the past. Why, instead of sneering at Harry, did he get furious at Zabini and tell him to forget about everything? What had changed? Did he have something planned with Snape? But if they were in cahoots, Snape wouldn’t have punished him when they had attacked Harry. Or maybe it was supposed to be only a smokescreen to Harry so that he thought that they were on opposite sides? But how would they be on opposite sides, since both served Voldemort? It is true that Snape is a spy, but Malfoy didn’t know that.
What the hell is going on here?
The worst thing was that Zabini noticed Harry's behavior. He had known the risks, but then he hadn’t absolutely thought about the consequences. He had been totally blind. But since Zabini had noticed, how many more people could have seen it? And what about the Gryffindors? Had they noticed, too?
Harry was seized by panic.
Maybe nobody else had seen it? No one had caught him yesterday. Nor today at breakfast. But maybe they had noticed, but didn't tell him? They were probably still afraid of Snape, who would surely take revenge on them if they still made any insinuations about him and Harry.
Then it dawned on him.
Exactly! That’s probably why Malfoy was so reserved. He was afraid that Snape would find out. Such behavior was unreasonable for any Slytherin, but who knew what Snape had done to him then, or said… But was Malfoy really so afraid of him? That would explain why he had attacked Luna and not Harry.
“Harry, you look as if you saw You-Know-Who. Are you ok?” Tonks’ worried voice pierced through his soaring thoughts and brought him back to the ground. The teacher was standing beside him, holding a briefcase in her hands and eyeing him carefully.
“Oh no, nothing. Everything is fine, really” he smiled faintly.
Over the next few days, Harry behaved as if he were completely absent in spirit. He wandering in the hallways, deep in thought, without speaking to anyone. In the afternoons he sat in the library or read a book in the dormitory. Hermione and Ron were a bit confused about the changes that edged him. They had tried to talk to him, but their friend had been extremely reserved and quiet. He rarely smiled, rarely talked. He skipped Quidditch practice, with the excuse of a headache. Instead of training, he began to visit Hagrid in the afternoons and helped him with Venomous Crackwats.
From Ron’s and Hermione’s perspective, he had become an introverted, perpetually busy loner. Both were very worried about him, but couldn’t do anything to lessen the depression that was felt around him.
None of them knew that Harry’s fettle arose from the decision to not deal with anything relating to thinking about Snape and what had happened between them. This required great strength of will and, even so, the memories came back like a boomerang, hitting him at the least appropriate moments. He wanted to forget, and what better way than to keep his head busy with other things?
Harry had not planned what would happen. Everything came by itself. He just threw himself in his studies, which allowed him not to think about how he had been treated. Especially since feeding Crackwats and watching out for their venomous spines was a very harsh occupation.
He had to give up Quidditch, because sitting on the broom was too painful … But learning was also a great way to divert his thoughts from dangerous areas.
All these activities perfectly filled the emptiness that the Potions Master’s words had left in him.
He realized that he had surrendered completely.
He avoided Snape as efficiently as he could. He had ceased to flee during meals when Snape appeared, but the whole time he never once looked at the black silhouette. He felt Snape was watching him the whole time. But he would sooner eat a vomit-flavored bean than give away to that man that he hadn’t forgotten.
Another Potions class was fast approaching and with every passing moment Harry panicked. Throughout the weekend he had tried to prepare for it mentally, but at the very thought that he would meet with Snape, especially in this class, he felt an invisible force clenching his stomach and lungs.
Snape, much to Harry’s relief, hadn’t appeared at Friday’s breakfast, but had come to lunch, which had effectively deprived him of any appetite. Immediately after dinner the Potions class was to be held, which he was so very afraid of. All this meant that he hadn’t swallowed even a bite, which didn’t escape Hermione’s eye.
“Harry, you have to eat something! Recently you eat less than an elf. You won’t have the strength to study,” she went on pestering him when he and the other students left the Great Hall and headed toward the dungeons.
“What’s that smell?” Ron interrupted her, sniffing and looking around in all directions.
“What smell?” Neville stopped behind the three friends. Hermione also stopped and sniffed. “It smells like… a very large amount of orange juice...”
“Oh, Merlin!” grunted Ron, staring with wide eyes at something hurrying down the corridor. The others turned and stood speechless.
Luna was headed in their direction. On her head was a huge hat, on which lay a pile of half-crushed, cut in half, or squeezed oranges. At the very top there was a bowl full of orange juice, which at her every step it was poured out the sides and splashed on the stone floor. The students passed her in a wide berth, pointing at her with their fingers and chuckling under their breaths. Hermione looked as if lightning had struck her, and Ron alternatively opened and closed his mouth. When the girl passed by them, a few oranges fell out of the hat and landed with slurping at their feet. Their mouths were filled with saliva by the sour smell. Luna was also wearing a necklace of mandarins and oranges were stuffed in the pockets of her robes. She gave them an unconscious smile and walked away, humming something under her breath. She was squeezing an envelope in her hand.
Hermione shook her head.
“Can someone explain to me why she had THAT on her head?”
“It’s to protect against Pointies Longeared," replied Harry smoothly, wandering in his thoughts.
“Against WHAT?” Hermione looked completely baffled.
“So they don’t eavesdrop,” Harry explained with an absent voice, still traversing something. He didn't see the way in which they stared at him.
“Harry,” began Hermione, striving for peace. “Can you explain to me -- ”
“I’m not going to Potions,” said Harry suddenly. It was so unexpected that he even surprised himself.
“What?” Ron broke the silence, which had reigned after these words. He looked at Harry as if he had suddenly grown a second head.
“You can’t, Harry!” Neville said. His voice trembled, eyes wide. “He’ll kill you! It's Snape after all!”
“I have a headache and I feel ill. I can’t go to Potions,” retorted Harry with a strong voice.
“Well, go to Madam Pomfrey and have her give you something. You have to go to Potions!” Ron tried to convince him. “You know what Snape can do. He'll get mad at you and he can do to you what he did to Malfoy.”
“No,” said Harry, feeling a surge of anger in him.
They didn’t understand anything!
“But Harry -- ” Ron didn’t want to give up, when suddenly Hermione interrupted with a sharp voice.
“Stop it! Harry’s head hurts, didn’t you hear?” Ron and Neville closed their mouths, looking at the girl in amazement. “Go back to the dormitory, Harry. I’ll tell Snape that you felt ill and could not come.”
“Are you mental?” hissed Ron. “He’ll never -- ” But he stopped short, seeing the look Hermione was shooting him.
“Come on now, otherwise we’ll be late,” she spat in the direction of Ron and Neville.
Harry looked at his friend gratefully, then turned and walked toward the common room. He wanted to find himself, as soon as possible, in the secluded heaven of the dormitory
It was not a wise move, but what else could he do? How would he sit quietly in the classroom and look at the desk, where he and Snape --
No! He mustn’t think about that!
During those two hours he would read a book. He’d keep himself occupied and not think about it.
He didn't give a damn about the consequences. The most important thing was that he would avoid confrontations with Snape. If Snape even noticed his absence, since he was nothing to him --
‘No. Stop it!’ he rebuked in his thoughts, when he walked in the deserted common room and up the stairs to the dormitory. He threw himself onto the bed and looked at the ceiling. After some time, the silence began to overwhelm him, push against him, ringing in his ears. It seemed like his every move echoed throughout the castle. Then he heard a sound coming from the portrait sliding open.
Someone had entered the common room! But who? Everyone had classes!
And what if… what if Snape had come after him?!
He jumped off the bed, pulled the invisibility cloak from his bag and covered himself at the moment when the sound of footsteps came from the stairs leading to the boys’ dormitories. He squeezed into the corner of the room and held his breath. He heard the beating of his heart. The sound seemed extremely loud to him in the prevailing silence around him. He would give anything to be able to silence it.
The steps stopped at the door. He stared at it so hard that he almost felt tears in his eyes. The door opened, creaking softly into the room and --
-- Hermione entered. Harry felt such an overwhelming sense of relief he nearly melted and flowed onto the floor. Hermione looked around the room and asked:
“Harry, are you here?”
Harry took off his cloak.
“What happened?” he asked, feeling relief turning to anxiety. Hermione had a very severe expression on her face,
“Snape sent me here. He said he didn’t care about your feeling unwell and that you have to came to his lesson immediately. And if you didn’t show up, then he would come after you.” She made a pause, giving Harry a depressed look. “He is really mad, Harry. It would be better if you simply went to Potions.”
Harry felt overcome with panic. He couldn’t go! Especially now! Snape would destroy him, crush him! But he couldn’t stay here. Snape had threatened to come after him. What a mess he made… But how could he have known that Snape would be so mad? Harry didn’t count for him. He had said so. So why now did he intend to pursue him? Just to humiliate him even more? Oh no, none of that!
“Come with me,” he dashed for Hermione and pulled her by the arm. He threw the invisibility cloak over them and brought her down the stairs to the common room and into the hallway.
“Where are we going, Harry?” she asked, when he went down the stairs and quickly between classes. “The dungeons are the other way.”
“We don’t go to the dungeons,” he replied quietly. “I’m not going to become a trophy on the wall of Snape’s quarters, when he is finished with me. You know he would never condone me.”
Hermione pursed her lips.
“It's your fault that you got yourself in it. You could simply go to classes, instead of hiding in the dormitory.”
“If you wanted to preach to me, you should have done it earlier, instead of siding with me to leave. I think it’s a little late, now.”
“I wanted to help you!” she hissed softly when he came down the stairs.
“You can still help me,” said Harry, stopping before the door leading to the hospital wing. He looked straight into her brown eyes and asked: “Will you help me?”
Hermione looked as if she was having an internal fight. She looked at Harry intently, as if considering the pros and cons.
“Please,” he said quietly, looking at her imploringly. That probably broke her because she nodded slightly and said:
“What should I do?”
“We will go there together,” Harry nodded at the door. “I’ll pretend I have a headache. You tell Pomfrey that I got the headache during Potions and that's why you had to bring me here. I will take care of the rest.”
Hermione looked at him uncertainly.
“You want me to lie?”
Harry barely refrained from rolling his eyes.
“Yes, Hermione. Do it for me. Unless you want to see how Snape will skin me?”
Hermione bit her lip.
“But only this once. Because you’re my friend, Harry. The next time you want to get away from the lesson, think that you have a debt of gratitude to me and cancel it. Okay?”
Harry returned to the dormitory and, with a sigh, fell onto the bed. Everything went according to the plan. Pomfrey had asked no questions, and she had written him an exemption, which Hermione had brought to Snape. She had also said to tell the teacher that Harry would spend the afternoon in the hospital, on the off chance that Snape decided to find Harry and “drag him back with the force”. Pomfrey, of course, had immediately wanted to pour a whole set of potions into him and keep him in the hospital until the next day, but Harry, after drinking the first dose, had said that he felt much better and that he would just go to the dormitory, lie down and sleep. He had also promised that he wouldn’t get out of the bed. He had received another potion from the nurse, had thanked her very much for the help and had returned to the common room. He had little remorse that he had lied to her, but he really had no other choice. It was the only way to escape alive.
Snape could now get mad at him with all his strength. He had received an exemption, so there was nothing he could do. And for the next lesson… Harry would think of something.
He pulled out of his trunk a book he had read many times, “In the air with the Cannons”, and immersed himself in reading, swearing to himself that he would no longer think of Snape, neither of Potions.
But with every passing moment more and more doubts swept over his heart, and his stomach shook with nervousness and fear.
He convinced himself that there was nothing to fear. Nothing would happen to him. Snape would not come after him. He would not pursue him. He would not lurk at him in the corridor and not…
Enough of this! He had to stop!
He couldn’t read anymore. He put down the book and started organizing the contents of his trunk. He threw everything on the floor and began to put them in again, putting the books on one side and the clothes on the other. After some time, however, he caught himself putting things in at random and he had created a bigger mess than before.
He sighed and sat on his heels, leaning his forehead against the cool lid of the trunk. He was breathing fast and hard, trying to calm his beating heart.
Everything would be fine, nothing would happen. This was just one lesson --
Suddenly he heard footsteps on the stairs. Fear froze his heart. Not thinking about what he was doing, he jumped up from the floor and pulled out his wand aiming at the door --
-- where Ron and Neville appeared.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief, but the feeling of tension didn’t lessen even a little bit. Both looked as if they had run at least ten miles. They had dark circles under their eyes and facial expressions suggesting severe torment.
“What happened?” Harry asked worried. Ron gave him a long, reproachful look.
“Snape,” he spoke with envenomed hatred in his voice. Harry felt like he’d been pierced by a painful, icy current which froze every part of his body.
“What did he do?” he asked, trying to make his voice not tremble so much. Neville walked over to the bed and threw himself at it with evident relief
“What did he do?” hissed Ron. “What did he do?! If I knew how it would end, I would have dragged you to the lesson even by force! We've lost almost a hundred points because of you!” he shouted, piercing Harry with a look of bitterness and anger. Harry tried to swallow, but the lump in his throat wouldn't allow it. “Never, throughout five years, have I seen Snape in such a state!”
“In a state such as… mad?” asked Harry quietly, with the sincere hope that his friend would disagree, but at the same time realizing that they were futile dreams.
“Mad?! That’s an understatement. He went berserk! He was foaming at the mouth so much that I thought that none of us would come out of this class in the same condition as when we got in.”
“I don’t understand. After all, Hermione brought him my excuse,” said Harry, trying to sort out all the news in his head.
“And you think he cares about your excuse? He tore it up and threw it into the trash bin!”
Harry widened his eyes.
“He told us all to drink various potions,” said Neville with his head pressed into the pillow. “The worst was the last…”
“Everybody started jumping like crazy and we could not stop,” explained Ron shakily. “And it's all because of you! Because you didn't come! And we were still loosing points. Neville lost fifteen points for just having looked at him.”
“What?” Harry couldn’t believe his ears. “But… but how could I have known? It’s not my fault -- ”
“Not yours?!” Ron began to scream. “Not yours?! Of course it’s yours, damn it! He kept reminding us of this throughout the lesson, when we were forced to drink all those ruddy concoctions! He said that it was because you didn’t come! That if he couldn’t take revenge on you, it would backfire on us because we are your friends!” Ron was almost spitting with rage. To illustrate what had happened in the classroom, he began to imitate Snape’s voice: “‘Your dear friend did not show up, Weasley, so he cannot save you,’ ‘Mr. Longbottom, please do not look at Mr. Potter’s empty seat, because he is not there,’ ‘Miss Granger, since Mr. Potter didn’t come, then you will receive the mark for his potion. Troll.”
Harry was standing speechless, listening to all this open-mouthed and couldn’t believe it.
But this was impossible that his absence from the lesson would anger Snape so much. He didn't understand it at all. After all, he was supposed to be nothing to him…
Ron sat down heavily on the bed and buried his face in his hands. The guilt fell on Harry like the stroke of the Whomping Willow. It was because of him that they all suffered. He was so afraid of the confrontation with Snape that he exposed others to danger. But how could he have known that it would lead to this?
Well, yes, it was Snape, after all… He should have been able to predict his behavior.
“Sorry,” he muttered quietly, feeling like a pig. “I’m sorry that you went through all this. I didn't want it ends like this. I didn’t think -- ”
“Then you should finally start thinking,” spat Ron, not looking up. “You know all too well how Snape is. Maybe others would have accepted it, but not him. You know him. You know what he is capable of.”
Oh yes, Harry knew too well…
“And where’s Hermione?” He asked, as he realized suddenly that she hadn’t returned with them. Ron shrugged.
“He told her to stay after class. I don’t know why.”
Harry was flooded by the next surge of overwhelming fear and guilt.
And what if Snape had decided to take revenge on Harry and he would fail Hermione?
No, he would have done no such thing. But while listening to Ron’s story he had the impression that Snape would be capable of anything.
“You dropped us in it, Harry.” Hermione’s voice, coming from the door made him nearly jump. The girl entered the room. Her face was tense.
“Hermione…” he sighed in relief. “It’s good that you’re okay.”
She gave him a surprised look.
“And why did you think that something had happened to me?”
“Ron said that Snape held you back,” explained Harry, staring at her intently. “What did he say?”
“Unfortunately, nothing nice. He told me to tell you that everyone has to come to his lessons. He also said that if you don’t show up at the next class, he will search for you, wherever you hide and drag you there. And that time, no exemption will help you. And if you refuse, you will regret that you didn’t run away from Hogwarts once and for all.”
Harry looked at her shocked. He didn’t know what to think about this. It sounded really… scary.
He gulped and said:
“Did he say anything else?”
“Yes, that you have to prepare for the next lesson, because you will sit for a test on what was said today.”
And what did he have to do now? Snape was clearly blackmailing him. It wasn’t right! Especially after what he had said. How could he expect that Harry would forget about everything and just go back to his everyday life? That he would forget how he felt? Snape had no right to blackmail him and bully his friends!
“Harry?” Hermione’s quiet voice barely broke through the storm raging in Harry’s mind. She looked at him attentively and her face was very serious. “I think that I know what you’re thinking, but you can’t do this again. You have to go to the next lesson.” She lowered her voice to a whisper so that Ron and Neville didn’t hear anything. “Whatever he did to you, please, go to Potions on Monday. If you don’t go, this can finish really badly for you. And for us too.”
Harry bit his lip.
“Snape didn’t do anything to me,” he growled softly, trying to make his voice sound indifferent and not tremble so much, betraying the emotion typhoon which caused her words to him.
“If you say so…” She lowered her gaze to the floor, then looked at him sadly, turned and left.
Harry didn’t go to breakfast on Saturday. He stated that it would be more plausible if he would have a headache a bit longer. But he was so hungry that when dinnertime came around, even the threat of meeting with Snape could not stop him. Especially since Hermione had forbidden Ron and Neville to bring him any food. She had said that Harry should finally pay the consequences of yesterday’s behavior and face this what he ran away from.
Harry cursed her perceptiveness and intentionally hitting his soft spots. Sometimes he dreamed that Hermione were a little less intelligent.
During dinner it felt like everyone was staring at him. In the not so very encouraging and friendly manner. Especially the sixth year Gryffindors and Slytherins. Snape hadn’t spared anyone at yesterday’s class, although, as usual, the Slytherins were treated a bit better. The Slytherins were giving him angry looks, but couldn’t do anything else, as their Head of House was also present at the meal.
Harry clearly felt the gaze of the black eyes which were digging into his back like daggers, but he decided that he wouldn’t look at Snape, no matter what. Even if the professor began to dance the cancan on the table…
However, the Potions Master’s presence, as usual, led him off balance and effectively deprived him of any appetite. He barely managed to finish his meal and, together with the rest of the students, left the Great Hall. He was still nervous, but at least now he had a full stomach.
“Potter!” A sharp voice pierced the air when Harry and his friends were walking to the common room. On the first impulse he stiffened all over, paralyzed by fear, and only after a while he had realized that this was not Snape’s voice. He turned and saw a group of Slytherins heading towards him, Zabini as the leader. However, their faces didn’t express the desire to invite Harry to afternoon tea.
He bristled, ready to repel any attack and verbal provocation. Remembering how they were looking at him during dinner, he expected that they wouldn't let him free, especially after what they had to go through at yesterday’s Potions class. He was pretty sure the whole school was blaming him.
He was surprised that the leader at the harassment was Zabini, not Malfoy.
However, before any of the Slytherins had even opened their mouths, a tall, slim silhouette appeared before them.
“Go back to the dungeons,” snarled Malfoy, giving them an imperious gaze. “I will deal with Potter.”
For a moment they looked at him, considering the possibilities, then nodded and, like a pack of obedient snakes, turned back, leaving the matter to their leader. Several had turned to look at Malfoy trashing Potter, but the blond waited for all to disappear to the stairs leading to the dungeons. Then, he turned toward Harry and gave him a hateful, rage-filled look.
However, there was something else in those gray eyes. Resistance.
It looked as if Malfoy was fighting with himself. But what he fought against, Harry couldn’tt guess.
“Potter,” hissed the Slytherin, narrowing his eyes. “We need to talk.”
“What do you want from him?” interjected Ron, whose voice was trembling from the repressed hatred.
“It’s a matter between the two of us,” hissed Malfoy.
Harry was… intrigued. Malfoy wanted to talk with him about something? In private? He would do nothing to him here. Too many people were around. But ... Maybe it was worth to risk?
“Okay,” he turned to Ron and Hermione. “Go ahead. I’ll catch up with you.”
Seeing that Ron was opening his mouth to protest, he beat him to it. “I’ll be fine, Ron. I have to talk to him.”
When his friends had disappeared around a corner, Malfoy looked around the hallway and walked one step closer to the Gryffindor, piercing him with his cold gaze
“What is it?” asked Harry, trying to keep a peaceful tone, belying his curiosity.
“About your moronic behavior, Potter!” Malfoy’s face turned into an icy mask. Only his eyes betrayed his raging fury. “You are so stupid that sometimes I want to take pity on you. If you already have such a crush on Snape, then at least try to do it in a less spectacular way.”
Harry was speechless. He had expected everything, but certainly not Malfoy giving him good advics about his interest in the teacher.
“Why do you care?” he growled when he finally managed to regain his ability to speak. Malfoy narrowed his eyes and continued:
“You're pissing everyone off. First, you’re making goo-goo eyes at him at the lesson, then you don’t come to Potions, and everybody suffers because of you. I have some advice for you: you should slow down and rethink your actons because, soon, everyone will know that the Golden Boy has a crush on the Potions Master. You might as well go to the center of the Great Hall and announce it to all and sundry. If you don’t start thinking a little and acting more normal, it'll end really bad for you.”
Harry stood for a moment, completely speechless and confused. He felt as if the Slytherin had poured a huge bucket of icy water on his head.
No, he didn’t tell him that! He had to be dreaming!
“You ate your tongue, Potter? What happened? Snape didn’t satisfy you properly?”
Even if Malfoy had fought earlier with something, it seemed that in the end he had managed to overcome this and his mischievous Slytherin nature had finally begun to take up.
“You are insane,” Harry finally managed to squeeze out when he overcome the huge shock he had suffered from hearing all these words from his greatest enemy’s mouth.
How could Malfoy know? How did he intend to use it? Did Malfoy want to blackmail him?
He’d have to turn it against him! Best to behave as if he had no idea about anything.
“Funny,” retorted the Slytherin. “I thought the same about you.”
He smiled, seeing the fury which had now probably appeared on Harry’s face.
“You know…” continued Malfoy cruelly, as if in the end he could give vent to his hatred and frustration and nothing could stop him. “Sometimes, I pity you. Nice choice you made. Does Snape punish you for insubordination, Potter? Because he loves to inflict pain. He tortures his victims and watch them writhe at his feet, begging for mercy. Does he also do this to you? And does he fuck you into unconsciousness? How is it for you, Potter? Do you like it when he does that?”
Harry could feel Malfoy’s words oozing like poison in his heart, twitching him and brutally reopening that which he was trying to forget. When he spoke, his voice was trembling so much that he barely spoke the words: “Shut up. You know nothing about him! You have no idea!”
Malfoy seemed to be having a great time, for in the end he had managed to hit a sensitive spot. His eyes narrowed even more and on his lips appeared a triumphant smile.
“I know that you will always be nothing to him.”
Harry felt a familiar feeling, as if something in him snapped. The wound, which he so desperately tried to heal throughout the week, opened. And with it came a surge of unbridled rage that flooded his mind. A surge so big and powerful that its force set off the turbines of revenge.
Harry stopped thinking. He wanted to hurt Malfoy as much as he hurt him. After seeing the Slytherin’s eyes opening wide he realized that his face had to look terrifying.
“You must know about it very well, eh, Malfoy?” His voice made him sound so unnaturally cold, as if it didn’t belong to him. “Does your dad still whisper it to you when he fucks you?”
Malfoy’s face froze.
Harry smiled vindictively. He hit.
“Does he whisper in your ear that you’re a worthless loser, which is suitable only for fucking and doing a blow jobs? And when you protest, does he clog your mouth, stuffing into it his -- ” Harry stopped, seeing on Malfoy’s face something that frightened him. He understood that he had gone too far, but he knew that he could not undo this.
In the darkened eyes of the Slytherin he saw obscurity so deep it could only be that of a madman
Before he could even take a step back, Malfoy caught up to him and grabbed his robe, pulling him closer with a jerk. His face was twisted with unspeakable cruelty.
Harry held his breath.
Suddenly, Malfoy’s eyes wandered over the Gryffindor’s arm, as if he had seen something in the distance. His grip on Harry’s robe weakened and after a while he let go of it completely. But the cruelty had not disappeared from his pale face. He pierced Harry’s eyes with his darkened ones and whispered icily:
“You will pay for this, Potter.” Then he turned and walked away briskly.
Harry stood for a moment, trying to understand what had actually happened. He turned to see what had deterred Malfoy. He saw a tall, dressed in black silhouette standing at the end of the corridor, clearly watching him.
He immediately turned around and moving as fast as he could. When he passed a corner, he began to run.
The dimness reigned in the room. The fire burning in the fireplace lit by the house elves had almost gone out. The remaining flames licked the wood and created trembling shadows on the walls and the bookshelves. The all-encompassing silence was interrupted by the quiet creaking of the door opening. A tall, dressed in black figure entered the room. When he went to the fireplace, the light of the last flames brought out from the darkness the claret smudges that were covering the black robe. From under the cloak emerged a bloodied hand, holding a white skull-shaped mask, now covered with red drops.
The mask landed with a clatter on top of the table and Snape fell on a green silk-covered armchair and stared at the flames. He sat there for some time without taking his eyes off the burning wood. His face, covered with red bloody spots, expressed nothing, as if it was just a mask the whole time. Only in his black eyes, reflecting the light from the fireplace, was burning some inner fire consuming everything.
After a while, the man rose from his armchair, walked over to the bookcase and pulled out one of the books standing on a shelf. In the wall something clanged and the bookcase came out and moved aside, revealing a small, darkened room. The Potions Master’s eyes narrowed slightly when he walked inside. The bookcase wall moved back to its place and the room was plunged in eerie silence and darkness
The remains of the light danced on the abandoned mask, reflecting in a blood-red drops.
* "Missing" by Evanescence
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