Chapter 3: Sometimes I feel I’ve got to run away
The next thing Harry knew was that he woke up in the infirmary. Oh great and here he thought the day could not get better but he had a massive headache. What in the name of sanity, did Snape use for a spell to knock him out? He would give the man his opinion on that later. At least it helped him should Dumbledore decide to visit him so that he would not have to fake how much of a toll his “fight” with Voldemort took. Talking of the devil…just at that moment the infirmary door opened and Albus-to-many-names Dumbledore strode in with long determined steps.
He picked up his glasses from the nightstand and placed his wand under his blanket just in case before looking at the headmaster. Gosh! His headache instantly became infinitely worse when he saw the man. Did he really have to wear those horrendous robes? Harry was tempted to set them aflame but doubted that this was a good idea.
“Ah Harry, my boy, I see you’re awake. How do you feel?” Dumbledore asked with a grandfatherly smile and a twinkle in his eyes.
`Like shit you pathetic excuse of a wizard´ Harry just wanted to snap but could refrain himself from doing so, that mad twinkling gave him the rest. Instead, he answered truthfully. “As if a Bludger hit my head, Sir,” he said with a small voice looking at the sheet he was covered in. There was nothing-good coming out of laying his cards open before this man so better laying a low profile. Despite that, he had the uncertain feeling that the old coot was able to read his mind hence why he never looked him in the face. Snape told him about Legilimency and that he was able to use it but Harry did not put it beneath Dumbledore to use it too especially on him.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Perhaps Madame Pomfrey can give you something against the pain, I’ll go fetch her” Dumbledore turned and walked in the direction of Pomfrey’s office humming under his breath.
Harry slumped back into the pillow. The man was one big walking headache and far too joyful for his liking. Always this humming and twinkling…it did not take long before the man was back with a concerned Pomfrey behind him.
“Mr. Potter, how do you feel?” she asked.
“Getting asked the same question over and over again doesn’t improve my headache in the slightest,” he growled.
“My, my, no need to be so rude,” she cast a diagnostic charm over him. “You’re suffering from the aftereffects of a dark curse though I cannot tell which one.”
“Perhaps the killing curse that idiot threw at me?” have they always been that stupid or was it a slow progress that grew worse over time? If the latter was correct…Merlin have mercy with him.
“How did you learn about that special curse?” Dumbledore asked with a slight concern in his voice.
“Through a close inspection of flat pieces in the form of a square with two oppositely longer sides and orthogonal edges made out of the stem of former vertical growing, lignified, huge and of photosynthesis through leafs capable plants, confined between two larger and harder pieces of the same plant material and filled with various first liquefied and then dried colour pigments formed into lines and shapes,” Harry simply answered looking at his fingers as if they were the most interesting thing in existence.
“I beg your pardon?” Dumbledore was confused.
“Reading books, Professor, reading books” he had to bring up all his willpower not to start laughing madly upon the face the old coot just made.
“Ah,” was all Dumbledore could say to that. Pomfrey in the meantime gave Harry a headache potion before leaving. “Is it possible that you tell me exactly what happened in your encounter with Voldemort?”
“Who said something about Voldemort?” now that his headache was cured he had to grin. Was it wrong that he had so much fun in driving the old goat up the wall? Definitely not. He had to find a way to share the memory of this with Snape and Voldie.
Dumbledore looked at him as if he just swallowed one of his infamous lemon drops only to find out that it was caramel instead. Harry sighed. “If you perhaps could describe me how said man looks like I could answer you whether it was him or not.”
“Black hair, ice blue eyes and a regal looking face.”
“Nope, no it wasn’t Voldemort then,” he answered with a thoughtful face. The man he met clearly had red eyes not blue. “But I saw Quirrell. Had a second face on the back of his head. Looked funny.”
“But then you have encountered Voldemort,” Dumbledore pinched the bridge of his nose. Something was not right but he could not tell what it was. Sure, the boy always was a bit…strange and impolite; somewhat he thought came from the boy’s upbringing. Quite a few people even went so far to compare him to Severus but today…it seemed to be worse.
“He never introduced himself to me so no idea,” too true since he regarded him as Voldemort right from the beginning on.
“My boy, could you please just tell me what happened?” Dumbledore didn’t want to waste any more time with the boy’s antics.
“Well after I walked through the flames which was funny by the way, never thought that flames could tickle you, I found Professor Quirrell in front of the big mirror, you know that stupid thing that doesn’t even show yourself properly…always has to show you some crazy crap. Well, Quirrell and I we talked a bit while I took a look in the mirror myself, that stupid thing is so slow…took me eons to tell it what I want. In the meantime, Quirrell put down his turban and I could see a face on the back of his head. That looked so strange and funny I had a really hard time not to laugh,” here Dumbledore interrupted him.
“Could you please simply tell what happened without any annotations?” why had this boy to be so nerve whacking?
“Okay, okay. Suddenly I found a red stone in my pocket. When I took it out, Quirrell became different and demanded the stone from me. I did not give it to him instantly, which resulted in him throwing the killing curse at me. The only thing I know is that it did not touch me but went back at him and killed him instead. A short time after that I fell unconscious because of the pain it induced. Professor, why did the spell not hit me but him? I thought it always killed its target no matter what and can’t be blocked by a shield,” the only lie in this story was the killing curse part and better check what theory the man had regarding Voldemort’s inability to kill him.
“Ah Harry, my boy, I think that this has to do with the sacrifice your mother gave. She died to save you leaving a protection behind stronger than anything else known to wizarding kind,” Dumbledore explained.
“What kind of protection?” Harry was just curious.
“Love, Harry, love. A magic beyond comprehension and something Voldemort probably will never understand,” a dreamy state entered his face.
Love? Harry wanted to start laughing and never stop again. Did that barmy old fool really think that he bought that crap? Why came suddenly the song “Tainted Love” to his mind? Never mind…he would not tell that idiot how farfetched his theory was. Better keeping him in the dark and therefore out of his hair.
“So Voldemort on a Woodstock festival would have a problem,” he snorted starting to hum the song that came to his mind earlier. “Though you would fit in like a tree in a forest.”
Dumbledore rose an eyebrow looking over his half-moon spectacles not knowing whether this was an insult or not but before he could reply anything Harry continued.
“But he is dead, isn’t he?” he asked with a certain amount of fear in his voice. “I mean he got hit by the killing curse.”
“I fear, my boy, that he is still very well alive,” Dumbledore looked sad but Harry did not buy it, though what did he mean by `still alive´? Was Voldemort correct and Snape loyal to Dumbledore? He could not have been so wrong, could he? The man had sworn to protect him and he knew that he would never follow Dumbledore. Would he really betray Voldemort and therefore knowingly risk his own life? Only one way to find out. Driving him up the wall until he stumbles and loses the grip only to fall all the way back down. Yeah, the Slytherin way was the one with the most fun.
“That can’t be true. I saw how the curse hit him. He has to be dead there is no other way,” his fear was slowly but surely becoming a full-grown panic attack, or at least that was what he wanted Dumbledore to believe. He really should get an award for his acting skills.
“The unfortunate truth is that he took measures to ensure his immortality,” Dumbledore grew slightly irritated and angry. This entire conversation grated on his nerves. How had the boy the nerves to question him?
“But the books…they all say the same. Someone hit by the killing curse dies no matter what. There is no way that he is still alive.”
“My boy, he used some pretty dark magic to ensure his survival. There are many different paths in magic you would never understand.”
“But what magic could possibly outmatch the killing curse? The one considered the darkest of all magic and unstoppable. I mean you said love protected me and that he wouldn’t understand it but what protected him?” he now nearly whined.
The irritation and anger got the better of Dumbledore. He was at the end of his tether with this boy. “He created several Horcruxes to survive,” he growled.
Therefore, it was not Snape in the end. He did not know what exactly these Horcruxes were Dumbledore mentioned but he doubted that Snape knew about them. The only question left now is how he could be so sure that nothing destroyed or rendered them useless. “How can you be sure that those…Horcrux things weren’t destroyed beforehand or really worked?”
“Because you always have been and still are one,” Dumbledore snapped which effectively silenced Harry, finally. This boy…he just wanted to hex him into the next week. This constant whining…that was when he caught up with what he just said. Once it penetrated his mind, he visibly paled. He had been in such a rage over the boy’s behaviour that he had not paid attention to what he told him. What should he do? Oblivate him and act as if nothing was wrong? Yes, this would be the best thing to do. He could not allow the boy to keep the memories of this conversation.
Dumbledore just wanted to grab his wand in order to oblivate Harry when the doors to the infirmary opened and Severus Snape walked in his black robes billowing behind him. The man came straight to them. Harry silently thanked him for his timing. Sure, he had the hand on his wand and was ready to protect himself from Dumbledore since his outburst but he doubted that he would stand long against an opponent with so much more experience.
“Albus, Mr. Potter,” he spat the last name with venom while glaring at the boy with hatred. Harry on the other hand looked straight into his eyes with an intensity that surprised the potions master. He caught the intention behind it though and carefully slipped into the boys mind only to be confronted with the entirety of the conversation Harry just had with Dumbledore. Seeing the end his eyes widened slightly but he quickly regained his composure. Luckily, Dumbledore did not see any of it since the entire thing only took mere seconds.
“What can I do for you, my boy,” Dumbledore addressed Severus with a smile. Why did this man have to address everyone with `my boy´? It was annoying as hell.
“Headmaster, I only came to show you something,” with that, he rolled up his left sleeve and showed the forearm to Dumbledore. Harry knew exactly what he showed him but for the potions master’s sake, he feigned confusion. “I just saw it and came straight to you.”
Dumbledore looked shocked nothing of his grandfatherly façade left. This went contrary to everything he knew. Harry was yet a Horcrux of that he was sure since he cast a detection spell on him while he was still unconscious so how could the mark vanish if it was untouched? How could the boy still be alive? The Horcrux within him had to be destroyed before Voldemort could die. So how? Could Voldemort really have died without every of his Horcrux’ destroyed? He was confused beyond everything.
“When?” was the only question he could think of at the moment.
“Definitely in between yesterday evening and this morning. I went to get changed before going on my patrol yesterday and at that time it was still there but when I wanted to get changed into my nightgown a few minutes ago I saw that it vanished completely. You can think how shocked and surprised I was,” he lied smoothly.
“But that can’t be. I have to check a few things,” with that, Dumbledore nearly ran from the infirmary not even remembering that he wanted to oblivate Harry.
Harry took a deep breath once the man was out through the doors giving the man next to his bed a thankful look.
“Mr. Potter I advise you to recover fully before you go onto your next adventure. You might need the strength in your next encounter with a monster whatever it might be. Perhaps trying to behead a Hydra this time?” Snape sneered before vanishing through the infirmary doors too.
Harry sighed slumping back into his pillow. How he hated that old meddling fool, but regrettably he could not tell that idiot where to stuff those infernal robes of his and leave him alone. Though the bickering with the man standing at the foot of his bed directed his attention to the table placed there and that was laden with getting well cards as well as chocolate, Bertie Bott’s Beans and any other sweet you could think of. So in order to get distracted from his thoughts about how to destroy Dumbledore’s robes properly he sat up again to sort through what he got making three piles in the process. One for chocolates from Honeydukes, he simply loved those but he would give a few dark chocolate ones to Snape for rescuing him from Dumbledore, one for what he would give to Ron, mostly those horrendous beans, and one of those he could store for later. He was just finished when Madame Pomfrey came back to him. She again cast a diagnostic spell on him.
“From what I can tell you’re perfectly well and free to go but should anything be even if it is something as minor as an itching you come back here. Did I make myself clear?” she said with a stern look on her face.
“Sure Madame Pomfrey,” Harry answered dutifully while placing his sweets and cards in a box. As if he would follow her order, he would rather go another round with Dumbledore than going to the infirmary on his own free will.
“Good and take it lightly the next few days, so no too strenuous magic. Have a nice day,” with that, she turned around and went back to her office.
Harry looked after her wondering about something. He had told her that some madman threw the killing curse at him but she did not even comment on that. This left him curious. Did she think that he could not tell the difference between a normal curse and the unforgivable as if the incantation would not be a dead certain indicator? Alternatively, did she think that it was impossible that it was the killing curse since it is said to be fatal…always? Then he was famous for surviving it once so was it so unbelievable that he did it again? On the other hand, there was also the possibility that Dumbledore had his hands in this and made her keeping her silence.
There was no use in musing about it now since it was unlikely for him to find the answer to this riddle so he continued packing his things before leaving the hospital wing. Glad finally to be out of there he walked down the corridor.
“You know, Professor, you might fool the old meddler with hiding in the shadows but I know that you’re there,” he suddenly said without any preamble, snickering lowly and not even turning around.
“Mr. Potter, I wonder how long it will take you to find yourself back in the hospital wing. Perhaps you should move there completely,” Snape said stepping out from the shadow of the statue. “This at least would make it much easier for Madame Pomfrey. Since you’re arrival at Hogwarts the consumption of potions nearly doubled.”
“Oh, I think she has always a bed reserved for me. If I remember correctly it even has my nameplate on it,” finally he turned around facing his professor. “And to the higher consumption of potions…I wouldn’t want to put you out of work, would I?”
“As if it is a pleasure to keep up the potion stocks in the infirmary after having to teach dunderheads all day,” Snape retorted. “Worst of all you.”
“Aw, but I know you love me,” Harry now put on some mocking puppy dog eyes.
“Only in your dreams, only in your dreams.”
Harry finally cracked up not able to take it anymore and even Snape showed something everyone else would take for a scowl but Harry knew after many lessons with banter between them that it was a barely supressed smirk.
“Detention this evening. 7 o’clock sharp make sure you’re not late.”
“But I haven’t done anything,” Harry pouted knowing exactly what his teacher wanted but he had to tease him anyway. “Besides that Madame Pomfrey said I shall take it lightly for a few days.”
“Who can laugh at a teacher can also serve detention. See you at my office then,” Snape turned around and with his robes billowing behind him he stalked down the corridor.
Harry looked after him shaking his head. He really had to get him teaching how that worked. It simply looked amazing.
It was one minute before seven when Harry knocked at Snape’s office door. After a sharp `in´ coming from the other side he entered, walked over to one of the chairs in front of the huge oak desk and slumped down.
Snape rose an eyebrow upon that but said nothing more about it. He observed the boy for a few minutes who seemed fascinated by the many jars in the shelves behind him, thinking about what he learned about Potter within the last year.
Normally those jars intimidated students but Potter was the only one fascinated by them. Yesterday evening gave him a glimpse about the why.
Sure, he knew from the very first lesson on that Potter was different to those who normally graced his classroom. That at the very least showed his pop quiz. At first, he really had believed that Potter thought himself above reading a book but the boy’s retort changed that. How else would he otherwise have known which year the knowledge he asked about came from if he had not read the books up to that year? Snape did not doubt that the boy very well knew the answers but deliberately taunted him by feigning ignorance.
However, getting one over a Slytherin…Potter would have another thing coming. The problem with that plan? Potter could give as good as he got. Snape quickly had to revise his opinion that the boy was just like another one of those brainless Gryffindors especially after he caught him sitting in the Slytherin common room after curfew. What left him dumbstruck was what Potter answered upon his deduction of points. “While I have no problem with lost points I have to point out that the school rules only say that `the students have to be in the common rooms after curfew´. There is nothing to be said about in which one we have to be and since I am in a common room right now I’m strictly speaking not going against any rules.” Getting to know that Potter actually talked the hat out of placing him in Slytherin, which was a feat in itself since the hat normally never listened to what the students wanted, had been a huge blow against everything he thought he knew about the boy.
Then there was Halloween. At first, he assumed that this finally was the proof that Harry truly was a Gryffindor but when the boy told him what really happened he even if reluctantly had to admit that the hat was right. There was no way this boy was not a snake even when wearing a lion’s hide.
Why then this stupid display yesterday? Antagonising the Dark Lord as he had, was the best way to get cursed if not outright killed. On the other hand, he had seen first-hand that Potter kept him from getting cursed himself by the Dark Lord and the man even complied. He was missing something and he had to know what if he wanted to protect that idiotic brat.
“Would you mind explaining me what all that was about yesterday?” he finally said. Luckily, he had his office warded with the strongest silencing and privacy charms so that no one outside knew what was going on inside, not even Dumbledore.
“What part do you mean exactly?” Harry asked redirecting his attention to his professor. “A lot happened yesterday.”
“I don’t know where to start. You antagonizing the Dark Lord, you stopping him from cursing me…why did he not curse you for that and what deal did you make with him. Simply everything,” Snape sighed while brushing through his hair. “It is just…I don’t know what to think anymore.”
“It is quite simple really. I can antagonize him all I like because he cannot hurt me in any form. Should he try to hurt me I can redirect the pain he wants to inflict back to him. You can thank my mother for that. Before she died, Voldie asked her to step away from me three times but she only begged that he shall take her and spare me. Point is the moment he killed her first magic thought he would take her upon that and made it a vow to in exchange for her life not to hurt me,” Harry explained. “To the deal I made with him, it’s just that for the stone he takes care of a little problem of mine.”
Snape slumped back in his chair. “The Dark Lord really asked Lily to step aside? I always thought he simply killed her…that he broke his promise.”
“You didn’t know? It is true he asked her three times but she refused. Funny thing is that up to today I know of no instance where the Dark Lord didn’t keep a promise, unlike a certain headmaster,” he growled the last part.
Snape thought about it but he had to admit that he did not know about even one instance either and he knew the Dark Lord far longer than the boy sitting in front of his desk did. “What is that problem he is supposed to help you with?”
“Getting rid of my family,” Harry’s face darkened visibly.
Snape was confused. Why would the boy want to get rid of his family? “Why?” was his simple question.
“Have you never wonder why I was so thin? So small? That I looked more like a nine years old than eleven?” his voice was only a low growling and Snape knew instantly that he treated on very thin ice. That was when his brain finally progressed what the boy said and it dawned him. How could he have been so wrong? All the time he thought the boy was only a spoiled brat who loved the attention that brought being the Boy-who-lived with it. Sure, he was different than he had imagined, but that he was abused? This was nothing he would have thought in a million years but then again it actually explained so much. His ability to adapt to any give situation for example something even he as a seasoned spy admired.
Slowly but surely the last evening began to make sense to him. “But why saving me? Why risking the Dark Lord’s ire for me?” it was unquestionable that the boy liked their bantering but he doubted that it was enough to risk anything for him, the greasy git form the dungeons, as everyone knew him.
That question surprised Harry. He had anticipated a lot of questions but that one? Absolutely not! Did Snape think so lowly of himself that he assumed himself unworthy of any form of attention not related to his work? True, Harry told Voldemort that he had no friends but would he really have to elaborate whom he would deem worthy of being his friend Snape would lead that extremely short list, to be precisely he would be the only one on it. Hell that man had saved his life once, twice if you counted the incident in the infirmary this morning.
“Do you really think that I would leave you to Voldie’s mercy? The only person that means more to me than being an exchangeable pawn? There are very few people I like and even less that I trust…not to mention with my life.”
It seems that the surprises did not stop that evening for the potions master. The boy trusted him? Now that he thought about it, many small things started to pile up and point to the undeniable truth. For example, the Quidditch match where his broom got cursed. To his surprise the boy showed up on his doorstep afterwards and thanked him, even apologized for Granger’s wrong assumption. At that time, he found it odd but now…it seems that the boy had trusted him to prevent his untimely end by falling of the broom. Then again, the knowing smile he received after the troll incident. Not to mention all these scathing remarks during the lessons. At first he had assumed it was disrespect but after they talked that day he caught him in the Slytherin common room he knew that those remarks weren’t made out of impertinence but because Harry simply liked his snideness and to tell the truth he liked his to. It brought a refreshing touch to the otherwise monotone lessons.
“Who would have thought that the son of my childhood enemy likes me? The world is truly coming to an end,” he deadpanned.
Harry snorted. “And I thought I made clear by now that my father and I are nothing alike,” Snape had told him during one of their many detentions about his father and the Marauders. To say that Harry did not like them would be an understatement, another reason why he did mourn his parent’s death. Bullies simply were the worst kind of people.
“Too true. Your father would never follow the Dark Lord. That brings me to my next question, why do you? I mean you know what he’s capable of and his reputation not to mention what he tried to do to you.”
“Because he unlike a certain headmaster practises what he preaches. With him, I know where I stand. At first, he wanted to kill me but now that I showed abilities he admires I gained his respect and he even thinks about my ideas. Dumbledore on the other hand is a manipulative bastard covered in his grandfatherly behaviour and horrendous robes, who thinks that I am so stupid and become his nice little weapon without any questions. With Dumbledore, you always have to be careful that he does not stab you in the back, Voldemort on the other hand simply tells you that if you fail you are punished and he does not treat me like a child. Simple and straight forward,” Harry shrugged. “Oh and if Dumbledore finds out what I’m really capable of…”
“And that would be?” curiosity got the better of Snape.
Harry just smiled wickedly. “Perhaps you’ll find out soon,” he looked on his wristwatch and saw that it was short before curfew. “As much as I love to lose some additional points for roaming the corridors after curfew, I fear that there are several idiots in the Gryffindor common room waiting for me to tell my story. So it would stand out if I’m not there,” up to now he had successfully evaded them but now there was no other way than to face them.
“That surely isn’t something we would want,” Snape chuckled.
“I simply prefer not to get murdered by grumpy-cat for loosing house-points in such an obvious manner especially since we are already in the last spot thanks to my efforts,” he laughed.
“McGonagall,” he grinned.
“One last question, what the hell was that spell you use to knock me out?”
“Why? Did you have a headache?” Snape replied with a sadistic glee in his eyes.
“I don’t know whether I shall thank you for giving me the means to deceive Dumbledore properly or hex you into the next week for it,” he growled.
“It was you who suggested it in the first place so don’t complain about it now,” the man drawled feeling good for teasing him.
With a huff, Harry waved his good bye and left Snape’s office. A few minutes later, he sat in the Gryffindor common room and told the entire story again this time with the exaggerated additions from Weasley about how he had saved the day and the smart-alecky comments from Granger that without her he would not have figured out the potions riddle, as if he was stupid.