Thanks for all the reviews so far, and how cool is the traffic feature? I love see everyone's countries from around the world pop up there. I really appreciate the reviews, and they encourage me to write faster. Sorry in advance for any Americanisms that may pop up throughout the story. I try to catch all the obvious ones, but as I'm an American, they can be hard to spot. Now, on to chapter two where Snape's curiosity leads him to investigate the Potter puzzle.
Disclaimer: I still don't own Harry Potter, but I do own Flurry.
Chapter Two ~ Floating Peacefulness
Harry slumped into the chair as the potion worked through his body. His limbs felt like lead, and he couldn't fight the effects of the calming draught in his lethargy, leaving him at the mercy of his hated professor, but in some ways Harry enjoyed the artificial fuzzy state. He was free of worry, felt lighter than he could ever remember feeling. Harry could brew a perfect potion right in front of Snape, not even his professor standing over him could fluster him. Harry felt peaceful. He never wanted that feeling to go away.
"Mr. Potter, are you able to continue without further teenage melodrama?" Snape asked, his snarky tone not affecting Harry one bit.
"Of course, please continue," Harry smiled, curling his feet up under him. The fire's warmth felt fantastic on his skin. Despite the warmer temperatures as summer approached, Harry found himself cold more often than not.
"As I was trying to say before," Snape snapped in annoyance, "Professor Dumbledore has arranged for you to stay at Hogwarts for the summer."
"That's great," Harry shifted into the corner of the wingback chair wishing he could summon a blanket, but that would involve magic, and despite the effects of the potion remembered that performing magic wasn't a good idea.
"Potter! We aren't finished talking, and don't you dare fall asleep in my chair. I will not play babysitter to a Gryffindor brat," Snape snapped.
"Then hurry up, sir. I'm tired."
Harry watched Snape jump up from his chair, full of fury. Maybe he shouldn't have said that, but it was true. Snape strode over to him, leveling himself to Harry's eye level. He knew he should be worried, scared, some kind of negative emotion. Harry, however, couldn't help but let out a tired giggle. When he wasn't worried about repercussion, the fire in Snape's obsidian eyes that seemed to laser beam across the room to melt some unsuspecting object like some of those shows Dudley watched on the telly was quite amusing.
"You will be staying here, Potter, in my quarters, at my mercy! You'll spend your days in lessons including occlumency, and I will not tolerate the despicable attempts you employed this year," Snape yelled, his finger waving in front of Harry's face. "You will follow my instructions or face the consequences, and if you hold even a miniscule amount of intelligence, you'll get up from my chair this instance and return to Gryffindor Tower where we will ignore each other until forced to cohabitate for the summer!"
Shrugging seemed to infuriate the professor even further if a teacup hurled against the wall was any indication. What else could he do? Yell and scream like Snape? It wasn't as if he had a say to where he'd go this summer. Dumbledore never cared about what Harry wanted. He was expected to follow Dumbledore's orders, and his summer plans wasn't something worth fighting the amazing lightness the potion provided.
"Potter, ten seconds before I hex you into oblivion! Move!" Snape barked, pulling Harry up. He swayed on his feet, dizziness sweeping over him. His legs shook until his knees buckled, and Harry prepared himself to meet the cold hard floor of Snape's quarters.
Cursing himself, Severus caught Potter before the brat could hurt himself again. The last thing he needed was for Potter to hurt himself and blame it on him. The brat's insignificant weight against his robes reminded him he needed to do something about the teen's current state. Severus, against his better judgment, lugged Potter over his shoulder and took him to the room the house-elf made.
When he entered the room, Severus was surprised. The room was small and not at all furnished like he thought Albus would instruct. A single bed stood in the far corner with a nightstand on the side. A basic desk that wasn't much more than a table sat opposite the bed with a bookshelf above, and a wardrobe was situated to his left. At the end of the bed was a door that Severus assumed led to a bathroom.
Severus pulled the covers down before lowering Potter down onto the bed, his hand supporting the boy's hand until it hit the pillow. With Potter's shabby trainers removed and Potter's wand set on the nightstand, Severus spread the covers over the teen. He refused to tuck James Potter's son in bed. No, he was merely making sure Potter didn't fall ill from the coolness of the dungeons. Severus did it to protect himself, or so he told himself.
Walking back into the sitting room Severus almost crushed Potter's hideous glasses that lay on the ground forgotten where they must've fallen from Potter's face in the trek to the bedroom. It was a shame such an eyesore hid the beautiful green eyes the brat inherited from his mother. Lily. Severus sighed. He refused to go down that road tonight.
Bending down to pick up Potter's glasses, he found another reason to be glad his spying days were over. His back popped and cracked as he stood up making him wonder how long he could've continued in the Dark Lord's ranks. At thirty-six he was young, but multiple bouts of the Cruciatus curse left marks. His creaky joints made him feel like an old man, and he only hoped the effects would lessen over time.
After placing Potter's glasses on the nightstand beside the holly wand, Severus sat down on the sofa he never could get rid of. Despite its ramshackle appearance, the navy sofa was his most comfortable piece of furniture. The cushions sank in just right, and it was here where he took to grading, reading, or pondering the latest mysteries like the one he found himself faced with despite the rampant rumors that suggested otherwise. How could his students really think he was a coffin-sleeping vampire when they saw him eat everyday?
Potter should not have acted that way after consuming the standard calming draught. His reaction was similar to a Muggle's reaction, but that didn't make any sense. There was no question that Potter possessed magical ability. The teen had magic to spare, his power levels superior to any of his peers, and since he was older now, probably superior to any student in Hogwarts, including the departing seventh years.
"Meow," the white cat demanded attention as she climbed into Severus' lap.
"What do you want?" Severus asked detached as he started to pet the fluffy bundle of fur that always left his robes speckled with white and caused him to invent a spell just for that purpose.
"Meow," the little monster insisted, butting her head against her master's hand.
"Hold on, you little attention seeker. You act as if I never feed you." Severus said, his voice as stern as Hagrid's. After taking a few treats out of the inconspicuous jar on the coffee table, he placed them on the floor, which caused Flurry to jump from his lap to the floor, a soft purr emanating from her tiny body. Flurry crunched up the treats and stopped to rub up against his leg before slinking off to check out the new guest.
"Even my cat likes Potter better than me," Severus grumbled to himself before continuing his pondering. He liked puzzles, part of the reason he enjoyed potions so much. What was going on with Potter? A student just didn't pass out in his class without being subjected to a potions accident, not even on test days. Well except for Miss Johnson during her first year due to her nerves. The poor girl's mother was a potions mistress and expected nothing but the highest grades in potions for her daughter.
Back to the Potter mystery. He hadn't noticed anything different in the time since the Ministry incident except for Potter's obvious grief. The boy had even managed a passing grade on his end-of-term exam, an exam Severus had been thoroughly looking forward to marking with a big T. Severus thought back to after breakfast when he first encountered Potter. In retrospect, Severus cringed at his own actions getting Potter down to his quarters. Maybe if he hadn't been so forceful and answered a simple question, the teen wouldn't have worked himself up so much before ever entering his quarters. There was no question the boy didn't trust him. Severus noticed the fear in those emerald eyes. He didn't need to legilimize the boy to know Potter thought he was being kidnapped. As if Severus could ever consider the notion. He'd like to live without Lily coming back to haunt him.
There was one thing. Why hadn't the boy used his wand? Harry never even reached for the stick of holly that Severus was horrified to find out resided in Potter's back pocket. Didn't the teen know how valuable that wand was? Come to think of it, Severus hadn't seen Potter using his wand since he returned from the Ministry. Did a stray hex hit the brat? But that didn't explain why Poppy released him. She was a very thorough bordering on annoying mediwitch. She was sure to have run diagnostic scans to look for hexes and curses. Severus saw Albus send the brat to the Hospital Wing upon return, and Potter had been there again after passing out in Potions.
A whoosh interrupted Severus' pondering, bringing Albus into his quarters. "Ah my dear boy, here you are," Albus greeted in loud violet robes decorated with fluttering snitches. "I'm sorry to invite myself, but is Harry here? His friends are worried after he ran out of breakfast. Harry seems to be missing."
Severus hated that Albus still called him a boy. It made him feel too young like he was still a student instead of a seasoned professor and head of house and something else that he could never identify.
"Yes, Potter is here," Severus confirmed striding over to the chairs beside the fireplace. Albus would've firecalled if that were his only question. They sat down, Albus conjuring and serving tea and sweets.
"Good. I assume then you told Harry about our arrangements. Where is he?" Albus asked, his eyes searching for his golden boy.
"Sleeping," Severus waved to the hall after setting down his teacup. "It seems a calming draught was too much to handle for his depleted state, which frankly concerns me. I think there is more than what Poppy detected."
"Nonsense," Albus dismissed the notion. "I was in the room when Poppy ran the scans after his return. She did nothing wrong, and the scans revealed nothing. Have a lemon tart, Severus. The elves put just enough lemon to get the perfect amount of tangy goodness." Albus pushed the tray of tarts closer to Severus.
"You are off your rocker if you haven't learned that I despise lemon tarts yet," Severus retorted as he crossed his arms across his chest, annoyed with Albus for dismissing his theory so quickly.
"Perhaps I am, or perhaps one day you will shock me enough to need Poppy's assistance by taking a lemon tart."
Severus watched Albus take another lemon tart, the old man's eyes twinkling with every bite. If the Headmaster didn't have any other questions, then he'd like to get to his grading. Severus had a whole stack of tests and papers to grade before the week was out. Half the morning had already been wasted, and it was ruining his grading schedule. Today he was supposed to finish grading first and second year exams, and start on the seventh year cornerstone projects. It was the first day sans lessons, and he was already falling behind. It didn't bode well for the rest of the week.
"How did Harry take the news, my boy?" Albus asked as he poured himself another cup of tea.
"By then he was already under the influence of the calming draught, so of course he took it well. I expect outrage when he wakes though and realizes what was said," Severus answered with the truth, twisting it to leave out pertinent information. There were some benefits to being a spy for so long.
"Yes, that is to be expected. I hope you both learn to control your tempers and learn from each other. He is not who you think he is as I have mentioned many times yet you still seem to think he is nothing but James' clone."
Severus dug his nails into his arms. The insufferable brat would always be just that, insufferable. He promised the Headmaster he'd try to control his temper over the summer, but once term began again in the fall all bets were off. If he didn't have to live with the boy, he wouldn't have even promised that. He would not get attached to the boy despite it making learning occlumency easier. Potter would have to deal with it.
"Dobby told me he was by to create Harry's room. Is it satisfactory?"
"Yes, but not much else. The room is tiny, Albus. Where do you expect the boy to put his things or spend time?" Severus said, not believing that in a weird sort of way he was defending the boy.
"Harry will not think so, Severus. It would not due to have the boy spoiled now," Albus said, standing up from his chair to move towards the floo. "I will tell Harry's friends that he is safe and will return to them soon. Please see that Harry doesn't stay too long. It would not be wise to let others get wind of the plan before summer even begins."
"I promise not to keep Potter any longer than necessary. You may take him with you if you desire, I have a mountain of grading to do," Severus said, knowing Dumbledore would insist upon Harry staying until he woke up.
"No, Harry needs his rest after all. We can't expect his core to replenish itself by playing Quidditch. I shall see you at dinner, my boy." And with that suggestion that might as well be a demand, Albus flooed back to his office.
The Headmaster's lack of concern and empathy bothered Severus. He had seen it all year. Albus consistently walked the other way when Potter approached. Albus blamed it on the boy not knowing occlumency, but that excuse didn't hold now. Potter himself knew the prophecy and still Albus refused to meet with Potter. And Albus couldn't be that angry over the trinkets Potter destroyed in his office. A few reparo charms, and the office was as good as new.
One thing, however, was certain. Despite Dumbledore's dismissal that something was wrong, Potter's first stop upon waking would be the Hospital Wing where Poppy could rerun her magical scans and Severus could peruse Potter's file. Perhaps that's where his answer lay. Knowing he wouldn't get any grading done until he solved the Potter puzzle, Severus flooed to retrieve Potter's file using the privileges granted to the resident potions master to look for allergies before settling back onto his sofa with the tome sized file.
Flurry says to review. Any ideas as to what's wrong with Harry? I'm curious to see if anyone can guess. I'm about 2/3 of the way through writing chapter three, so it should be up within the next few days provided I don't go crazy on revisions. There might also be a little contest attached to that chapter so watch out for that.