Harry was awoken by the muffled sound of rustling from somewhere in the room beyond. He fumbled for his glasses - shrunken to fit his smaller features and thus harder to find - with one hand and his wand with the other, forcing off the grogginess of interrupted sleep. He felt as if he could've slept for another week. The rustling continued, and he thrust his bed-curtain aside, brandishing his wand.
Seamus Finnigan jumped at the sudden movement, spinning to face him from where he knelt in front of his trunk. He scowled upon seeing Harry.
"What, you going to hex me for getting a jumper?" He gave him a deliberate once-over. "You shouldn't even be in here."
Harry matched his scowl at that, dropping his wand arm. He spotted a copy of The Daily Prophet on Seamus's bed.
"I have just as much right to be here as you do."
"Sure," Seamus scoffed. "Don't get your knickers in a twist." He ignored Harry's noise of outrage in favor of turning back to continue digging in his trunk and muttering to himself. Harry caught the words 'liar' and 'attention' and felt his face heat.
"If you've got something to say, then say it."
Seamus met his gaze evenly.
"You can't help it, can you? First your lies about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, now onto this? How much attention's going to be enough for you?"
"If you seriously think this was on purpose then you're even more stupid than I thought. You were there, you bloody idiot! It was an accident!" He was shouting now, but couldn't really find it in himself to care. If I'm lucky, everyone else will get the hint and leave me alone.
"It's awfully convenient, though, that of all of the people there it was you, isn't it?" His voice was raised now too, and Harry was annoyed at how much deeper it was than his own.
The door flew open before he could respond and Ron and Hermione paused at the entrance, looking with concern from Seamus's clenched fists and Harry's tight grip on his wand. They moved further into the room.
"What's going on? We heard shouting…" Ron trailed off uncertainly. "Harry?"
"Nothing; I was just leaving," Seamus growled, answering for him. He snatched up his things and shouldered his way past them, but stopped in the doorway to send a glare back at Harry. "You better find somewhere else to stay. It's a boys' dorm."
Then he was gone.
"What was that about?" Hermione asked, coming over to sit on the bed beside him. Harry buried his face in his hands as the fight drained out of him.
"He didn't seem too happy." Ron noted, settling on his own bed across from them.
"He's decided I've orchestrated this whole thing myself, since according to him I haven't got enough attention for myself yet."
"What?! But he was there!"
"That's what I said too, Ron. Idiot couldn't seem to get it through his head." He rubbed his face before dropping his hands and straightening his glasses. "He's right about one thing though; is it really a coincidence that this happened to me?"
"What do you mean? I don't really think anyone could have arranged for this to happen to you, Harry. The interaction of the potions is hard enough to predict, let alone that quantity…"
"I agree, Hermione, but what if this wasn't what they were trying for? I imagine it would've been just as easy for those potions to kill or cripple me."
Ron studied him for a moment.
"This isn't just about Seamus, is it?"
Harry shook his head and, after ensuring their privacy, told them about the strange vision he'd had after his panic attack. By the time he'd finished, both his friends were staring at him with eyes as wide as saucers.
"And you're sure this wasn't another of the dreams you've been having? It was actually him?"
"I think so. It felt so real. I - he - was so pleased. Really, really pleased. You don't think I'm mad, do you?"
Surprisingly, it was Ron who answered first, immediately shaking his head.
"I believe you, Harry. You said they mentioned St. Mungo's, but you don't know what that is, do you?" At Harry's agreement, he continued. "It's the wizarding hospital in London. You couldn't have just come up with that in a dream."
Hermione shifted on the bed.
"You're right Ron; it's far too specific. Harry, you've got to tell Dumbledore about this. He's got to know if you have a direct connection to You-Know-Who."
"I'd be happy to tell him if he could even look at me."
"Look, Hermione, okay, you're right. I want to go ask him if he's just about got a cure ready anyway; I'll tell him then. Happy? Good. Let's go to lunch."
Harry was aware that he could be accused of dragging his feet. He was similarly aware that such an accusation would likely be correct. But just because he was aware of it didn't mean he was going to be picking up his pace as he trudged toward Dumbledore's office. It wasn't his fault, after all, that he felt a sense of dread in the pit of his stomach when he imagined the headmaster's seeming inability to be in the same room as him for more than a few seconds, or that it made him feel rather more hurt than he liked to admit. It also didn't help that Harry wasn't at all certain that he would have a cure for him, despite his insistence that his accident had to be fairly commonplace, or that the idea of having an intimate connection to Voldemort sent an uncomfortable prickle through his scar.
All too soon he found himself in front of the stone gargoyle that concealed the entrance to the office. It was then that he realized he didn't have the password; he'd had Hermione ask McGonagall to send word of his visit to Dumbledore - he wasn't eager to give her an opportunity to force him into a girl's uniform or the girls' dormitory, so he was still avoiding contact - but hadn't thought to ask for the password. He stood there uncertainly, trying to rack his brain for a hint and suddenly feeling overexposed and rather silly in his ill-fitting clothes.
What were the passwords he used before? There was… Sherbet Lemon, and… Fizzing Whizbee, I think? He tried them to no avail. Perhaps some other sort of sweet? He tried 'Chocolate Frogs', 'Sugar Quills', 'Acid Pops', and 'Peppermint Toads' before the gargoyle finally sprung aside at 'Licorice Snaps' - a sweet he vaguely remembered as having bit his hand in Dumbledore's office the previous year. He squared his shoulders and straightened his sweater as best he could before making his way up.
"Come in," The headmaster called from beyond the door, and Harry complied, entering to find him seated at his desk, an impressive stack of parchment before him. "Ah, Harry, welcome. Professor McGonagall informed me that you had something you wished to discuss?"
He'd made brief eye contact but returned his attention to whatever he was working on just as quickly, and Harry bristled. He moved further into the room; a silent demand for acknowledgement.
"Yes, Professor. I was hoping you would have some news about a cure for my accident?"
"My apologies, Mr. Potter; there is a special team of Healers at St. Mungo's working on a solution, but none have been discovered as of yet. They've reached out to a few prominent potions masters, so we will have to wait to see if anything further comes from that collaboration. I understand that this must be a trying situation, but I see no reason to lose hope so soon. I expect we'll reach some form of resolution in little more than a week, in fact." His hand flew across the parchment, pausing only to replenish the ink on his quill before resuming his writing.
"Thanks for the news, Professor." He barely tried to keep from biting the words out. When had Dumbledore been planning on telling him any of this? Would he have been kept in the dark - yet again - if he hadn't come here himself? And what could the old wizard possibly be working on that he couldn't even stop to actually talk to him? He had seen Cedric die, had seen the man who'd killed his parents come back, and Dumbledore couldn't as much as look at him? Harry gritted his teeth and turned to leave.
"Oh, Mr. Potter, I should warn you before you go. It seems that reporters from The Daily Prophet and a few other publications have set up tents outside of our gates in the hopes of getting a word with you. I trust you will be appropriately cautious."
If he'd been Hermione, his hair would've been sparking.
"Well what did he say about your dreams?"
"I didn't get a chance to tell him."
"He couldn't look at me Hermione. He couldn't wait to get me out of there! How was I supposed to say anything?"
"You could at least go to Professor McGonagall. You're not still avoiding her, are you?"
He mumbled noncommittally, and Hermione narrowed her eyes and leaned forward.
"Harry, she's just trying to help you. I'm sure she wouldn't force you into anything you weren't comfortable with."
Ron snorted, and she shot him a look.
"What," He shrugged. "Don't you remember the Yule Ball?"
The memory of Ron being dragged around the room by their professor to the sound of classical music flashed through his mind, and Harry could tell the others were having a similar experience. Hermione shook herself a little as if to dispel the image.
"Honestly, Ronald, that isn't the same at all."
"Sure felt uncomfortable to me." He muttered, and Harry tried to stifle a grin. When they made eye contact, though, they couldn't keep from bursting into laughter. Hermione sighed as she watched them before cracking a smile herself.
"Oh all right, I'll admit that was pretty bad. But surely she wouldn't make you do anything so bad as that."
Harry sobered quickly.
"She would, Hermione," Hermione looked ready to argue, so he rushed on. "If Seamus hasn't gone to her already, he will. And I am not sleeping in your room just because I happen to look like a girl right now. I'd rather sleep in the common room."
"He's right," Ron added. "You know how McGonagall is when it comes to the rules. 'Sides, wouldn't it be weird if Harry caught one of you changing when he'll be a bloke again by next week?"
Hermione bit her lip.
"I suppose that's a good point… And it shouldn't really make a difference if you stay in your dorm looking like that since you'll be healed soon enough. Would it really make you that much more comfortable?" Her cheeks colored a bit at the look he gave her, and nodded decisively. "Alright. No need to go to the Professor without a real emergency. But you will tell her if you have another, won't you?"
Harry privately thought that he'd rather sample one of the twins' new inventions than risk McGonagall, but he doubted it would be a wise thing to vocalize to Hermione and merely agreed. That seemed to appease her, and they spent the rest of the evening working on the Transfiguration and Charms homework that they'd already accrued. When Harry fell into bed that night - firmly ignoring the tightly drawn curtains around Seamus and Dean's beds - his mind felt almost pleasantly worn out and he slowly drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you thought and where you think things are going to go, I'd really appreciate it :)
Much love, Miss Luxe