""You okay, dude?"
"What?" Robin pulled his gaze away from the darkened warehouse.
"Are you okay? You seem kind of distracted," the red head beside him asked, green eyes full of concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Perfectly fine. Better than fine," Robin nodded to Kid Flash.
The black haired teen couldn't exactly tell Kid Flash what was bothering him. It wasn't something he could talk to with anyone except maybe Alfred. The butler was the only who knew the entire situation, and could understand where Dick was coming from. Dick couldn't share it with anyone outside of the Batcave right now no matter how good of a friend Wally had become to him.
His problem? Dick missed Harry.
It had been three months since Dick had seen the other boy. Sure he was at magic school but there had been zero communication between them. Last year even though Harry had been gone they had constantly been sending letters back and forth to each other. The younger boy had become his best friend.
They were almost like brothers. Or at least Dick had thought they were. He understood Harry was angry about the secret but how could they fix things if they didn't speak? Unless, Harry didn't want to fix things? Or maybe he didn't know how? Harry definitely took after Bruce when it came to his understanding of how to handle relationships.
Dick knew the lack of contact was also getting to Bruce.
Batman was a bit harsher, throwing himself fully into his work in order to ignore his personal problems. The man was too stubborn to reach out to Harry first. Bruce believed giving Harry space to come to his own decision was the better option. Dick suspected stubbornness was a trait Harry inherited from Bruce, and probably wouldn't be the one to reach out first either. This meant that it was up to Dick to come up with a plan to get all of them back together.
"That sounds very reassuring," Kid Flash eyed him skeptically.
"Hey, chatterboxes, this isn't the time to talk about our feelings. I don't know if either of you remember but we're kind of on a stakeout here. You know the first one that our mentors are letting us do solo together? If we ever want to stop being sidekicks this is the first step."
Robin and Kid Flash glanced to their left. The red clad, bow-toting figure was glaring at them. Dick and Wally were still trying to feel their way out with Green Arrow's protégé. Their acquaintance was still relatively new. Speedy was a bit abrasive but Dick couldn't deny that he was very capable, more capable than Wally was when he first took up the mantle of Kid Flash. But Wally was getting better, and he had become one of Dick's closest friends. Hopefully given some time Speedy would turn out to be the same.
Harry went from being his enemy to being his closest friend. Back to being his enemy sort of? Maybe? It was hard to tell since they hadn't actually spoken since Harry found out the truth.
"Right, sorry. Let's do this," Robin refocused himself to the task at hand: illegal drug smuggling of some low level crooks in Star City.
Robin had faced much more terrifying situations in Gotham but not without his mentor there or at least not without being in the same city. The same could be said for the other two young heroes. They all wanted to prove themselves to their mentors. They wanted to earn their places in the Justice League one day.
The dealers they'd been waiting for came in to view. The three young heroes prepared to attack. Even as Robin prepared to swing down he couldn't help but wonder what Harry was doing at the moment.
"Lockhart is terrible," Theo hissed as he slammed one of Lockhart's books shut.
"He really is," Harry agreed.
He thought the thin boy would have burned the books if it wasn't for the fact that they needed them to complete their homework, and Theo was nearly as obsessed with getting good grades as Hermione was.
To Harry's surprise the thin, brown haired boy had been sticking close to Harry's side this year. They'd been friendly acquaintances last year since they shared a room but the other Slytherin seemed to have finally decided he wanted to actually be Harry's friend. Harry was pleased to have another friend. Hermione and Neville were great friends but it was nice to have someone in the same house as himself. Someone to have meals with, and who shared all of his classes.
It helped fill in the missing piece that Dick left behind; although, Dick wasn't the one to leave him behind. It was Harry who'd left the other boy. Harry had thought about reaching out to Dick several times over the last couple of months. But every time he was about to, he stopped himself at the last moment. Harry still couldn't quite face the truth just yet.
"We should poison him," Blaise suggested.
Blaise had likewise become more of a friend this year. But Harry was certain it was because Blaise still wanted to hook his mom up with Harry's dad after learning that Bruce was one of the wealthiest men on the planet. The three of them were in their dorm room preparing to head to bed for the evening.
Hogwarts was already well into its third month. Honestly, Harry was surprised it had taken this long for Theo to snap about Lockhart. Harry had wanted to get rid of the blonde buffoon in the very first class they had with him. The desire only grew as Lockhart repeatedly called on Harry in an attempt to get him to act out various scenes in his books.
"Why is that always your answer to everything?" Theo glared.
"It's a method that's been proven effective," Blaise sniffed.
"Well, I guess you'd know," Theo drawled.
Blaise started to puff up with indignation at the perceived slight to his mother.
"I'll do it," Harry offered with a smirk.
"You will?" Blaise's surprise quickly turned to intrigue. "How?"
"I have my ways," Harry answered mysteriously.
"You won't really poison him, Wayne," Theo scoffed.
"How do you know I won't?"
"You're too good. You've never even gotten a detention before," Blaise answered for Theo.
"I'm not too good. Neither of you know what I'm really capable of," Harry grumbled.
Theo and Blaise had never seen him destroy parts of a city before.
"Whatever you say, Wayne," Blaise rolled his eyes.
Theo smiled indulgently at him.
Harry felt his resolve settle. He'd prove them wrong. Harry had been in more fights than his Slytherin roommates could ever imagine.
Three weeks later Harry was dipping his finger into Lockhart's tea while the famous wizard's back was turned. Harry had finally accepted the man's offer to have tea with him, and receive 'pointers' from the blonde idiot about how to deal with his fame. He only accepted the offer in order to prove to Blaise and Theo that he would go through with the poisoning.
Harry was risking a lot by doing this, and if he wasn't extremely careful he could really hurt Lockhart. But he wanted to prove it to himself. Harry had spent the last three weeks extensively testing his toxicity levels. It was past time that he should have anyway. Harry discovered a quick dip of his finger in tea would be enough to knock the professor out, and then make him ill for a little while.
He wanted to prove his dad wrong. Harry wasn't a good person. He couldn't become a hero like his dad and Dick.
Lockhart turned back around with yet another framed photo of himself smiling and waving. The blonde idiot blathered on about the lighting and the robes he was wearing and the impression it created. Harry tuned him out only nodding and smiling. Lockhart didn't need any further encouragement than that to keep expounding upon his own virtues. It was like looking at a caricature of his dad's Brucie Wayne persona, and it made Harry hate him all the more.
Eventually the incompetent Defense Against the Dark Arts professor took another sip of his tea. With all of the talking he'd done Harry had been expecting him to do it sooner.
The blonde wizard took a sip of his tea, and within moments his eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped over.
For a moment Harry felt a sting of guilt. He didn't want to seriously maim or murder Lockhart. Harry reminded himself that Lockhart would be fine, and everyone would hopefully get a week Lockhart free.
He slipped out of the room. On his way back to the Slytherin common room he ran into someone surprising.
"Ginny? What are you doing down here?" Harry eyed Ron's younger sister.
She wasn't quite what Harry had been expecting. The red haired girl was much quieter than the rest of the Weasleys, and as the year progressed the more and more withdrawn from everyone she became.
At the moment she was pale and almost seemed to be trembling. Ron had told him Ginny had a crush on him, which was why she was so skittish but Harry didn't think this was a typical response to running into a crush. She looked ill and a little disoriented.
"Are you okay, Ginny?" Harry pressed when it looked like the girl wasn't going to respond, and just stare at him with wide eyes.
"I'm fine, thanks Harry," she whispered.
"Do you need me to walk you back to your dorm? It's almost curfew, and the second floor is quite a ways from the Gryffindor dormitory," Harry offered awkwardly.
"No! I don't need your help, Potter!" she snapped.
Harry jerked back a little at vehemence from the small girl.
"Sorry, I can find my own way back," she murmured meekly, her shoulders hunching to make herself even smaller.
The oscillation between angry to timid gave Harry whiplash. He didn't know Ginny at all but her behavior was definitely odd. It didn't seem right just to leave her here in the dark corridors so late in the evening by herself despite her refusal of his offer either. She clearly appeared unwell, and disoriented.
But before Harry could do anything else she took off down the corridor. For a moment he hesitated. He considered chasing after her but figured that might just spook her even more.
"She is headed in the right direction I suppose," Harry shook his head and once again began making his way to the Slytherin common room.
Harry mentioned the encounter to Ron the next morning while they were waiting for Defense Against the Dark Arts to start.
If it started at all thanks to Harry's little visit to Lockhart last night. He couldn't wait to see Blaise and Theo's faces when they found out.
"She's been weird all summer. Mum just thinks she's having a hard time adjusting to being away from home. We're supposed to give her, her space, and let her figure things out on her own," Ron shrugged it off, not seeming too concerned.
"If you say so," Harry supposed Ron would know better than him if something was wrong with his own sister. He saw her more often as well since they were in the same house and all. Surely, he or one of his other brothers would notice if something was off with their sister.
"Mr. Wayne," Snape's deep growl drew Harry's attention.
"Sir?" Harry eyed the black robed figure where he hovered in the doorway to the Defense classroom.
"Take a seat. Class is about to start," Snape snapped.
"Oh, Merlin, why is he here?" Ron muttered.
"Who knows," Harry did an internal dance, and settled into a seat besides Theo. Snape strode towards the front of the room barking out commands as he strode passed the rows of desks.
Harry was quick to regret his decision to poison Lockhart.
He couldn't decide who was worse as a professor: Snape or Lockhart. Lockhart was incompetent but at least he was easy enough to tune out and ignore. Snape while competent was just a terrible teacher and an even worse human being. Harry sincerely wished they had offed each other at the dueling club meeting. Then they could have just started fresh with new, better professors.
He'd missed the dueling club since he'd been spending time with Chloris in the forest, and he'd regretted it ever since. Harry would have loved to see Lockhart tossed across the room. If only someone had managed to take out Snape.
But he did enjoy the time he spent with Chloris. His flower had grown by leaps and bounds over the summer, and she had missed him. Harry found himself spending a lot of time with her. He couldn't tell anybody else the problems he was going through. No one at Hogwarts knew about what happened this summer. Harry couldn't betray Bruce's well kept secret no matter how much he didn't like him anymore.
"Professor Snape, where's Professor Lockhart?" Lavender Brown dared to question. Harry supposed there was a reason the girl was in Gryffindor.
She'd had her hand in the air for several minutes but Snape had studiously avoided calling on her despite clearly seeing her.
"Ten points from Gryffindor for calling out, Ms. Brown."
Draco raised his hand, and Snape called on him.
"Where is Professor Lockhart, Professor?" Draco smirked at Lavender.
The brunette flushed, and Harry wondered again if he'd poisoned the wrong professor. Snape was always so needlessly cruel to non-Slytherin students and Harry.
Harry would have liked to repeat the stunt on Snape but the greasy haired wizard would never allow him near his tea.
"Professor Lockhart is under the weather. I will be taking over Defense classes for the rest of the week," Snape announced stalking up to the blackboard. "Now, put away the drivel Lockhart calls a novel. We're actually going to learn something useful today."
Harry perked up.
The only good part about this was the looks of shock on Blaise and Theo's faces, and that they were actually going to learn some defensive spells.
Harry just sent them a pleased smirk that was reminiscent of his mother. Blaise started laughing which caused Snape to turn on him. Any non-Slytherins would have gotten a week's worth of detention for laughing aloud like that in class but Blaise just got a stern look.
The rest of the week passed relatively quickly, and Lockhart eventually recovered and returned. To the disappointment of most of the student body.
"I'm glad to see Professor Lockhart is back," Hermione enthused as they settled in to the library for their daily study sessions.
"Yeah, it's just wonderful," Harry sighed.
"I almost miss Snape," Neville lamented.
"Neville! Professor Snape is so rude to you. Professor Lockhart is much nicer," Hermione argued.
"I know, I know. I hate to say it but we actually learned things from Snape," Neville shot back.
"I agree with Neville, Snape knows his spells. Lockhart just knows how to make his hair shiny and teeth ultra white," Harry agreed with Neville.
"Lockhart hasn't taught us any spells. Not any real ones anyway," Nevilled grumbled.
Neville wouldn't have dared to say anything like that to Hermione last year. The other boy had really grown. It made Harry smile to see his friend coming out of his shell.
Hermione fumbled a bit trying to come up with a reason to prove Lockhart was competent. But she couldn't, there was no way, not after months of his buffoonery. Only her innate deference to professors kept her from saying anything negative about him.
"He's written so many books. Professor Lockhart has to know more than he's letting on. Maybe the spells are just too advance for us to learn just yet," Hermione frowned.
"Hermione, just because it's in a book doesn't mean—"
Harry was cut off by a crash. The three of them twisted towards the source of the sound. Ginny Weasley was crumpled on the ground surrounded by a pile of books. She was ghostly pale, and appeared to be unconscious.
"Ginny!" Hermione was the first one out of her seat.
Neville and Harry followed behind.
Hermione reached out to touch Ginny only for the red haired girl to swat Hermione's hand away.
"I'm fine, I just tripped over the leg of the table," the younger witch snapped.
Hermione jerked back while Neville and Harry hovered awkwardly.
Ginny quickly pulled herself to her feet, and swiftly gathered up her books.
"Are you sure? We should go see Madame Pomp—"
"Yes," Ginny growled, cutting Hermione off.
"Maybe I should get Percy," Neville offered.
"No, everything is fine," Ginny scrambled to gather up all of her dropped belongings.
"You missed a book," Hermione scooped up a small black leather book to try and help her.
Ginny snatched it out of Hermione's hands. "Don't touch that!"
"I'm sorry I was just trying to help," Hermione held her hands up in surrender.
"I don't need help. I don't need to go to the hospital wing," Ginny leapt to her feet and ran out of the library.
"That was odd," Neville observed.
"I don't think she tripped. I think she fainted. She looks ill," Hermione frowned in concern.
"I thought so too. I mentioned it to Ron the other day when I found her wandering in the second floor corridor but he seemed to think she was fine," Harry shrugged.
"Hmm, maybe I should go talk to him about what just happened. Do you know where he is Neville?" Hermione turned to the other boy.
"I think he was in the common room with Dean and Seamus."
"Perfect, lets go get him," Hermione latched on to Neville and started pulling the poor boy along.
"You can't go in the Gryffindor common room, Hermione!" Neville cried.
"That's why you'll go in and get him for me," Hermione was quick to reply.
"I guess that's the end of that study session," Harry turned to go and retrieve his books and school bag.
The event was pushed from his mind as the days passed and the holidays rapidly approached. Harry would be going back to Gotham for the first time in months, and he knew he would have to finally confront his dad. The months away had been good to get his mind off the situation to distance himself from the shock of it and the feelings of hurt. He'd had months to think about it, and Harry thought he'd come to a decision.
Harry needed to speak to his dad. He would need to reach out to him over the break.
"What are you doing for the holidays, Harry?" Theo asked him the week before their break.
"I'm heading home to Gotham. What about you?"
In the months of a closer friendship with Theo, Harry had learned quite a bit about the other boy. His mother had died when he'd been young, and Harry got the impression his father was a harsh and demanding man. Theo didn't have any siblings or other close relatives, and Harry was certain that Theo lived a very lonely live in the Nott family home.
"Just going home. Do you think maybe you might be able to come visit me?" Theo looked tentatively hopeful.
"Maybe? There's sort of something I need to do over the break."
Theo wilted slightly.
"I probably won't be able to make it before Christmas. But maybe New Years?"
"That would be great!" Theo enthused, brightening immediately.
Harry smiled and went back to writing his letters to Alfred and Dick. They were long overdue after all.