Chapter Two

Severus walked through the sleeping castle slowly. His limbs were heavy, but his mind was even more so. The sun was soon to rise and he had spent all night invisible in the Dursley home letting the house's memories seep into him. He had just been able to finish seeing the condensed version of Harry's experiences in the house until the boy turned eleven when his alarm had gone off. He had to leave if he were to get even a little rest before classes started.

To be honest, Severus had been very grateful for the break. He'd been appalled at what he had seen: a fat pampered and growing more abusive cousin, a psychotic aunt and uncle, and a meek little Harry Potter. A Potter starved, worked to the bone with heavy chores, and living in a dark, insect infested cupboard. He could hardly believe it. Harry really did belong in Slytherin for being able to hide his true mental state so thoroughly.

But Dumbledore was right as well. Potter was strong. Despite the years of abuse and believing he was trash, Harry still played and smiled in his cupboard. He had given up on pleasing his family at a young age and hadn't been willing to do anything for praise. Harry had somehow kept his heart gentle and true to himself.

Severus sighed and walked into the infirmary. Poppy was in her office sleeping. He hated to wake her, but Potter's bed was empty and he had to see the boy. She murmured that Albus had put him in a bedroom and connected it to a hidden door behind her bookshelf. She tapped three books, he carefully memorized which, and it swung aside.

The room was small, cozy. It had a four poster bed with blue sheets and white curtains. Harry lay small and fragile within it and Severus sat with him for a while. He didn't speak or touch the Gryffindor. He just felt like he had to be near him after seeing all he had. Poppy said nothing about this and helped the boy get down healing potions and renewed healing spells. Severus promised her more healing and nutrient potions. She thanked him and he made his way to his bed and an hour of sleep.

"What's going on, Godfather?" Draco asked softly as he followed Severus to the Great Hall for breakfast, seeing the man's tired and tense face.

"Leave it, Draco." Severus said just as quietly. Draco did as he was asked. He slowed so the Potion Master strode into the room before him, and then followed.

His thoughts drifted to his housemates. So far the others in his House hadn't known what to make of him. Those he had considered his friends asked him questions, but very vague ones. He waited patiently. He'd make his beliefs known when asked, and he'd set an example with his actions, but he wasn't about to flaunt his new mindset. He just hoped not all of his House turned against him when they realized what he was doing.

He took his seat between Pansy and Blaise. The girl eyed him curiously, but Blaise ate without acknowledging his presence. Draco grabbed some toast and sipped hot tea slowly. His eyes scanned the Hall. The Gryffindor table was subdued. Weasley and Granger sat alone without the Golden Boy. Both looked wrung out. His eyes snapped to his godfather, but Severus was not looking at him. He was eating single-mindedly.

"The year's not even started and he's already off on an adventure." Draco snorted.

"Who?" Pansy asked.

"Potter." Vince answered and everyone turned surprised eyes his way. Many thought he and Greg were dumb because they rarely spoke, but Slytherin knew that wasn't true. But still, it usually took a few minutes before everyone else caught up with Draco. For Vincent to be right on his friend's mental heals was impressive. Unless he knew something the others didn't.

"What do you know?" Draco asked indifferently.

"Potter is supposedly not coming to Hogwarts this year. At least not for a while. He's receiving special training."

"Interesting." Blaise murmured, his eyes now locked on Gryffindor. "But do you see what I'm seeing?"

"Everyone looks disappointed, but those that knew Potter best are more than that." Pansy caught on, her own eyes on their rival House.

"They are worried and upset." Draco agreed.

"Looks like the Golden Boy finally flew too close to the sun." Blaise smirked.

Draco looked again to the Head table and saw his godfather's tired face in profile. He knew that look. He was very worried. Draco felt his gut clench and his eyes harden. He looked back at his closest friends and noticed he had all of their attention. Some were wary, others curious. He made sure to look in all of their eyes, weighing them, silently asking if he could trust them to follow him without betraying him.

"I think it's something worse." He finally spoke.

"Want us to nose around?" Greg asked.

He nodded, and they finished their breakfast planning on how they were going to do that without being caught. Severus came around passing out their timetables. He said very little. When he went by Draco, he refused to look into the teen's eyes. Blaise covered the tension by loudly complaining about his first class. Pansy followed his lead. Severus relaxed and continued on, but was aware that Draco's eyes still followed him.

"Where's your little hero?" Pansy sneered as she met up with Hermione in Advanced Potions.

The Gryffindor looked different. She had grown over the summer. Her hair was no longer bushy, but instead glossy and wavy down past her shoulders. Her breasts had gotten fuller and heavier and her hips a bit more curvy. Pansy only hoped she hadn't changed internally. Otherwise her tactics wouldn't work. Hermione glared at the blonde, and turned her nose up at her.

"Don't worry, sweetheart." Pansy said with as much mockery as she could. "I'm sure he'll come back to you." Hermione's eyes tightened and Pansy pressed on, needing a more blatant reaction than that to try and figure this out. "Maybe he'll even come back with more sense and ditch you and the Weasel, as he should have long ago."

Hermione's brown eyes widened and she burst into tears. Pansy stared after her, fighting not to show her surprise. Now that was a reaction, and one totally unexpected. Snape entered the room. His head turned to follow the sobbing sixth year as she rushed passed him. The Professor quickly turned back to the class, a sneer twisting his lips.

"Ten points from Gryffindor. Now open your books."

Hermione and Ron left dinner early and made their way to the infirmary with Neville and Ginny. The four were careful to make sure no one was following them and hurried into Pomfrey's office. The nurse tapped her books without a word and let them in. She warned them that though Harry was better there were still a few bruises and deeply asleep. The friends didn't care and quickly made their way to Harry's bedside. Neville and Ginny stared as Ron and Hermione went to opposite sides of the bed and took up Harry's too-warm hands into their own.

"Will he be okay?" Ginny asked with a small voice.

"They don't know." Ron shook his head. "Snape's suppose to find out what happened exactly, and then they're going to try and give him therapy or something."

"I just can't understand how this happened." Neville fretted.

"Me either." Hermione agreed. "I did a bit of studying in the library. There isn't much there for mental and emotional healing. But I did find a good book about mental evaluation spells. Maybe they will help Snape figure out how best to help him."

"What do you think the Dursley's did?" Ginny asked, holding Neville's hand tightly.

"Beat him up real bad." Ron answered reluctantly. "Don't know what else besides insulting him and making him think he's a worthless freak."

"He can't believe that!" Neville gasped in horror.

"You of all people should understand how he could." Hermione said gently and Neville blushed, tears welling in his eyes.

"What can we do?" Ginny begged. "I want to help."

"Well, you can help me look through the library for anything that might relate to psychology." Hermione offered.

The others nodded quickly and then they settled in to tell Harry about their day. They knew he couldn't hear them, but they hoped he could feel their concern and support. And it helped them to be with him. They didn't get to stay long however before Pomfrey shooed them out of the room and back to their dorms for the night. Before they left, Hermione asked her to speak to Snape about contacting them soon. Pomfrey agreed. She knew how hard this was for them for she felt the same.

The Slytherins sat in the sixth year boy's dorm. Draco had kicked out Theodore Nott (a happy Death Eater to be), promising him they'd be fast. Then he put up the strongest privacy spells he knew. The others added their own, layering their protections. When they were finished, Pansy spun around with her hands on her hips.

"Alright, Draco. What's going on?"

"As you know, I am Lord Malfoy. But I'm not taking over for my father in everything. I deny Voldemort and I'm supporting the Light side in the war." Draco said bluntly. The room descended into silence. When he was sure they weren't going to interrupt, he continued in the same strong, level voice. "We're no longer kids playing games. I can't afford to ignore the consequences of my actions any more. With my father gone, I was forced to see what exactly those consequences were."

And he told them what happened to him, what he had seen with his own eyes, in concise sentences. He didn't tell them what he had felt, didn't tell them how hard it had been on him. Or how hard it was to decide even with everything he had been shown. But he was talking to Slytherins. The people he considered friends. He didn't need to speak of those things. They could see it in his stance, his eyes. He told them that he had come to believe there had to be a better way without being enslaved by either side, and that he was determined to create that middle ground if it didn't already exist.

"Obliviate me." Blaise spoke up when Draco fell silent expectantly.

"What?" Pansy asked startled.

"I will take the mark, and I will be loyal because I must." Blaise answered quietly. "I can't help you. Don't let me in on anything."

"Why?" Greg demanded.

"Devon." Blaise answered simply and the others understood. Devon was Blaise's older brother. Blaise would stick by his side, and that meant becoming a Death Eater.

"Alright." Draco said sadly and raised his wand.

"Good luck." Blaise said sincerely. There was a flash of light and Draco's spell hit him hard in the head.

"What did you see?" Poppy asked tentatively as she sat next to Severus.

They were both at Harry's bedside in padded chairs. The Potions Master looked decidedly gray. She had made him tea and it seemed to help, but only a little. Severus sighed into the tea and leaned his head back. He could feel the sun beginning to rise. He'd have to leave soon. He should have tried to get some sleep, no matter if he knew he wouldn't be able too.

"Severus?" Poppy placed a hand on his arm.

"I didn't get a chance to see what happened this summer, but the four before that he lived locked in a room. There were bars on the window and a single bed with one sheet. Food was pushed in through a flap in the door. They would have put him back in the cupboard under the stairs where he lived before Hogwarts, but they were afraid of wizards coming to punish them.

"Harry was let out to use the bathroom, but sometimes they forgot. Sometimes they forgot to feed him. Sometimes they didn't feed him on purpose. He gave most of his food to his owl even when he was fed. He was treated like an animal. Before he came to Hogwarts, they'd at least let him have free reign of the house all day to do chores, but Hogwarts gave him a bit of spirit back and they didn't like seeing it in his eyes, so they just locked him away. They are terrified of him."

Poppy sat silently for a few minutes as she fought away the sobs rising in her throat. When she was sure she wouldn't cry, she turned to look at her colleague again. "Can you help him?"

Severus looked at the boy in the bed. How broken was he? Could he help Harry through this? Would Harry even accept help at this point? He stood without answering the woman. He handed her the cup of tea and murmured a thank you before slipping from the room and heading toward his dungeons. Poppy understood that he couldn't answer yet and didn't demand one. She let him go. Clutching the cup in her hands, she wept for the boy they had all failed.

Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Neville were sent to the infirmary halfway through their various classes before lunch. Each teacher said Pomfrey had asked for help sorting potions and making sure none had expired, and each teacher found an excuse to pick those four. They acted normal, well as much as they could, but when they ran into each other in the halls, they picked up their pace. Had something happened? Pomfrey quickly assured them that Harry hadn't worsened, but he needed to be awakened and fed, and she thought he might be better off with the four of them with him.

"Hey, Harry." Ron said with a soft grin as Harry blinked and sat up in bed.

"Are you hungry?" Ginny asked as they all sat around his bedside.

Harry looked at whoever spoke to him, but he didn't answer or respond to anything they said. All four went back and fourth trying to get him to say something, or to smile or frown. Anything. But their friend only blinked his empty eyes. No one tried to touch him. Pomfrey came in half an hour later with a lap-tray and food. They set it in Harry's lap, but the teen didn't make a move to eat.

"Take a bite, Harry." Hermione said and Harry did.

Ginny began to cry and Neville held her close. Hermione looked close to doing the same, but didn't. She gently talked Harry through his lunch while Ron sat mute. It took twice as long as normal for Harry to get through the meal, but they were all patient. When he was finished, Pomfrey told him to get up and use the bathroom. Harry did and got back in bed when he was told. She spelled him back to sleep.

"Thank you for coming. It helped."

"Do you really think so?" Ginny asked hopefully.

"Yes." Pomfrey assured her with a smile. "Now back to classes. You can't be late. And pluck up. Harry will be fine again soon. We just have to give him time to pull himself together."

"You're right." Neville smiled at her.

"This is Harry." Ron agreed, laughing weakly.

Harry was washing the kitchen. It was the first time he had been let out of his room and as soon as he was done, they would put him right back. His movements were slow and rhythmic, and heavy sadness hung around him, his body language one of acceptance of misery. He was desolate.

He looked awful. The clothes he wore were more ragged than the cloth he used to scrub the floor. He was pale and too thin, anorexic. Heavy circles lay under his eyes. He looked like a Dementor victim. A calendar on the wall showed it was only two and a half weeks since school had let out.

Tromping feet came toward the teen, but Harry didn't hear it. A fat man in a suit filled the doorway. His small beady eyes were filled with hate. He began yelling, berating the teen for moving so slow. Insults laced the hateful words heavily. Harry bit his lip, apologizing meekly. The man's face went from red to purple and he stepped forward. His meaty fist crashed into the teen's bowed head, flinging him back against the counter. Harry collapsed to the floor, his eyes now raised as he stared up at his uncle, tears filling the surprised emerald depths.

Vernon stood frozen. Fear in his tense stance. It was obvious he expected some kind of retaliation for his act. He expected magic to strike back in defense. It was why they had only abused the boy verbally. Harry's magic had always acted if they crossed the line into physical abuse. But nothing happened and Vernon's fear slowly dissolved. Glee spread across his face in a frightening smile.

Behind the surprise of being struck in Harry's eyes, there was the new ever-present acceptance caused by his godfather's death, and only Severus' trained eye was able to see the gratitude deep behind that. Harry no longer merely thought he deserved pain for his supposed crimes; he had finally fell over the cliff and truly, with all his heart, believed he deserved to be punished. Vernon pounced and spilled vile words as he beat the boy. Only the fact that the fast bastard tired quickly saved Harry from being beaten to death.

A dozen more scenes like this filled Severus' mind. Over and over again, Vernon attacked Harry with fists and feet and words. Severus even watched him use a belt a few times. And Harry's magic never once stirred to life to protect him as it should have. He was punishing himself. At first, Harry took the beatings in silence, but as the days passed he began to whine and then scream.

Each beating dragged on because these memories were fairly recent. It took concentration to fast forward through the hours where nothing was happening, whereas the previous summers, and the memories of before Hogwarts had been short highlights of specific events, moments so emotionally charged they were frozen forever in the walls. It hadn't drained Severus at all to watch them, but this summer's memories were different and even more draining because it was horrifying

It was rare for a wizard's child to be abused in such a manner. To be hit every blue moon and slapped occasionally was common, but continuous violent beatings were impractical. Not only was it provoking a magical attack from their child, but they could traumatize their child. By beating them they would run the risk of making the child fear or suppress their magic because it finally rose up to hurt their parent or guardian in defense.

And wizards prized their children's magic more than anything else. They'd do nothing to threaten that. So wizards resorted to other ways of punishing their children. Through grounding, restrictions, psychological abuse, even bespelling their children, but continuous physical harm was too risky.

But Severus knew how to confront the mindset of one who had been abused in such manner. There were a few wizarding cases where it had happened. And he had read many, many cases of physically abused muggle children. He had used that knowledge to help the beaten and tortured captives of the Death Eaters. If this was all that Harry had suffered, he felt confident there was some hope.

Thankfully, he felt the summer memories coming to an end, but before he could see the last of them, his alarm went off and he was forced to pull away. He had to get some sleep or soon he would be no good to anyone.

"Albus!"

Dumbledore's head jerked up from the paper he was reading spread out across his desk. He hurried to his feet and quickly strode over to the fire. "What is it, Madam Pomfrey?"

"It's Harry! He's awake and responsive."

The Headmaster gestured her back and flooed into her fireplace. Her room was barred and warded. Satisfied no one could see, he went to the book case and tapped the correct sequence with his wand. It slid to the side and revealed Harry.

The teen was sitting up in his bed, dressed in fresh clothes and spooning stew into his mouth unaided. His green eyes came up as the Headmaster entered and Dumbledore felt like crying in relief. They were several shades darker than they had been since he had come back to school, though they were still a bit glassy and pained.

"Hello, Harry. How are you feeling?"

"Fine, Headmaster." Harry answered, but he hunched over his bowl of soup and let his bangs fall around his face so that he didn't have to look the ancient in the eyes.

Pomfrey walked over to the bed and gestured to the bowl, "Are you done, Harry?"

"Yeah, okay." Harry handed the empty bowl to the witch and she took it, leaving the two of them alone.

Dumbledore took a seat in the chair by Harry's bed. The teen didn't look up again. Instead, he stared at his hands. Dumbledore wanted to beg for forgiveness, but didn't think that was what was needed here. He should have called Severus, taken the man out of his class and sent him up. He shouldn't have come. What if he made it worse? But there were things that had to be said. By him. To Harry.

"Harry. I am getting old. I am not omniscient. I've made mistakes. And I've made one with you. A grave mistake, one I will try very hard to correct."

Harry lifted his head a bit to look through his bangs curiously at the Headmaster, and Dumbledore smiled. He reached for Harry's hand, but pulled back with the teen jerked away from the reaching hand.

"Sorry, Harry. I won't touch you and you have every right to feel the way you do. Every right. I'm sorry I didn't listen to you. I was arrogant, believing I knew better than you because I'm older and seen more. But I was wrong, Harry. Do you hear me?"

"Yes." Harry said hesitantly, unsure.

"What am I saying?" Dumbledore asked encouragingly.

"That you were wrong?" Harry frowned, he looked almost afraid to give a wrong answer and Dumbledore wanted to throw himself at this child's feet.

"Exactly, Harry." Dumbledore smiled, tears filling his eyes. "Do you believe me?"

"About being wrong?" Harry was trembling now.

"Yes. Do you believe I could be wrong?"

Harry didn't answer. His head was up now, and his eyes were wide and full of fear. Dumbledore waited patiently, sitting still. Slowly, the tension fell from Harry's tense shoulders and from his face. He looked tired, his pale face drawn and his eyes heavy. Dumbledore watched Harry's eyes go unfocused as he thought over what had been said. His long fingered hands twisting the sheets in his lap.

"Yes. I think you can be wrong," Harry offered softly, eyes darting to Dumbledore's, expecting a blow. He quickly added, "But not very often."

"Often enough." Dumbledore chuckled. "Listen to me, Harry. Are you listening?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good." Dumbledore took a deep breath. "There is one thing I know without a doubt that I was wrong about; Pomfrey knows it too and so does Hermione and Ron and Professor Snape. And it's about you."

Harry's breath quickened and he looked like Dumbledore was about to condemn him to Azkaban. Dumbledore hesitated to continue, but he had gone too far to stop now. So he gentled his voice and lowered his head so that he wouldn't threaten Harry with eye contact.

"Harry. I was wrong to leave you at the Dursley's. I should have listened to you. You were right to ask not to go back. I was wrong. I love you and I hurt you, and that is very, very wrong. You don't hurt the ones you love. Hermione and Ron love you too, and they want you to get better. They want to help you. They're very mad at me for leaving you there. I'm mad at me.

"Do you understand? What happened to you was wrong. It shouldn't have happened. You should have been protected and cared for by we who love you, and we let you down. But we're going to try very hard not to let you down again. Is that okay, Harry? Will you let us do that for you?" Dumbledore looked up, and his heart leapt into his throat and his tears finally fell.

Harry sat, silently crying into his hands. His shoulders shook and tears slid through his palms, but Harry didn't make a single sound. It was the most heart wrenching sight, Dumbledore had ever witnessed. He wanted more than anything to put his arms around the boy, but knew it was unwelcome. On the other hand, he couldn't leave. He had just said they'd be there for him from now on. He couldn't back that up with leaving Harry to cry all alone. So Dumbledore sat back in the chair and silently offered his company and what little comfort, if any, he could offer the broken boy in the bed.

Harry cried for a little more than an hour. When he stopped, he lay down, curled into a ball, and went to sleep without saying a word. Dumbledore didn't leave until he was sure Harry was deeply asleep. He stood and kissed Harry's messy head of inky black hair before he left the boy to rest. Pomfrey was not in her office. She was tending to a first year in the infirmary that looked like they had skinned their knee falling down stairs. Dumbledore cast an invisible charm and left without either seeing him.

Almost three hours later, Ron and Hermione were walking up to the infirmary instead of the Great Hall for lunch. When they opened the door, Pomfrey smiled widely at them. The two Gryffindors looked at her in confusion, but it quickly melted into looks of hope. Pomfrey's smile widened and she nodded. Hermione and Ron shared a look before rushing to her office and the bookcase that hid Harry's room. They waited impatiently before rushing into the room. Harry flinched, eyes flashing with fear, before he blushed and smiled sheepishly.

"Hey guys." He offered softly.

"Harry!" Hermione cried happily and rushed over while Ron shut the door. When she saw the fear come back in her friend's eyes, she wisely stopped at the chair and made no move to touch him. "I'm so glad you're awake! You're missing some great classes."

Ron rolled his eyes behind Hermione's back and Harry smiled. Ron grinned back. "How ya doin, mate?"

"Fine. I was just sick." Harry said quickly. Hermione and Ron knew better than to argue. "So what are you learning? Nothing too fun I hope?"

"Nah." Ron assured him. "Mostly the same old, same old. But there was this one charm that was cool. We just learned it today."

"It was funny." Hermione agreed. "It plays the person's theme song. It'll only change if something big shifts your personality, but it really does tell you a lot about the person."

"I don't know." Ron grumbled. "It seems a little random."

"You're just embarrassed." Hermione laughed, pushing his shoulder.

"Yeah, and I've never even heard the song before."

"Its muggle, but it really does fit you." Hermione smirked.

"What was it?" Harry asked curiously, tension pouring away from him for the first time since he had woken.

"Don't tell!" Ron pleaded, getting on his knees to beg his girlfriend.

"Oh, he'll hear about it soon enough. Might as well." She laughed and turned to Harry with sparkling eyes. She put her hand to her cheek as if she were telling a secret and spoke in a stage whisper. "It wasPretty Fly for a White Guy."

Harry began to laugh. Hermione grinned, proud and flushed with her accomplishment. Ron grinned up at her, equally thrilled. But when he got to his feet, he mock glared at her.

"Ooooh. This means war! You want to hear her's?" Ron demanded and Harry nodded. "It was this sappy, love song. Don't know who does it or whatever, but it was saying something like," Ron cleared his throat dramatically, hand going to rest on his throat as he sung as high as he could; "In the arms of an angel, far away from here, from this star cold confusion and these endless nights that you fear. You were pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie. In the arms of an angel, may you find some comfort here."

Hermione crossed her arms and tossed her head, nose sticking up in the air; "It was very beautiful. Don't listen to him, Harry. He'd make any song sound torturous with a voice like that."

"Ah, don't crush my dreams, 'Mione!" Ron feigned a heart pain. "You know I've always wanted to be a rock star!"

Harry laughed at them both, feeling the past and the heavy fog of fear and despair in his mind thin. He wasn't sure where he was, but he didn't mind as long as his friends were near by. He wasn't even sure what day it was or how he had gotten there. He couldn't even remember much of the summer, except that it had been very bad. The Gryffindors saw Harry's face fall and quickly tried to distract their friend from whatever had drawn his thoughts away.

"Why don't we try it on you, Harry?" Hermione asked and the boy's green eyes focused on her again.

"I'll be it'll be this awesome rock song or something." Ron glared playfully.

"Whatever." Harry shook his head.

"Seriously." Hermione encouraged. "It'll be so fun!"

"Wanna hear what Malfoy's was?" Ron interrupted slyly.

"What?" Harry asked, biting his lip with a smile. He could already tell it was something hilarious from his friend's face.

"Let me. Now I only heard it once so I might mess it up a bit." Hermione grinned and then she sang. Her voice wasn't perfect, but it was much better than Ron's. "Winter winds have gone and faded… I told the skies of thoughts of gray…... Tears upon my pillow laying, a child lost to pain…... I pray.. for better days… Lift me up, lead me from this place… Let your love be a blessing on my face." Hermione grinned and continued. "I'm rising up. I changed before your eyes. How does darkness –something- in the light?... ... Heaven hope come and change me... Out of ashes make me whole… Lift me up and recreate me.. and help me overcome.. myselfLead me from hell..."

Harry's smile shrank, but he stared enthralled at Hermione. He felt like something important was happening. Like she was telling him something urgent. No. Not Hermione. Malfoy. Like Malfoy was saying something, like he found the secret to the universe and it lay in the song Hermione was singing.

His eyes got wide and his mouth fell open as Hermione sang to him. The words soaked into his head. Ron was making music in the background, and he suddenly sped up. Hermione's words picked up a beat to follow, giving the words more emphasis and they pounded into him like rain.

"I'm rising up. I'm moving on… Give me strength to carry on… I feel the light upon my face…I hear the angel's words of grace… My broken wings were meant to fly… You lift me up and justify… I'm standing up. I'm standing out… I feel the walls come crashing down…"

"It was hilarious." Ron laughed. "You should have seen his face when his theme song was sung by a sweet female voice."

"What do you think?" Hermione asked carefully, not understanding the look on Harry's face.

"Nothing." Harry shook his head hard. "You have a good voice."

Hermione blushed hotly and Ron snickered at her. She slapped his arm and turned back to Harry, "So what do you think? Wanna try it?"

"I don't know." Harry twisted the blanket uncertainly.

"Come on, Har." Ron begged. "It can't be worse than mine!"

"But only if you want." Hermione assured him.

"Okay." Harry gave in as Ron made a puppy-dog face.

Hermione grinned and took out her wand. "Okay, Musica Anima."

The spell hit their friend, but their smiles of expectation melted almost instantly. Harry's eyes rolled back in his head and white light pulsed around him, twined and coiled, growing stronger and brighter every second. Hermione gasped and backed up as Harry lifted from the bed, floating a foot above it. Light burst from his chest, filling the room like a huge spot light, and at the same time music poured from him, loud and powerful. It penetrated the castle and everyone in Hogwarts could hear it.

Almost a thousand people froze as the sound of a piano captured their attention. There was no other instrument, and there didn't need to be any. It was slow and elegant, flowing like water, powerful. Then words were sung by an angel. It was deep and throaty, and yet somehow it soared into the higher ranges at the same time. It twinned with the haunting piano, twisting the hearts of everyone with the deep yearning and beautiful pain that the sweet voice held in its depths.

"I've been looking in the mirror for so long… But I've come to believe my soul's on the other side… All the little pieces falling,.. shattered… Shards of me too sharp to put back together.. Too small to matter, but big enough to cut me into so many little pieces.. if I try to touch him. And I bleed… I bleed… And I breathe… I breathe.. no more..."

The voice trailed off, pulling everyone's hearts with it, and the piano continued to play. Dumbledore looked over the Great Hall and saw first years crying on each other's shoulders. The older students were sitting with their eyes closed as the song carried them away. He felt someone's gaze and looked to the right to find Severus staring at him, his dark eyes holding the answers. Oh, Merlin. Harry's friends must have cast the charm they had learned earlier that morning on Harry.

"Take a breath and I try to draw from that spirit's mouth.. and yet again he refuses to drink like a stubborn child... Lie to me.. Convince me that I've been sick forever. And all of this will make sense when I get better… But I know the difference between myself and my reflection.. I just can't help but to wonder… Which of us do you love?"

The ringing voice hushed once again to let the piano soar; reaching and aching. Draco no longer saw the Great Hall. He couldn't feel the bench under him or hear the hundred others surrounding him. All he was aware of were the words piercing his skin and flowing through him like dark new blood.

Pansy was holding tight to Greg's hand, tears falling blindly down her cheeks. Vince was gripping the table so hard splinters shot under his nails and into his fingers. He couldn't even feel it. Blaise sat clutching his chest, above his heart. Ginny and Neville were clinging to each other, rocking gently back and forth. They knew whose heart they were hearing and it pained them. Oh, their poor beautiful, broken Harry.

"So I bleed… I bleed… And I breathe… I breathe no…Bleed… I bleed… And I breathe… I breathe… I breathe… I breathe… no more..."

Chapter end

A/N: The theme song incantation is Latin for soul music, or really music soul: musica anima.

Also I need you're help. Tell me what you think Voldemort would be doing at this time. I want Harry to get some visions soon (not many, but enough) of his actions. Tell me what he would be seeing. Please.

And last: Dumbledore's motivations are selfish as will slowly become clearer. No worries on that front. I just want to make him sound nice so when his true colors are revealed my readers will feel as pissed at his duplicity as I do with his behavior in Rowling's first five books.