Disclaimer: I claim no rights to Harry Potter.
Chapter Five – Missing But Not Forgotten
Harry wouldn't pretend that he was the golden child of Runes. He had a vindictive streak a mile wide when he felt the need for it, but being raised by a judge, and not just any judge, but the High Judge for the International Confederation of Wizards, did instill some principles into him. It also gave him a healthy respect for authority, which was why Harry was standing outside Professor Severus Snape's office in the Hogwarts Dungeons, instead of heading to breakfast with the rest of his peers.
The day before, Harry and Shane had tracked down their provost and explained what had happened and how they'd come to have detention assigned to them for that night. Diana had been a bit annoyed by their mistake, but took it as such, a harmless mistake. She'd told them not to worry about going to the detention, and that she would take care of it, but warned the two to watch what they said in the future.
The two of them had agreed, but Harry hadn't been settled by just letting his aunt smooth things over. Harry wanted to formally apologize. Shane wasn't so convinced that was a good idea when Harry had brought it up earlier that morning. He thought the whole apologizing bit was good just not the one on one, part of it. He'd suggested writing a letter. Shane did tell Harry good luck though, and then proceeded to hum a dirge as Harry left the room, glaring at him all the way. And so now, Harry was standing outside the dour man's office, alone, even though they'd been told to travel in pairs, and was trying to convince himself to raise his hand and knock on the door.
Harry finally raised his fist and then a silky, slightly menacing voice spoke up behind him. "You could knock, but it will not do you any good, no one will answer," it said slowly.
Harry turned, lowering his hand. "Hello Professor, how long have you been there?" he asked steadily, though he found himself rather unnerved that he hadn't heard the man approach.
"Long enough," Professor Snape said in an almost weary sort of way. Harry couldn't help looking over the man curiously. He was dressed as he was the last Harry had seen him, but he almost looked tense, stressed with the way he was holding himself. "What is it I can do for you, Mister Authland?" Snape asked pointedly and Harry mentally shook himself.
"I came to apologize, on behalf of Shane and I. Our behavior toward you was not in good conduct," Harry said honestly.
Snape raised an eyebrow before brushing past Harry to open his office door. Harry quite honestly expected the man to just close the door in his face, so was a bit surprised when Snape, after a moment, waved him in. Harry followed. He looked around the dim office briefly and then nearly jumped when the door behind him clicked closed. Harry glanced back at it uncertainly.
"And did Provost Hunter request that you come here to make amends?" Snape asked tersely with his back still to Harry.
Harry frowned as he turned back to the man and then shook his head, even though the professor wasn't looking at him. "No Sir, she doesn't know I'm here."
Snape stopped at his desk and then turned back to look at Harry with a contemplative, almost calculating look in his black eyes. "Is that so?"
Harry nodded. "Yes Sir. I wanted to explain the reason for our behavior yesterday."
Snape crossed his arms over his chest, and leaned back against his desk. It would have looked like a casual gesture, but even with the layers of fabric, Harry could tell that the man's muscles were taut, as if he was ready to spring into battle at any moment. It made Harry feel edgy. "Very well, Mister Authland, do explain," he said in a tone that suggested that it better be a good explanation.
Harry walked forward a few more paces so that he wasn't halfway across the room from the man. He leaned unconsciously on his cane as he thought a bit about how to form his words. "Provost Hunter is my aunt and Master Kane has been something of my mentor since I started at Runes. I suppose because of that I have developed a close working relationship with most of my school's staff. I know them very well and they me. Master Kane is one of the strictest men I know, has to be to keep us, the duelists in line, but for those few of us that really know him; we understand that his sternness is usually masking some sort of amusement. Shane and I, we mistook your seriousness as a joke and we're sorry about that. We never would have laughed had we thought otherwise."
"You could not have explained all of that in detention?" Snape asked when Harry was finished.
Harry frowned again. "It was a simple mistake, a misunderstanding. I was raised to believe that misunderstandings should be forgiven, not punished. I guess we didn't think that we deserved detention."
Snape moved away from his desk almost gracefully and approached Harry. "It has been in my experience, Mister Authland that a simple mistake can lead to disastrous consequences."
Harry forced himself not to fidget under the man's intense gaze. The professor was right, mistakes could have consequences. Harry was standing there with a cane because of one such mistake. "They can," Harry agreed softly, not looking at the man. "But this one didn't," he added firmly looking back up. "However if you still feel that we deserve to be punished for our mistake, then I will serve your detention, but don't punish Shane. He wouldn't have laughed, if I hadn't."
Snape continued to stare at him. Whether or not he was considering Harry's words, Harry couldn't tell, but finally he spoke. "I suppose since you did come to apologize under your own volition, I can forgo punishing you. However, I would advise for the future, that you not assume anything of anyone here. Some will take more offense to it than I."
Harry nodded. "Thank you. I will keep that in mind, Sir."
"See that you do, Mister Authland. Now if you would excuse me, I have an Advanced Potions class to get ready for and I'm sure that your peers will be wondering where you are," Snape said briskly, moving back to his desk.
"Potions?" Harry couldn't help ask interestedly.
Snape looked back at him with slightly narrowed eyes. He nodded stiffly. "Yes, Potions. I am the Potions Professor, so it would stand to reason that I would teach it."
Harry couldn't tell if the man was jesting with him, but decided not to assume anything as the professor had just suggested. "I don't suppose that you would allow me to sit in on your classes from time to time? Only Potions is one of my favorite subjects and while the provost is competent enough to teach it to us while we're here, it is my exam year, and I doubt she'll be going over anything too complicated over the next two months."
Snape actually looked surprised at the question, but then his expression seemed to settle into neutrality. Harry would really love to know how he controlled his emotions so well, but bit his tongue to keep from asking. "I suppose if you really wish to, you can sit in on some of my seventh year Potion classes. If your provost has no issue with it that is. Though I should tell you, you may find my classes very challenging."
"I thrive on challenges. It's probably why I'm a dueler and I love Potions so much," Harry said honestly, smiling slightly.
"I expect only the best from my students, and no fooling around in my classroom. It's my strictest rule, too many accidents can happen," Snape said seriously.
Harry didn't know if the man was trying to put him off or not, but he nodded. "I understand, Sir."
Snape nodded slowly, and then went to his desk. He wrote something down on a piece of parchment with an old looking quill and then handed the paper out to Harry. "These are the times for my Advanced Potion classes. You may choose which to attend," he explained. Harry moved forward and then took the paper. Snape eyed Harry's scarred right hand with a frown. "May I ask how you were injured?" he asked softly, but also a bit abruptly.
Harry looked at his hand briefly before looking back at the professor while pocketing the timetable in his bag he had slung around his shoulders. He normally didn't like to talk about his injuries, but for some reason he didn't mind telling the man. "Last year our winter dueling tournament was held host by the Rocky Mountain School of Magic. We've always had a strong rivalry with them, probably because we're both on the same coast, but it had always been a friendly rivalry as most of us know each other.
"With the stronger duelers I like to tease them, mouth off to them during our duels. It usually tends to frustrate them, fluster them enough to make a mistake, drop their guard. I usually don't say anything too harsh, mostly jokes, confusing sentences…" Harry shook his head. "I guess this time I must have got carried away. I was frustrated about something. I've never said anything offending before. I honestly don't remember the duel much at all, or what I said…
"After I was awarded champion, I was on my way back to our rooms alone when they cornered me. They demanded a duel, a real duel; no holds. I tried to walk away. I didn't have my wand on me and wouldn't have participated in an unauthorized duel regardless, but there were five of them. I like to think I held my own for a little while. I certainly dodged enough of their spells, but after I went down, they didn't stop. I guess they thought that if they injured me permanently then they'd never have to duel me in competition again. Lucky for me, not so much for them, Master Kane and their principle found us. The five of them were expelled and incarcerated and I was in the hospital for the next three months. I'm told I nearly died, though I don't remember. I haven't dueled in competition since then and likely won't be able to for the rest of my school carrier."
Snape seemed to consider his words for a moment before he walked over to a cabinet set in one of the walls. He pulled down a small black jar and then turned back to Harry. "I don't know what your healers prescribed you for your scars, but I've developed a salve that heals scar tissue. It works better than the surface salves that are normally prescribed. It doesn't work quickly, but it should alleviate some of the pain and eventually allow for better motor function." He handed Harry the jar. "Rub a small amount into the more problematic areas every night before bed, if you need more, do not hesitate to ask."
Harry held the cool jar in his hand delicately. "Thank you, Professor Snape," he said sincerely.
"You are welcome, Mister Authland. You should get back, and I still have a class to prepare," Snape said pointedly.
Harry nodded and left the room thoughtfully. His opinion of the intimidating man had been changed significantly this morning. He still seemed rather severe, almost unemotional, but Harry found himself wanting to get to know the man better. He looked forward to attending the professor's classes.
When Harry finally got to the Great Hall, after having taken two wrong turns, he found that most of the students were finishing up their meals and leaving. Harry made his way over to the table they shared with Beauxbatons and Durmstrang and then almost hesitated to sit at the looks he was receiving from all of the Defenders. The thirteen of them were the only Runes students left in the hall; presumably, the others had already eaten and gone. The Defenders were probably waiting on him, since they all ate together as was their tradition at meals. In the middle of their group, on the table, a Wizarding newspaper lay open.
"Hey guys, what's going on?" he asked, finally sitting beside his sister, who was looking a little pale.
"There was an attack in London last night. Twenty-seven Muggles were killed. Dark Wizards," Shane explained, and pushed the paper towards Harry.
Harry frowned, pulling it the rest the way towards him He quickly read through the article. "Who's this Dark Lord?" he asked no one in particular.
"Who is the Dark Lord?" a strongly accented voice asked incredulously from down the table. "You must be joking." The Defenders all turned towards the Durmstrang girl, all looking at her blankly. "You truly do not know?"
"Clearly," Annette said. "Would you care to fill us in?"
"His story is in all the history books and recently the newspapers… Ve do not say his name. It is taboo. He has cursed it," another Durmstrang student across the table said. He shook his head. "You have truly never heard of him?"
"Well if its recent history, then we don't study it in history of magic," Emily said with a shrug. "And we don't get much current news from over here either."
"Ze Dark Lord was a charismatic English Wizard who had a strong following twenty years ago," a Beauxbatons boy at the other end of the table explained as he stood, clearly finished with his meal. He was the last Beauxbatons student still sitting at the table. "He campaigned for Pureblood supremacy, terrorized and killed those he did not see fitting into his ideal world," he said bluntly and then left. The Defenders looked after him and then back at the Durmstrang students.
"He killed mostly Muggles and Muggleborns. Some Half-bloods who refused to follow him as vell. But sixteen years ago, he vas stopped. Until two years ago everyone thought he vas dead, and then he and his followers started to attack people again," the Durmstrang girl finished lightly.
"Who stopped him?" Harry asked.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," a girl said from over Harry's shoulder. Harry and the others on his side of the table turned to look up at her. She was dressed in Hogwarts robes with red and gold embellishments, Gryffindor House, as Harry had come to learn during their tour. She was the Head Girl, one of the two who had shown them around Hogwarts, Hermione Granger, if he remember correctly. "Provost Hunter… oh, are you talking about the attack? Terrible what's happened."
"They do not know who the Dark Lord is," the Durmstrang girl pointed out.
"Oh," she said in surprise, looking around at the thirteen. "But of course, you likely don't receive our news regularly do you?" The lot shook their heads.
"Ve vere filling them in, as they say," the girl said helpfully. "But maybe you know more, this Dark Lord is from England." She stood and the few remaining Durmstrang students stood with her. "Ve have class," she said and then nodded respectfully at the Runes students and then they left.
"Maybe," Hermione said uncertainly when all thirteen turned their eyes on her. "Well, where did they leave off?" she asked almost determinedly, taking a seat at the table.
"They were just about to tell us who stopped him," Cargan Lockwood said. "You know, sixteen years ago."
Hermione frowned. "The Boy-Who-Lived did," she said lightly and then elaborated when they just continued to stare at her. "No one is certain how. We just know that You-Know-Who – the Dark Lord attacked his family on Halloween night in 1981 when their Secret Keeper Peter Pettigrew revealed their location to him. You-Know-Who killed his parents first and then cast the Killing Curse at him. But it rebounded instead of killing him and You-Know-Who disappeared until two years ago. That's why we call him the Boy-Who-Lived."
"What happened to the boy?" Celesta asked.
"No one knows for sure. He disappeared. Some say that You-Know-Who took him, killed him out of revenge, but there was no evidence of it. People still look for him, they think of him as a sort of hero. There's always someone who knows something, but it's been a really long time and I don't think anyone will ever find him. A lot of people still hope he comes back someday though," Hermione explained almost sadly. "He'd have been seventeen this year, in my class, had he come to Hogwarts."
"So what was his name, or is that taboo too?" Harry asked.
"Oh, no, it's not. We're not positive that You-Know-Who's is either, but people were killed for saying it in the past so we tend not to say it now, just in case. But the Boy-Who-Lived's name was Harry Potter," she said and all of the Defenders turned quickly to look at Harry with wide eyes.
Harry felt the blood drain out of his face as he too registered what she'd just said. He stood from his seat so quickly that he ended up stumbling into the empty table behind him, and then disregarding the pain in his legs, he ran out of the room, leaving his cane and bag behind in his haste to be anywhere else, but there.
Harry wasn't quite sure how he'd ended up where he was. He'd intended on just returning to his dorm room, but had taken a wrong turn somewhere in his haste, getting himself completely lost, and he supposed that at that point he just didn't care. How his legs had held out long enough to get him here was a miracle. Of course, that was why he was still there, sitting with his back to the low stonewall and staring up at the soon to be afternoon sky that was promising rain in the very near future.
He was in too much pain and his legs were shaking too much for him to even contemplate being on them, not that he really wanted to go back though. Going back meant that he'd likely have to talk about what Hermione Granger had told them. He didn't even want to think about it. If it was true, if he was this boy…
Harry shook his head. He didn't know what to feel if he really was this Boy-Who-Lived, as they'd titled him. Never mind the fact that his father had apparently kidnapped a national hero, his biological parents had been murdered by someone who's name no one even dared to say because it was cursed. And then there was the fact that he'd survived getting hit with the Killing Curse when he was one, how was that even possible?
"Harry! Harry, are you here?" Celesta suddenly called, stepping into the tower room.
Harry was hidden from view where he was sat, and for a split second, he debated not answering. "Yeah, I'm over here," he said with a sigh, but didn't bother trying to push himself to his feet.
Celesta rounded the corner carrying his cane and book bag. She took one look at him and then plopped down next him and pulled his slightly shaking form into her arms, just as she used to do when they were little. "Oh, Har," she whispered into his hair. "It's going to be all right."
Harry clung to his sister's robes, burying his face in her shoulder. They used to sit like this for hours sometimes when they were little, and Harry still thought that his Muggle aunt and uncle where going to come and take him away. It'd been years, but it still had the same calming effect on Harry as it did then. "It's not," Harry disagreed. "How can it be?"
"No one will know. The Defenders have all agreed not to say anything and we told Granger you were sick," Celesta reassured. "We're only here for a few weeks and then we can go home and forget about it."
Harry shook his head and pulled away from his sister. "My birth parents were fucking murdered! Of all the scenarios I imagined that had happened to them, never once did I consider murder. And their killer is still out there. How can I just forget about that?" his voice raised slightly at the end and Harry closed his eyes tightly to reign in his emotions.
Celesta pulled him back into her arms, holding him tightly. "I don't know," she whispered shakily. "But promise me, you won't do anything stupid."
Harry looked up quickly. "Why would I do something stupid?"
Celesta gave him a halfhearted watery smile. "I know you, Harry, I'm your sister. You may not have considered it yet, but you will." She frowned. "You said it yourself, that man who killed them is still out there. And you've got too much of a conscience to let that stand."
Celesta was right, he hadn't considered it. But now that he was starting to think about it, he wanted nothing more than to hunt the bastard down, but not to bring him to justice as Celesta so obviously thought, no Harry wanted revenge. But he was also smart enough, cautious enough not to follow through with his impulses. His father had always taught him to think through his actions before doing them, to not allow his emotions to impair his judgment. And going out and hunting down his parent's murderer was just a stupid idea. Besides, he wasn't yet ready for a duel of that proportion.
"I'm not an idiot, Cel. I don't even know how powerful this Dark Lord is… Do you really think his name is cursed?" Harry couldn't help but ask.
Celesta shrugged. "Granger doesn't seem to think so, but I got the impression that people are too scared to find out." She looked contemplative for a moment. "Maybe they just don't know it. I mean if no one says it, how do they know what it is?"
"Maybe it's written down somewhere. They did say the Dark Lord was in their history books," Harry said thoughtfully.
"I don't know, it wasn't even in the newspaper article," Celesta said.
"Maybe we can look it up…" Harry suggested, trailing off when Celesta gave him a worried look. "Look I'm not going to do anything stupid," he assured. "But I just… I need to know his name and I need to know why. Why did he attack my family, why did he try to kill me? How…"
"How did you survive a Killing Curse?" Celesta finished uneasily.
Harry nodded. "Yeah."
"We'll figure it out, Har," Celesta said firmly and then stood. "But right now, we're supposed to be at dueling practice."
Harry looked up at his sister sheepishly. "Only one problem, Cel. I can't get up."
Celesta shook her head. "Have you tried?" she asked in amusement.
"I knew I was forgetting something," he said and then with difficulty pulled himself to his feel using the wall. He didn't let the pain he was feeling show on his face as Celesta handed him his cane. Though his sister did give him a worried look. She always could read him like a book; it was what made them such good duelists. They had to work very hard to pay attention to each other's movements and expressions when competing against each other. They'd honed that ability so well, that it was almost easy going against others.
AN: To be continued…