Harry opened his eyes slowly, his head still aching and felt hands underneath his head. He sat up quickly, looking around until his vision cleared and he saw Remus Lupin kneeling next to him, a concerned look creasing his features.
“Harry, are you alright? What happened?”
Harry continued looking around until he registered where they were; Hogsmeade station.
“How did you find me?”, he asked Lupin, ignoring his question. “I had the cloak over me”.
“Ron and Hermione told me”, Lupin replied dismissively. “I knew you must be on the train somewhere, so I just felt around until I found you. What happened, Harry?”
Harry rubbed his forehead - his scar was still tingling. “I dunno. I was just about to get off when my scar hurt. It was the strongest it’s ever been. And…I heard him. Voldemort. He was speaking to me, and then I got these visions…”
“What visions, Harry?”
“Just…murders. Him and his Death Eaters killing loads of people. I don’t know if any of them happened, because he said that he was letting me know what he’s going to be up to when I’m at school. And at the end I saw Dumbledore being killed. So they cant be real visions, can they? He must’ve just wanted to scare me, right?”
Lupin frowned. “It’s not so much the visions that concern me, Harry. It’s the fact that he was talking directly to you. He’s completely aware of the connection you two have…that’s not good”.
“But he was aware of it last year. He put that image in my mind…the one of Sirius…to lure me to the Ministry. Isn’t it the same thing?”
“But he’s never talked directly to you, Harry. He must have fully realised the bond you have with each other, and he’s taking advantage of it. Imagine if he does this regularly…imagine how it’ll drain you. I’ll have to speak to Dumbledore about this; I fear you may have to start Occlumency again, Harry”.
Harry shook his head. “Not if I have to do it with Snape. I’d rather have the visions than spend any more time with him than is necessary”.
Remus paused for a minute, and then spoke seriously. “Harry, I know you don’t like Snape…and I understand why. He’s never been one of my favourite people, either. But he’s on our side. There are bigger things happening now than a student-teacher dislike. You’re going to have to try and get past this”.
Harry shook his head again vehemently. “Its far more than just a student-teacher dislike, Remus. You must know that. He hates me like he hated my dad, like he hated Sirius. And I hate him. Every chance he gets he taunts me about how arrogant my dad was, how much he hated him, and now…if he does it with Sirius, I wont take it. I really wont”.
Remus sighed, and then nodded. “Okay, I know I wont be able to change your mind. Just think about it. Now,” he said, standing up and extending his hand to Harry to pull him up, “we should get to Hogwarts. I’m sure Ron and Hermione have been wondering what happened”.
Harry paused outside the Great Hall, listening to the buzz of voices, and the clink of cutlery on plates. He knew the feast was in full swing and really didn’t want to walk through the hall halfway through.
"Remus, do I...-"
“Yes, Harry”, Remus interrupted. “You should go in and eat something, it’ll make you feel better. Also, I have to go in to mention this to Dumbledore. Don’t look at me like that, Harry, he’d want to know. Come on, we can walk in together”.
Harry sighed, and pushed open the door, keeping his head down and speed walking over to the Gryffindor table. As fast as he was, the drop in voices was noticeable as people stopped talking to stare at him, some even standing up for a better look.
He slid into the empty seat next to Ron, and muttered hello.
“Mate, where have you been? We tried to wait but they wouldn’t let us, we told Lupin about the cloak and everything -”
“Yeah, he found me”, interjected Harry, reaching across the table and helping himself to some potatoes and sausages.
“I’ll tell you later”, Harry replied, shovelling down forkfuls of food, aware of the other Gryffindors trying to listen in. He turned his head to see Remus leaning over the teacher’s table, deep in conversation with Dumbledore. He hoped Dumbledore would want to discuss it with him himself; Harry was sure Dumbledore would be able to explain the significance of it, and reassure him that none of the visions he had seen had actually happened.
When the feast had finished and they were walking past the teacher’s table, Harry looked at Dumbledore, who nodded and smiled at him, but made no sign that he wanted to talk to him after. Harry felt a flicker of annoyance; did Dumbledore think that because he’d had visions in the past, that Harry might not still want to talk about it, need to talk about it? They traipsed into the common room and sank down onto the seat in front of the fire.
“So, Harry, what happened?”, Hermione whispered. Harry told them, and both of them took the same view as Lupin - Voldemort was obviously all too aware of the connection between them, and was using it to try and intimidate and weaken him.
Annoyingly, Hermione also shared Lupin’s view about restarting Occlumency.
“I have to say Harry, I think he’s right. You must be able to stop V-V-Voldemort putting all these images into your mind, it’s not good for you. It’d send the sanest person round the end, let alone someone who -” she stopped suddenly, closing her mouth and looking down. For a few seconds Harry simply wondered why she’d stopped speaking, and then he realised what she’d been about to say.
“Someone who what, Hermione?” he said loudly, bristling. “Obviously you don’t class me as very sane, but I’m curious now as to how you do see me. What were you going to say? Let alone someone who is mentally unstable, perhaps? A bit loopy?”
Harry knew he was irrationally angry, but he couldn’t seem to stop the words tumbling out of his mouth. A few heads had turned their way and were listening interestedly. Hermione blushed but looked back up at Harry.
“Don’t be silly, you know I didn’t mean that. I just meant…that…you know..”
“Obviously I don’t know, Hermione”.
“You’re being silly, Harry! I just meant that it would be harder on someone who’s been through a lot…”
“Then why didn’t you say that? I don’t think it’s the fact that I’ve ‘been through a lot’, as you put it, it’s the fact that you don’t think I’m coping with it, isn’t it? Isn’t it?” he snapped when she didn’t respond.
“Harry, stop being an idiot, you know she didn’t mean anything” said Ron, although he was looking rather nervous as he said it. Harry saw the look and felt slightly bad, knowing Ron was worried that he was going to flip out at him too. Still, it would make anyone angry if their supposed best friend thought they weren’t exactly sane. Harry had had enough of people thinking he was crazy last year - he wasn’t anxious for his friends to start thinking the same.
“I’m going to bed” he said shortly. “I’ll see you both in the morning”.
Harry woke up the next day feeling bad about his outburst, and again frustrated at how easily his temper seemed to surface these days. He apologised gruffly to Hermione over breakfast, and she dismissed it as nothing.
“Don’t worry about it Harry. It would’ve annoyed me too. But you know I didn’t mean it like that, though”.
“Yeah, I know”.
It was still with a heavy heart that Harry ate his breakfast, however. It had nothing to do with Hermione, and everything to do with the fact that every time he looked up from his plate someone else was staring at him.
“Just ignore it, mate. They’ll get over it” Ron said, seeing Harry’s face.
“Why are they so interested though? All these people looking…they’re the same people who’ve been to school with me for the last five years. You’d think they’d have seen me enough by now” he muttered, bending his head again over his food.
“Yes, but its different now Harry”, said Hermione patiently. “Everyone knows you were right about V-V-Voldemort, everyone knows about you fighting him at the ministry, they know there’s something going on with you and him…”
“They know you’re the Chosen One too”, Ron said through a mouthful of toast.
“Ron! Shush!” Hermione hissed. “They think you’re the Chosen One…of course you’re going to be interesting to them”.
“Yeah, well…it better not be like this all year.”
“Oh, Harry, we were going to tell you last night, but…erm…we didn’t get round to it”, Hermione said, obviously referring to Harry’s outburst. “But...um…Snape’s got the Defence Against the Dark Arts job” she finished quickly.
“What??” Harry exploded. “What’s Dumbledore playing at? Who’s teaching Potions then? I cant believe he’s given it to that greasy git…why? Why would he do that?”
“That’s exactly what I said, Harry” Ron nodded. “Although Hermione disagrees, of course”.
“Well, I just think that Dumbledore wouldn’t have given it to Snape unless he trusted him completely. I cant imagine that he could be so wrong about someone…I think if Dumbledore trusts Snape then so should we”, she said firmly.
Harry snorted. “I’ll never trust him. Never. He’s a slimy, foul, pathetic scumbag. I bet he just wants the position so he can try and woo people over to the Dark Arts”.
“Nah, even Snape wouldn’t be that stupid,” Ron said, shaking his head. “Not right under Dumbledore’s nose, he wouldn’t. But I agree with you Harry, I don’t trust him either”.
“Well, we haven’t got Defence for a couple of days, so we don’t have to worry about it until then”, said Hermione, consulting her timetable. “Come on, hurry up with your breakfast or we’ll be late for Charms.”
The first two days were relatively uneventful; Harry was relieved that the level of work hadn’t been a huge step up from their O.W.Ls, and was also grateful for the free periods they had scattered throughout the day, which Hermione spent doing homework or doing extra reading, and Ron and he spent playing wizard chess or just lounging in their chairs, talking and watching Hermione work. The only thing that really got him down, of course, was that the level of interest in him had not abated. People stared at him openly, and whispers accompanied him wherever he went. Some people went one step further, and actually went up to him and asked him directly whatever they were wondering. On the second day, a fifth year girl came right up to Harry, and asked him straight out if the was the Chosen One. Harry blinked at her, too surprised to speak.
“I read it in the Prophet”, she said, by way of explanation. “They’ve been saying that all summer”.
“Yeah, well don’t believe everything you read in the Prophet” Harry said darkly, walking away. He hoped no-one else would ask him outright whether he was the Chosen One - he wasn’t going to say he was, of course, but would feel uneasy if he had to deny it completely.
Harry felt strangely exhausted as he climbed into his bed that night, taking off his glasses and placing them on the bedside table. He had received a note from Dumbledore that evening, stating that he would be continuing with his training five times a week with Kingsley and Tonks, and Harry knew that if he felt tired now, it would be nothing compared to when training began. He had felt disappointed and annoyed when there had been no mention of Harry meeting Dumbledore any time soon; Harry had thought Dumbledore would want to talk to Harry more now, about the prophecy, his dreams and Voldemort, and Harry felt slightly hurt that apparently Dumbledore didn’t think the vision on the Hogwarts express was worth talking about. It certainly felt important to Harry. Sighing, he said goodnight to Ron, Neville, Seamus and Dean and pushed his head deep into the pillow, trying to push all unwelcome thoughts from his head; he was restarting his training tomorrow ; he’d need a good nights sleep.
He was on his firebolt, gliding over the Quidditch pitch, feeling the wind lift his hair, and he felt alive for the first time in months, strong and rejuvenated. He twisted his body and felt his broom swing left, and he caught sight of another figure hovering on a broom a while away. He felt something drawing him towards it, urging him to fly closer. As the figure came into focus, Harry realised that it was Ginny Weasley, and a strange jolt of happinness kicked into his stomach. Her red hair flickered in the breeze and she smiled gently at him, and he grinned back, almost drowing in the depths of her deep brown eyes. Harry drew closer until he was able to count every freckle that splashed perfectly along the bridge of her nose, closer until he could feel her warm breath on his cheek…he closed his eyes, about to lean in and kiss her, when another jolt hit his stomach. He opened his eyes quickly, and instead of Ginny’s face in front of his there was another; the white face with glowing red eyes, the face with slits for a nose, the face that had come to haunt his every waking moment - the face that he had come to fear above all others. Voldemort smiled, a horrible, mirthless smile.
“Harry…I told you I’d be in touch. Have you missed me? No? How rude. Perhaps you need to be taught some manners…perhaps you need to have your memory jogged…like this, perhaps…”
Voldemort’s voice vanished and again Harry felt unwanted images flash before his eyes. His parents…his father running, shouting, a flash of light, his father tumbling down the stairs and lying still at the bottom…his mother screaming, begging, a flash of light, her tumbling to the floor like a broken doll…Cedric’s puzzled face, a flash of light, Cedric‘s blank grey eyes staring unseeingly at the sky…and then Sirius…Sirius…battling to save Harry’s life, the look of surprise on his face vanishing as he disappeared forever behing the flickering veil…
Harry felt something hard hit him around the face, once, twice, and he jolted into consciousness. But there was no waking from the nightmare…he was in his dormitory, he could see Neville, Dean and Seamus looking terrified. But standing over him was the one person he hated as much as Voldemort…the person he wanted to hurt…to kill…
Bellatrix Lestrange stood over Harry, smiling manically.
“Harry…”, she said in her horrible, mock baby voice. “What’s the matter, Harry?”
“You!” Harry snarled, leaping to his feet and snatching up his wand from his bedside table. He launched himself at her, pining her to the wall and pressing his wand against her neck.
“I’m going to kill you!”, he roared, his eyes half blinded with his hate.
“Harry, no! What are you doing?”
He heard people shouting, felt hands gripping him and pulling him back; he struggled with all his strength but there seemed to be three people holding him. He fell to the ground, hitting his head hard against the bed. White stars exploded in his eyes, and he lay there, dazed for a few moments, before opening his eyes slowly. Seamus, Dean and Neville were all pining him down to the floor, their faces flushed with the effort of holding him down. Neville’s face was anxious; Dean and Seamus looked positively terrified. Harry raised his eyes to where Bellatrix had been, but she was not there. In her place stood Ron, his face red, one hand rubbing his throat. He looked at Harry.
“WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?” he shouted. “You could have killed me!”
Harry blinked. What was going on?
“You probably would’ve killed me if the others hadn’t pulled you off me…what were you playing at?”
“I…you…what?”, Harry said weakly. He shook his head, unable to believe he had attacked Ron. It must have been a dream…but he had woken, and still seen Bellatrix…what was happening?
“You were dreaming, Harry” said Neville, seeing his confusion. “You were shouting in your sleep and woke us up. Ron tried to wake you but you wouldn’t wake, you just kept shouting. Then Seamus slapped you and you seemed to wake, but then you…just jumped at Ron and…” he finished, looking uneasy.
Harry looked up at Ron. “Ron, I’m so sorry. I didn’t…it wasn’t you…I mean, I must have still been dreaming.”
“You could have killed me, Harry!”, Ron said faintly, still rubbing the place on his throat where Harry had pointed his wand.
“I’m sorry,” Harry whispered again, aware of the looks Dean and Seamus were giving each other. Ron noticed too, and that seemed to pull him to his senses.
“Right, show’s over you three. Harry had a nightmare, it’s fine. You can get off him now”.
Neville got up at once, smiling nervously at Harry, and then shuffled over to his bed. Dean and Seamus looked at Harry warily, as if worried he was going to attack them.
“I’m not going to jump on you, you know” he snapped.
They got up slowly and walked to their beds, but then Seamus turned round.
“What if you have another dream, though? What if you attack any one of us? You don’t know what you’d do, you could kill us!”
Harry felt a flicker of annoyance, but he knew Seamus was right.
“Here”, he said firmly, holding out his wand to Seamus. “You keep my wand, give it to me in the morning. I wont be able to much without it, will I?”
Seamus looked at Harry’s wand, and then took it, stowing it under his pillow.
“You better not try and steal it back, though…I’ll know if you do”.
Harry took a deep, calming breath. “I’m not going to steal it back, Seamus. Believe it or not, I don’t particularly want to wake up and see that I tried to attack one of my friends. It doesn’t exactly make me feel good. You can have my wand every night, if it’ll make you feel safer”.
Seamus nodded, and then climbed into bed. Harry looked at Ron, who was hovering next to him, looking rather nervous. Harry opened his mouth to apologise again, but Ron spoke first.
“Don’t worry about it, Harry. I know you were still dreaming. But…er…I think it is good thing that you gave Seamus you wand. You know…just in case”.
Harry nodded glumly.
“Maybe you should speak to Dumbledore about this tomorrow, though. It cant be a good thing…having dreams like that.”
Harry shrugged. “I dunno, he didn’t seem very interested when he heard about what happened on the train. He hasn’t wanted to talk to me about that”.
Ron shrugged too, and clambered into bed. “Well, you should tell Lupin, anyway. Night Harry”.
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