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Changes by Lupins_cub
Chapter 25 : The Feeling
 
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Heather spent most of the next day dreading the evening. Her morning wasn’t too bad, a bit of dark arts, copying the chapters and some Transfiguration. Many DA members asked if it was true that Harry was taking remedial potions and if she would be hosting the meeting tonight. This depressed her more as she had to tell them she wouldn’t because she was taking the extra classes with him.

As it struck six o’clock Heather found herself standing outside Snape’s office. Harry arrived shortly after; they both paused in front of the door. Harry took a deep breath, knocked, and entered. Heather followed him into the shadowy room lined with shelves bearing hundreds of glass jars in which floated slimy bits of animals and plants, suspending in various colored potions. In a corner stood a cupboard full of ingredients. It was then something caught Heather’s eye, it was immediately out of place, Dumbledore’s pensive, the gray mist inside swirling ominously.

“Shut the door behind you, Smith.”

Heather did as she was told with a horrible feeling of walking into a trap. When she turned to follow Harry Snape had moved into the light and was pointing silently at two chairs opposite his desk. Heather sat next to Harry and Snape sat across from them, his cold black eyes fixed unblinking upon them, dislike etched line very line of his face.

“This may not be an ordinary class,” said Snape, his eyes narrowed malevolently, “but I am still your teacher and you will therefore call me ‘sir’ or ‘Professor’ at all times.”

“Yes…sir,” said Harry.

“Yes, Professor,” Heather said.

“Now Occlumency. As, Smith has clarified back in Black’s kitchen, this branch of magic seals the mind against magical intrusion and influence.”

“And why does Professor Dumbledore think I need it, sir?” said Harry, looking directly into Snape’s dark, cold eyes and wondering whether he would answer.

Heather felt like kicking Harry and yelling at him ‘Why do you think?’, but she merely looked up at Snape wondering if he would answer.

“Surely even you could have worked that out by now, Potter? The Dark Lord is highly skilled at Legimency-”

“What’s that? Sir?”
“It is the ability to extract feelings and memories from another person’s mind-”

“He can read minds?” said Harry quickly, his worst fears confirmed.

“You have no subtlety, Potter,” said Snape, his dark eyes glittering. “You do not understand fine distinctions. It is one of the shortcomings that makes you such a lamentable potion-maker.”

Heather understood Legitimacy perfectly, though she had never heard the word, she knew that is what her father was doing to her. He was delving into her mind and playing with her fears and emotions.

“Well the, why do I have to learn Occlumency?”

“The usually rules do not seem to apply with you, Potter. The curse that failed to kill you seems to have forged some kind of connection between you and the Dark Lord. Smith, this goes the same for you, your blood connection to your father bypasses all magic trying to block it.”

“But why does Professor Dumbledore want to stop it?” he asked abruptly. “I don’t like it much, but it’s been useful, hasn’t it? I mean…I saw that snake attack Mr. Weasley and if I hadn’t, Professor Dumbledore wouldn’t have been able to save him, would he? Sir?”

“You see, Potter, that is the difference between you and Smith. The Dark Lord appears to be oblivious to the connection to you. But with Nicholas he is well aware of that and taking advantage of it.” he said.

“Then why did he show me Mr. Weasley getting bitten by Harry?” Heather asked.

“Because that wasn‘t your father, you did that off your own accord.” Snape said, and then fixed his gaze on her. “‘bitten by Harry?’ and ‘I saw that snake attack Mr. Weasley,’ which is the truth now?”

“I saw inside the snakes head, not Voldemort’s!”

“Do no say the Dark Lord’s name!” spat Snape.

There was a nasty silence. They glared at each other across the pensive.

“Professor Dumbledore says his name,” said Harry quietly.

“Dumbledore is an extremely powerful wizard,” Snape muttered. “While he may feel secure enough to say the name…the rest of us…” He rubbed his left forearm, apparently unconsciously, on the spot where Heather knew the Dark Mark was burned in his skin.

Faintly Heather felt the burn there too but didn’t move it felt like it had in her dream with Cedric.

“I just wanted to know,” Harry began again, forcing his voice back to politeness, “why-”

“You seem to have visited the snake’s mind because that was where the Dark Lord was at that particular moment,” snarled Snape. “He was possesing the snake at the time and so you dreamed you were inside it too…”

“And Vol-he-realized I was?”

“It seems so,”

“What about me?” Heather asked, “Did he know-”

“No, he did no. He didn’t realize you were there, but he knows now by your father. Nicholas seems to have searched you and told him of your wanderings.” said Snape.

“How do you know?” said Harry urgently. “Is this just Professor Dumbledore guessing, or-”

“I told you,” said Snape, ridged in his chair, his eyes slits, “to call me ‘sir.’”

“Yes, sir,” said Harry impatiently, “but how do you know-?”

“It is enough that we know,” said Snape repressively. “The important point is that the Dark Lord is now aware that you are gaining access to his thoughts and Heather can trail on after you. Nicholas has also informed that he may be able to work it in reverse; that is to say, he has realized that he might be able to access your thoughts and feelings in return-”

“And he might try and make me do things?” asked Harry. “Sir?” he added hurriedly.

“He might,” said Snape. “Which brings us back to Occlumency.”

Both Heather and Harry got to their feet and took out their wands. Heather felt nervous; she was never attacked before, at least not when she was conscious.

“You may use your wand to attempt to disarm me, or defend yourself in any other way you can think of,” said Snape.

“And what are you going to do?” Harry asked, eyeing Snape’s wand apprehensively.

“I am about to attempt to break into your mind,” said Snape softly. “We are going to see how well you resist. I have been told that you have already aptitude at resisting the Imperius Curse…You will find that similar powers are needed for this...Brace yourself, now…Legilimens!”

Heather jumped back as he hit Harry strait in the chest, within seconds it was over and Harry fell to the ground his knee hitting Snape’s desk. Harry seemed to have attacked Snape, because there was an angry wealt on his wrist, like a scorch mark.

“Did you mean to produce a Stinging Hex?” asked Snape coolly.

‘No,” said Harry bitterly, taking Heather’s helping hand off the floor.

“I thought not,” said Snape, watching him. “You let me in too far. You lost control.”

“Did you see everything I saw?” Harry asked, unsure whether he wanted to hear the answer.

“Flashes of it,” said Snape.

Heather gulped flashes of it, what would he see in her mind? It was then he addressed her: “You next, Smith, let’s see how you fair against Potter, Brace yourself, now…Legilimens!”

The office swam in front of here eyes and vanished, image after image was racing through his mind like a flickering film so vivid it blinded her. But this feeling wasn’t foreign to her, this confused feeling was normal in her dreams and she could stop it easily. It was then she felt Snape, like he was standing behind her peering over her shoulder. He seemed to try and come closer and take her memories in his hands.

No! Heather heard a voice in her head hiss.

Heather felt like she made a motion as to rib Snape in the side and he was gone, but she was launched forward into his mind.

“Brilliant, Snape, this will cause the whole school to be in an uproar!” laughed her father.

“I know,” hissed a younger Snape standing in front of her.

“Nicholas, what are you doing?”

Heather froze, she knew that voice, she had never heard it before but it was so familiar and comforting. She turned to watch her mother walk over to her father and kiss him before looking at the paper on the table.

“Nick you can’t!” she said, “Remus already has his hands full with the new first years, why cause more trouble?”

“Because it’s my middle name,” he grinned.

Heather felt the stone ground beneath her fingers, it was cold and ridged, and Snape’s office had come back into view. She realized she was on the floor like Harry had been, she was panting and felt exhausted. She looked up to see Snape half glaring half gazing at her in awe.

“Smith, has beaten you Potter, she has successfully fought me off and penetrated my mind as well.” Snape said, still looking at Heather.

Heather took Harry’s hand and stood, they continued the lesson and they ended about an hour later. She and Harry departed without a word, both exhausted and having headaches. They were to practice tonight; they were to rid their minds of all emotion every night before going to sleep. Heather went back to the common room; Isaac sat in front of the fire on the floor reading a book. Kira was in a corner in the candle light finishing Umbridge’s most recent ream of homework.

“Hey, how’d it go?” Isaac asked, putting down his book and sitting next to her on the couch.

“I’m better than, Harry,” Heather said and explained her encounter with Snape’s memories.

“Well, that’s good isn’t it?” Kira asked, putting her stuff away and sprawling on an armchair. “Doesn’t that mean you need less training?”

“I don’t know,” Heather yawned, “he’s tough, though, when is he not?”

“What about the DA meetings?” Kira asked.

“I don’t know, I guess that’s up to Isaac and Hermione the coordinators of all of it.”

“We’ll figure out something between the two of us,” Isaac said.

Heather turned in; having finished her homework before she went to Snape’s, heaven knows she could use the sleep. She stared at the blue curtains surrounding her bed and sighed, letting all the worries of the day leave her. She watched as the curtains blurred the room around her faded black and she fell asleep.

The next morning Heather woke with a start, she felt exhausted like she had stayed up all night and ran a marathon. Her head was pounding now; she rubbed her eyes and gave an exasperated groan.

“Heather, you okay?” came Kira’s sleepy voice.

“Just messed up by Snape, I guess,” Heather said through her hands.

Heather got up and went to the showers hoping a long hot one would make her feel better. It took away the headache but she still felt exhausted, unfortunately today would be tough with Dark Arts and double Potions. Her day got worse before it started when she walked downstairs and Kira shoved the daily prophet in her hands.

“Look, read it!” she exclaimed.

Confused, Heather looked down and read:

MASS BREAKOUT FROM AZKABAN
MINISTRY FEARS BLACK IS “RALLYING POINT”
FOR OLD DEATH EATERS

The Ministry of Magic unannounced late last night that
There has been a mass breakout from Azkaban.
Speaking to reporters in his private office, Cor-
nelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, confirmed that ten
high-security prisoners escaped in the early hours of
yesterday evening, and that he has already informed
the Muggle Prime Minister of the dangerous nature
of these individuals.

“We find ourselves, most unfortunately, in the
same position we were two and a half years ago when
the murderer Sirius Black escaped,” said Fudge last
night. “Nor do we think the two breakouts are unre-
lated. An escape of this magnitude suggest outside
help, and we must remember that Black, as the first
person ever to break out of Azkaban, would be ideally
placed to help others follow in his footsteps. We think
it likely that these individuals, who include Black’s
cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange, have rallied around Black
as their leader. We are, however, doing all we can to
round up the criminals and beg the magical commu-
nity to remain alert and cautious. On no account
should any of these individuals be approached.”

Heather’s stomach sank; they were suspecting Sirius and Bellatrix Lestrange, the one who drove Neville’s parents insane had escaped.

“She escaped, Heather,” Kira said tearfully. “We’ve seen what she can do; do you know how scary that is?”

“I know,” Heather said, hugging her. “Worst of all they suspect Sirius, as well.”

They walked down to the Great Hall; Heather looked around to see everything seemed normal. No one seemed to have even read the startling headline in the paper; if they had they were taking it rather well. Kira had continued reading the Prophet over breakfast, Heather was looking up at the teachers table. They seemed to be reacting to the papers head lines, Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall were in deep conversation, both looking extremely grave. Professor Sprout had the Prophet propped against a bottle of ketchup and was reading the front page with such concentration that she was not noticing the gentle drip of egg yolk falling into her lap from her stationary spoon.

“Broderick…” Kira said suddenly, looking up from her paper. “Where have were heard that name?”

Heather shrugged; she had never met a Broderick, “What about him?”

Kira handed the paper to her and Isaac; they leaned in a read the article titled:

TRAGIC DEMISE OF
MINISTRY OF MAGIC WORK

St. Mungo’s Hospital promised a fully inquiry last
night after Ministry of Magic worker Broderick
Bode, 49, was discovered dead in his bed, strangled
by a potted-plant. Healers called to the sense were
unable to revive Mr. Bode, who had been injured in a
workplace accident some weeks prior to his dead.
Healer Miriam Strout, who was in charge or Mr.
Bode’s ward at the time of the incident, has been sus-
pended on full pay and was unavailable for comment
yesterday, but a spokes wizard for the hospital said in
a statement, “St. Mungo’s deeply regrets the death of
Mr. Bode, whose health was improving steadily prior
to this tragic accident.

“We have strict guidelines on the decorations per-
mitted on our wards but it appears that Healer Strout,
busy over the Christmas period, overlooked the
dangers of the plant on Mr. Bode’s bedside table. As
his speech and mobility improved, Healer Strout en-
couraged Mr. Bode to look after the plant himself,
unaware that it was not innocent Flitterbloom, but
a cutting of Devil’s Snare, which, when touched by
the convalescent Mr. Bode, throttled him instantly.

“St. Mungo’s is yet unable to account for the
presence of the plant on the ward and asks any witch
or wizard with information to come forward.”

“Merlin, he was in the ward with Lockhart and the Longbottoms,” Isaac said, “remember that man lying in the bed on the other side of the ward?”

“I do,” Heather said “I don’t think this was simple mistake in the garden either,”

“What do you mean?” Kira asked.

“This was an extremely clever murder,” Isaac said.

“Exactly, the plant was probably sent anonymously, that’s why St. Mungo’s has no answers.” Heather said.

They finished their breakfast and left the Great Hall, Heather vaguely noticed an extremely bruised and beaten Hagrid walking behind them. Heather decided not to ask, after the escaping death eaters and a murder on a hospital, she didn’t want to know what happened to Hagrid just yet. The corridors were now abuzz with conversation of the 10 escaped death eaters. Rumors were flying that some of the convicts had been spotting in Hogsmeade, that they were supposed to be hiding out in the Shrieking Shack and that they were going to break into Hogwarts, just as Sirius Black had done.

Those who came from Wizarding families had grown up hearing the names of theses Death Eaters spoken with almost as much fear as Voldemort’s; the crimes they had committed during the days of Voldemort’s reign of terror were legendary. They were relatives of their victims among the Hogwarts students who now found themselves unwilling objects of gruesome sort of reflected fame as they walked the corridors. Heather knew she probably wasn’t the only one who was subjects to muttering and pointing in the corridors, yet she sensed a slightly different tone in the whisperer’s voices. Also there was another Decree upon, a new signed had appeared just after the news of the Azkaban breakout:

BY ORDER OF
The High Inquisitor of Hogwarts

Teachers are hereby banned from giving students any infor-
mation that is not strictly related to the subjects they are
paid to teach.

The above is in accordance with
Educational Decree Number Twenty-six.

Signed:
Dolores Jane Umbridge
HIGH INQUISITOR

Umbridge seemed to continue her reign over the school, trying harder and harder to put it into her personal control. Every single Divination and Care of Magical Creatures lesson was now conducted in the presence of Umbridge and her clipboard. She lurked by the fire in the heavily perfumed tower room, interrupting Professor Trelawney’s increasingly hysterical talks with difficult questions about Ornithomancy and Heptomology, insisting that she predict student’s answers before they gave them and demanding that she demonstrate her skill at the crystal ball, the tea leaves, and the rune stones in turn. In each class Heather could feel her patience lower and her stress level rise until it almost overwhelmed her.

Hagrid was no better in lessons; Isaac told her that Hermione had been helping him though he still seemed to be struggling. He was oddly distracted and jumpy in lessons, losing the thread of what he was saying while talking to the class, answering questions wrongly and glancing anxiously at Umbridge all the time. Neville, though, had taken a change for the better, ever since he ran into them at the hospital ward. He worked relentlessly on every new jinx and countercurrent Harry and Heather taught them, his plump face screwed up in concentration, apparently indifferent to injuries or accidents, working harder than anyone else in the room.

January seemed to pass in a week’s time, before Heather new it she was waking up on the second week of February. The next Hogsmeade visit was coming, which was a wonderful escape for Heather, Valentines day was coming up as well. She remember vaguely when she was younger dreading the 14th, in those days she was certain she would never see anyone else like herself. Surprisingly though she was a bit worried about today, was Isaac planning a surprise or would it be a normal day as usual?

“Yeah, Neville just said we are doing ‘something’, he won’t tell me.” Kira said happily. “What are you and Isaac doing?”

“I don’t know, he wasn’t downstairs, maybe he’s early for breakfast.” Heather said with a shrug.

But Isaac wasn’t in the Great Hall for breakfast; Heather ate her toast with worry before the post came. Max soared down through the many owls carrying pink packages and letters. She took the note from his mouth and opened it to recognize Isaac’s handing writing.

Follow the signs, but don’t go too far!
Love, Isaac

“Oh that sounds like fun,” Kira said, “well; I’ll leave you to your love hunt, bye,”

“Cheers,” said Heather, putting the note in her pocket and walking out of the Great Hall.

She left for Hogsmeade, hoping to find another sign there; snow was now steadily melting on the ground, sloshing under feet. She soon found herself at the entrance of Hogsmeade, surrounded by excited first years and strolling elder students.

“Note for Heather Sarah Smith!” squeaked a first year girl with three giggly girls around her.

“Thank you,” Heather said, watching them as they walked away before opening the note.

Good! You didn’t go too far, now I want you to do the opposite.

“What?” Heather asked herself.

Heather, thoroughly confused by his notes, decided if he wanted her to go far she would go to the Shrieking Shack. Upon arriving there Heather found a note pinned on the fence, frantically trying to hang on in the wind. Heather ripped it off and opened it up,

You call that far?

“Isaac!” Heather snapped.

“Yes?” Heather turned to see him standing behind her.

“Have you been following me?” she asked,

“Maybe, why?” he asked innocently, she folded her arms and shifted her weight to one foot. “Come, I have a surprise for you!”

He slid down the snowy hill and took her hand leading her into the forest, for a good ten minutes they continued at a jog.

“Almost there!” he said breathlessly before they came into a clearing.

In the middle was a small frozen pond, snow the sprinkling around it even though it wasn’t snowing any where else.

“It melted before today, so I had to freeze it again, I found it just today.” he told her.

“So basically you didn’t know what you were going to do?” Heather asked.
“No,” he said sheepishly running a hand through his hair, before grinning and taking her hand again. “Let’s skate!”

“We haven’t any skates,” Heather said

“Oh contraire,” he said and flicked his wand in front of them.

Heather felt herself rise about two inches along with Isaac and looked down to see blades had grown beneath her shoes. He tugged her out onto the ice; Heather had never skated before and clung to his hands just to keep up right.

“Just walk,” he said, as he skated backwards pulling her towards him.

“I can’t, I really can’t!” Heather gasped after her third fall.

“Just take yourself back to when we were dancing!” he said excitedly, “We moved without hesitation or fright, just trust me, like you did then.”

Heather sighed and nodded, she stood up straight held to his hands and closed her eyes. Before Heather knew it they were gliding across the ice with ease, Isaac leading the way as they twisted and twirled.

“See!” Isaac laughed pulling her close as they spun slowly in a circle. “You can do it,”

“How come you are so nervous yet so smooth?” she asked.

“I have no idea,” he whispered and bent down to kiss her.

By the time they made it back up to Hogsmead it was pouring rain, The Three Broomsticks was crowded and packed with students. It was then Heather spied Hagrid a ways up, she let go of Isaac’s hand and caught up to him.

“Hello, Professor,”

Hagrid started before looking down at Heather with much surprise, Heather nearly jumped herself at seeing him. Hagrid was riddled with horrible injuries upon his face and from what she could see of him.

“Oh, Ms. Smith, ‘ello there,”

“Are you okay, Professor?” Heather asked, Isaac joining her. “You seem a bit out of sorts and you also seem to be injured.”

“Oh, I’m fine, fine,” he said, waving a horrible bruised hand at her. “Just normal bumps and bruises, I thank yeh for yer concern though. Good bye,”

Hagrid walked away from them, back up to the castle, leaving Heather puzzled. Something about Hagrid didn’t feel right, his aura just seemed changed and he looked horribly worried.

“What do you think is wrong?” Isaac asked,

“I don’t know, but I know the feeling, it’s about his family.” Heather said, watching Hagrid disappear into the foggy mist.


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