Chapter 5 : That's NOT Harry!
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The next few days almost all of Harry’s time was spent in the library, but not due to his need for researching his return home. All of his classes had started picking up pace and every teacher seemed to simultaneously decide that they all had to assign papers or tests on the exact same days. Snape especially had felt that the N.E.W.T. Defense class was no where near up to par due to their previous “abysmal” instructors. Thus, he continually loaded on more homework on top of the tests he had declared. Ron was practically cursing Lupin’s name for not having returned yet.
Hermione was in a very frenzied state and she barely left the library. Ron and Harry felt nearly the same, but that was only because of Hermione’s constant nagging and reminding of how they needed to study more.
Since every one of his free moments was spent in the library under the constant surveillance of Hermione (to make sure he was studying correctly), Harry had no choice but to put his search for a way back home on hold. He had tried once at the beginning of the week to ask Hermione about how a time turner worked exactly, but she immediately asked him why he even cared about that when they had so much to do. Harry didn’t bring it up again.
Harry felt that he had been doing a great job of keeping everything secure. Hermione and Ron rarely flashed weird or strange looks at him anymore. He was quite pleased with himself. Everything seemed to be running smoothly. Nice and stable. A slip up now and then, but he always seemed to recover and mask it over. He had stopped staring at Dumbledore and Emily, he had stopped giving Snape murderous looks (at least ones that had no reason behind them), and most importantly he had started to become accustomed to Aaron and Ginny being a couple. Although he still didn’t like it one bit, he had at least learned to control his facial expressions whenever they were around.
He had also grown used to Hermione’s hand wrapped around his as they walked to class and her good morning kiss on the cheek each morning. Luckily he hadn’t yet had to deal with the kiss situation any deeper than that since Hermione had been so busy studying and fretting about her classes.
By the middle of the week, Harry and Ron both were beginning to worry over Hermione’s sanity. Thursday, the day of Defense class and the day when the brunt of their assignments were due, had arrived quicker than expected for Hermione and entirely too slowly for both Harry and Ron who both couldn’t wait for Hermione’s endless speeches on their study habits to be over. Snape had assigned both a test and three feet of parchment about the Patronus charm due for Defense that morning. Harry figured that it would have been easy considering he had been able to do a Patronus charm for so long, but having to include all of its uses and abilities in three feet of parchment was much harder than he thought. All three had been up into the late hours of the night doing the assignment.
Harry and Ron walked sluggishly behind Hermione into the Defense classroom not entirely awake yet.
“Professor Lupin! You’re back!” exclaimed Hermione surprised. Harry and Ron both looked up jolted by Hermione’s voice. There, leaning up against his desk at the front of the classroom and waiting for his students to arrive, was none other than the long absent Remus Lupin.
“Finally…” grumbled Ron as he took his seat in a slight huff.
“Yes, Hermione, I’m back,” said Professor Lupin with a slight grin. Harry wanted to ask him why he had been away, but he knew that now wasn’t the time. The classroom was almost completely filled and each student was also wondering why Lupin had been mysteriously absent for two weeks.
Lupin gave him a small nod acknowledging that Harry, Hermione, and Ron could ask him their questions later privately. Harry nodded back and took his seat next to Ron as the bell rang.
“Well, hello everyone,” began Lupin addressing the whole classroom, “I hear Professor Snape has assigned a test today and an essay.”
The class groaned loudly at the mention of their test and assignment, Ron especially.
“Ahhh I see, that bad,” said Lupin with a knowing look. “Well, I know this may not be what you want to hear, but I agree with Professor Snape. Your N.E.W.T. year must have a harder curriculum in order to prepare you for your exams.”
Hermione turned around from her front and center seat and flashed a smug smile to both Harry and Ron.
“Snape for two weeks and now he’s preaching like Hermione, stupid git….I hate it when that girl’s right,” whispered Ron scrunching his nose at Hermione in return.
“Which is pretty much all the time,” Harry whispered back.
“That’s the reason we get along so well,” said Ron smirking.
“That being said,” began Lupin, drawing Ron and Harry’s attention back to the front of the class, “I also believe in the practical use of magic. So I’ve decided that instead of a written exam about Patronuses, I’m going to ask instead that each of you do the Patronus charm in front of me while answering a few questions along the way.”
“Well, looks like the man has some sense in him after all. Better than a written exam from Snape, we would’ve been here for hours,” whispered Ron. Harry shrugged. He was slightly anxious about this, yet he wasn’t willing to let Ron know that.
“So class I’d like for you all to stand up WITH your wands and line up in the middle of the room,” said Lupin. As the students stood up, he flicked his wand clearing the desks and neatly aligning them against the walls. The students lined up down the middle of the room and faced Lupin twirling their wands nervously.
Harry was eager to see how everyone fared with casting this charm. In his world, he had taught most of the seventh years here in the class how to perform it. Ron had mentioned the D.A. and Umbridge back when they had all sat around in the Great Hall speculating the underground war, but he wondered if they had gone over Patronuses. By the looks of everyone, he guessed that they hadn’t. Everyone looked incredibly nervous and uneasy making Harry’s anxiety deepen.
Parvati ended up being the first to go. She stepped up to Lupin shaking slightly.
“Expecto patronum.” A slight wisp of silvery smoke appeared at the end of her wand and then seemingly evaporated into the air. Both Harry and Parvati deflated at the sight of her meager Patronus.
“That was a good attempt,” said Lupin reassuringly. “Now, can you answer for me what a Patronus actually does?”
“Er….It creates a positive shield for the witch or wizard,” she replied.
“Correct. Next,” said Lupin while motioning Parvati to move aside. Parvati stepped out of the line and went to stand along the wall bewildered. Did she fail or pass? No one seemed to know.
The next to step forward was Ernie Macmillan. He strode forward confidently and said the incantation in his usual pompous voice. A wisp smaller than Parvati’s shot out of his wand. Ron sniggered at the sight.
“Well done Ernie,” said Lupin pausing momentarily to glare at Ron. “Now, name a creature that a Patronus protects you from.”
“Dementors, of course,” he replied. Lupin nodded and Ernie stepped out of line to join Parvati. So far the questions seemed to be quite easy and Lupin seemed to be very encouraging about the process. As others stepped forward, Lupin again told them to perform the charm and then asked an incredibly easy question to follow it. Nobody really knew if they had passed or failed, but after the first few to go everyone was beginning to relax, everyone except Harry that is.
If anything Harry was getting more nervous. If they hadn’t gone over Patronuses in the D.A. then maybe he had never been taught how to do one back in third year in the first place. How was he going to pull this off?
Soon it would be Harry’s turn. A Hufflepuff girl, Hermione, and then Ron were in front of him. Harry’s ability to do a Patronus had always been one of his prides. He rarely felt like he was all that good at school, but with his Patronus charm he took a giant leap towards extraordinary. It was one of the few things that actually made him think he had a fleeting chance at defeating Voldemort when they would eventually meet. It was his one true show of his magical ability. Yet in this situation that fact was the reason that Harry wanted to make a run for it.
The Hufflepuff girl answered her question and walked off. She had done a small wisp like all the others. And Harry sunk down even more at the sight of it. Next, it was Hermione’s turn. Harry perked. If anyone could do this, it was Hermione. A glimmer of hope rose for Harry.
He watched as she stepped forward, said the incantation, and then slowly saw a form begin to issue from the tip of her wand. Slightly faded, but there all the same was a bushy haired fox. Lupin clapped his hands in approval. The rest of the class joined in although not entirely all that surprised though. It was after all Hermione.
Harry watched the fox curiously. He couldn’t figure out why Hermione’s Patronus was a fox in this world and not the otter that he had grown to associate with her natural brilliance and curiosity. All of his thoughts momentarily left him as he continued watching the animal look about the classroom seemingly searching for something. Its search stopped upon seeing Harry and the fox stood stock still with a gentle gaze resting on Harry. Then as if it had never been there, the fox evaporated.
“Brilliant, Hermione!” exclaimed Lupin again clapping his approval. “Brilliant show of concentration!”
Harry looked up from where the fox’s form had evaporated and briefly caught Hermione’s eyes. A slight smile tugged at the corner of her mouth.
“Now for your question,” said Lupin bringing Hermione’s attention to him, “Can a wizard’s or witch’s Patronus change?”
“Yes, it changes due to-”
“Correct!” said Lupin cutting her off and shooing her to the side like all the rest. Hermione moved to the side confused by the fact that she was given an easy yes or no question and that she wasn’t allowed to elaborate.
“I don’t think Hermione’s ever had to NOT explain something before…” said Ron chuckling. “And of course Hermione could make a fully formed Patronus…”
Harry barely laughed as his nerves were beginning to find their way back to him. Hermione was the only one thus far that could produce a Patronus. Ron was right. Considering Hermione was the best in their year and practiced these things like crazy, it surprised no one that she could pull that off. He, Harry, had loads of practice with Lupin in his third year before getting it right and there was no scenario in which he could produce his stag without that guidance. How was he going to explain how he could do it for the first time without any of that?
“Are you nervous, mate? Don’t worry. Remember nobody but me and Hermione know you can do a Patronus, no one is expecting anything, k?”
“Alright, Ron you’re up,” said Lupin, ending Ron’s talk to Harry. Ron stepped forward leaving a stunned Harry behind.
Apparently he could do a Patronus…but how? It didn’t make any sense to him. With Harry’s parents alive then Sirius never would have gone to prison for giving them to Voldemort and ultimately killing them. Meaning Sirius wouldn’t have escaped and gone to find Harry in Harry’s third year bringing the dementors with him. Harry wouldn’t have needed to learn the Patronus charm. So then in this world when did he learn? And more importantly why?
Before Harry could start on that next thought, it was time for his turn. Ron had already done the charm and now was standing to the side of the room next to Hermione. The whole room seemed to be waiting on him.
Harry stepped forward making eye contact with Lupin who gave him a small wink. By Ron’s misinterpreted reassurances and Lupin’s little wink, Harry had to believe that it was true that he could do a Patronus in this world too. Either way, whether he could or couldn’t do the charm in this world, he would still have to speak the incantation to get his marks. There was no way out. He took a deep breath and calmed himself. Everything was going to be ok.
Thinking of how he had first met Emily, Harry confidently cried “Expecto patronum.”
As usual, Harry saw his stag burst forth. It stood proudly in between him and Lupin. The entire class went silent, completely in awe of Harry’s bright and shimmering Patronus. Harry looked through the smoky figure of his stag and saw Lupin’s expression darken at the sight of his Patronus. Harry’s concentration broke and the stag disappeared immediately.
The class immediately broke out into full applause for Harry who would’ve turned red if it weren’t for the fact that he couldn’t take his eyes away from Lupin. Lupin’s gaze was intense and piercing. Something wasn’t right, but Ron had said that he could do a Patronus. Why was Lupin looking at him like that?
As the applause stopped, Lupin seemed to snap out of his stare and gather his senses.
“What does the caster have to do in order to create a Patronus?” asked Lupin.
“Think happy thoughts,” said Harry, still looking at Lupin trying to read whatever was going on behind the man’s guarded eyes. Lupin averted Harry’s gaze and turned back towards the class.
“Alright, well, that’s all for today class. You all did very well and for the first test of the year everyone has received full marks,” said Lupin causing the class to whoop happily, “Keep practicing the Patronus charm. I will see you all next class.”
“Hermione can I talk to you for a minute?” asked Lupin as the class was filing out. Hermione stopped from following the rest of the seventh years out the door and turned back to Lupin. Harry tried fumbling with his pack so that he could stay back and overhear some of what they were going to talk about, but Lupin was watching him seemingly waiting for him and Ron to leave.
“Harry you’ll have your chance to ask questions about my absence later. I need a moment with Hermione,” said Lupin placing a hand on Hermione’s shoulder leading her back to the front of the room away from the door. Harry knew he couldn’t hang back any longer, so he picked up his pack and walked slowly out of the classroom with Ron following behind him.
Something definitely wasn’t right with that look Lupin gave him. Not right at all.
The moment the door shut behind him Harry’s stomach started turning. Something was wrong, very wrong. Whatever they were talking about had to be about him and it couldn’t be good. He should’ve stayed back to listen at the door, but then again Lupin probably put a charm on the door. They had to be talking about his Patronus. Something was wrong with it. Harry had seen Lupin’s eyes when his stag appeared and he knew that Lupin hadn’t recognized it.
A chill crept up Harry’s spine as he remembered Lupin’s eyes staring into him. It wasn’t Lupin’s initial reaction of not recognizing his stag that was scaring Harry so. It was after that. After Lupin’s first reaction settled, something about how his eyes darkened stayed burned in Harry’s mind. It was like suddenly something clicked in Lupin’s mind. Something clicked in his mind and it was definitely something that was not in Harry’s favor.
Harry quickened his pace through the crowd of students. He had to get back to the common room and to his dormitory. He needed some place to think.
“Whoa Harry slow down for a sec,” said Ron as he weaved in and out of students and hurried to keep up with Harry. Harry didn’t slow his pace at all though. Ron rushed forward finally catching up to Harry.
“What happened in there mate?” asked Ron puzzled, wheeling around and stopping Harry in his tracks. “I mean…what was that? A horse?”
“It was a stag,” said Harry pushing past Ron and continuing on.
“Ok a stag then,” continued Ron walking along with Harry, “The point is why didn’t you tell me your Patronus changed? I mean that’s a big deal. It’s not everyday that a wizard’s Patronus changes! I mean how-”
Ron was cut off by Emily who was walking up hurriedly and was obviously excited about telling the boys something. Both the boys turned to her as she approached.
“Hey! Guess what I just heard?”
“What?” asked Harry keen on getting off the subject Ron was trying to inquire about and seeing his out in whatever Emily was bringing up.
“Wait a minute, Harry, what about-” started Ron, but was immediately silenced with the “not now” look from Harry.
“What about what?” asked Emily intrigued by the exchange between the two boys.
“Nothing,” said Ron shaking his head, “What were you saying…you’d heard about what?”
Emily eyed the two suspiciously observing that something was definitely up, but seeing as how they didn’t want to talk about it apparently, she simply shrugged and continued on with what she had originally come to tell them about.
“Oh yeah. Well, the Hogsmeade trips were just listed and we’ve got one this weekend as fate will have it,” she said happily.
“Brilliant! I definitely need to restock my sweets,” said Ron perking up with the news. Harry couldn’t tell if Ron’s reaction was fake or not, but he was glad for the out. He was just about to say something when a loud shout rang through the crowd.
“With what money, Weaselbee?!”
A wave of laughter came from behind the three as a group of Slytherins approached led by a smug looking Malfoy.
“Couldn’t help but overhear you three talking about Hogsmeade this weekend,” said Malfoy as he sauntered over to the trio.
“Ya know the way I see it, certain people shouldn’t even be allowed to go to Hogsmeade. It takes an understanding that the trip is a…. privilege,” said Malfoy taking a step closer to Ron. “Do you know anything about that Weaselbee? Privilege?”
Ron’s ears turned bright red enraged by Malfoy’s remark. While one remained tightly curled, Ron’s other hand reached inside his robes for his wand, but he was held back by Emily’s hand on his elbow. Malfoy eyed Ron waiting to see if he would take the bait and retaliate with a curse, but instead Ron dropped his arm back to his side with a small glance to Emily.
“That’s what I thought Weaselbee,” sneered Malfoy, moving even closer to Ron so that they were nearly nose to nose. “Pathetic… if you ask me.”
Malfoy took a step back and with one last glare turned to rejoin the crowd of snickering Slytherins. But before he could do so, Harry stepped in blocking his path.
“Got something to say Potter?”
Harry stood there as if momentarily in thought.
“No, not really,” he replied. Malfoy snorted and made to move past him, but Harry side stepped, again blocking Malfoy’s path.
“What are you playing at Potter?” cried Malfoy angrily making a reach for his wand.
Before he could even grip his fingers around it, Harry’s fist flew out colliding with Malfoy’s jaw and sending him to the floor.
The hall erupted with angry shouts as all the Slytherins drew their wands and pointed them directly at Harry. Ron and Emily stepped up next to Harry whipping their own wands out too, ready to throw back anything the Slytherins gave.
Everyone in the hall turned to see Professor McGonagall striding hurriedly up to the crowd. Ron and Emily returned their wands back into their robes as did the Slytherins.
“What on earth is going on here?!” yelled McGonagall as the crowd cleared a path for her. She made her way to the center where Harry stood above a bleeding Malfoy. McGonagall’s eyes moved from Malfoy’s bleeding lip to Harry’s clenched fist.
“Mr. Potter follow me. The rest of you should move along to your classes,” said McGonagall addressing the stand still crowd. “NOW!”
The crowd shifted into motion. Crabbe stepped forward and lent a hand out to help Malfoy up. Ignoring it, Malfoy stood up and righted himself. After fixing his robes, he stalked off followed closely by his group of Slytherin cronies.
“Mr. Potter,” said McGonagall bringing Harry’s attention back. “To my office please.”
With one last look to Ron and Emily, Harry turned and followed McGonagall.
“Could you please explain to me Mr. Potter why you felt the need to assault Mr. Malfoy?” said McGonagall as she walked briskly into her office and took a seat behind her desk.
Harry followed her in and took a seat in the chair McGonagall motioned for him to sit in. McGonagall gazed expectantly at him waiting for Harry to begin defending himself.
“What did Mr. Malfoy say this time for him to deserve a bloody lip?”
Harry remained silent. He really couldn’t think exactly why he so badly wanted to slug Malfoy. It normally took a lot more from the prat to get Harry’s blood to boil. But for some reason it just felt like Harry’s best plan was to wipe the smug look off of Malfoy’s face. It was the one thing he had control over right now.
He couldn’t listen to what Hermione and Lupin were discussing and ultimately what they were concluding. He didn’t even know for sure if they were talking about him, but after that look from Lupin they had to be talking about his Patronus. His Patronus that apparently was not the real Patronus of this world’s Harry. How was he going to explain that? The way he saw it was that Lupin and Hermione were coming down to one of two conclusions: either Harry’s Patronus had changed or that it hadn’t. If they came down to the decision that his Patronus had simply changed, then Harry would just have to sit down and explain when it happened and why which would be difficult, but still doable all the same. And if they decided it hadn’t changed…
Well at least I got to slug Malfoy.
“So you just hit Mr. Malfoy clear out of the blue?” pushed McGonagall glaring at Harry sternly. “Completely unprovoked?”
Harry again said nothing.
“Do you have any defense at all for your behavior?!” asked McGonagall irritated by Harry’s silence. Harry once again remained quiet.
“Well then Mr. Potter. If that is all you have to say then your punishment shall be a week’s detention with Mr. Filch beginning tonight at eight o’clock. You are dismissed.”
Harry nodded then quickly stood up and left.
Back in the classroom, Hermione stood next to Lupin waiting for him to begin whatever he needed to talk about. She watched curiously as Lupin’s eyes lingered on the door where Harry had only left a few moments before. He flicked his wand closing the door and then wordlessly silenced the room from eavesdroppers.
“Professor what is it?” asked Hermione causing Lupin’s attention to turn back to her. He took a seat on the front of his desk.
“Hermione, did you see Harry’s Patronus?” asked Lupin in a grave tone.
“Yes, it was a stag,” she answered, puzzled by Lupin’s change in demeanor. As soon as the class had exited, Lupin had affected a completely different manner.
“Yes, a stag,” said Lupin looking at her pointedly. Hermione not knowing where he was going with this just continued to look at him questioningly. She was beginning to feel a slight twinge of worry. Why was the Professor so concerned over Harry? She didn’t let it show, but instead waited patiently for him to elaborate further.
“Hermione, Harry’s Patronus is NOT a stag.”
“I know. It must’ve changed,” said Hermione not entirely concerned by that fact.
“It didn’t change,” countered Lupin darkly.
“But, sir, even you said that a wizard’s Patronus can change,” said Hermione confused.
“Yes, it can change, but not in this case,” said Lupin, again pointedly. He continued to stare at her expecting her to put two and two together, but Hermione’s nerves were beginning to get the best of her.
“Professor, what are you trying to say?”
“Hermione, why does a Patronus change?!” asked Lupin insistently, rising from his seated position making Hermione jump with the sudden movement. He was looking so intensely at her that she felt like it was a life or death situation. She had never seen him act like this before.
“Due to….due to….” stammered Hermione, unable to think of the explanation that she was so willing to give before while in class. “What does this matter Professor? What’s wrong with Harry?”
“It matters!” cried Lupin slamming his fist against the desk. “What makes a wizard’s Patronus change, Hermione?”
“A wizard’s Patronus changes due to…..due to extreme emotional strain or turmoil. The emotion must be persistent and powerful in order to cause the Patronus to change,” defined Hermione just as if she were reading the text book. She looked up at Lupin who was gazing at her expectantly in return. “Sir, what does this have to do with anything? What’s wrong with Harry?!”
“Because, Hermione, that’s NOT Harry!” cried Lupin.
Author's Note: I hope you all enjoyed the read. I'll try to have the next bit up as soon as I can. Please, please, please review and tell me what you think!
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