The characters and settings in this story belong to J.K. Rowling, i'm only borrowing them.
Chapter 12: Troubles of Empaths
As breakfast dragged on Harry found himself with a headache that didn’t seem like it would go away any time soon and he tried to tone down the intensity of the emotions around him that he had gotten used to since returning to Hogwarts in an attempt to help it go away, but it didn’t seem to cooperate with his efforts. To top it off everyone was talking about the article that covered the front page of the Prophet, Educational Degree Number 23: Dolores Jane Umbridge has been appointed to the post of Hogwarts High Inquisitor. Hermione quoted several sentences from the article, but Harry couldn’t pay attention if he had wanted to.
“Harry, are you alright, you’re not eating,” Hermione said, no matter how mad she was at him, she was still concerned.
“It’s just a headache, it’ll go away soon.”
“It’s not –,” Ron leaned closer to whisper, “it’s not a scar headache is it?”
“No Ron, it’s just a headache, everyone gets them.”
You shouldn’t have stayed up all night, Prongs scolded.
I know and I regret it, but I just couldn’t sleep.
When it came time to leave for History of Magic Harry’s headache seemed to have doubled in intensity and he took a nap like everyone else but Hermione. Ron was the one to shake his shoulder and wake him up and the struggle to wake up for double Potions seemed to make the headache even worse. Prongs tried to comfort him, to ease the pain, but every sound, every emotion, every light, they all made his head feel like exploding. Even after every effort to take the quietest, darkest ways down to the dungeons, the wait outside in the hall seemed to take forever. What’s worse, he could feel Malfoy approaching from all the way up in the entrance hall and the Slytherin made his way down to the dungeons and his emotions grew more prominent in Harry’s mind, though he did all he could to block them out.
“Well Potter, you’re not looking too good today. Realized that Dumbledore’s on his way out did you?”
“Shut up Malfoy, I’m not in the mood to listen to your stupidity today,” Harry said quietly, shoving his hands into his pockets to keep himself from punching the Slytherin, though Prongs wasn’t so reserved in his threats, he growled at Malfoy and bared his fangs.
“Too bad, I have it upon good authority that soon you won’t be able to do anything about it. I’m moving up in the world Potter, and you’re always going to be a low class wizard,” Malfoy went on, despite Prongs’ threat.
“And you think that I’ll let you get somewhere in the world? Aren’t you a little confused on that point Malfoy, you’re the low class wizard who hides behind his father’s money and Voldemort’s power. If anything I’d say that Hermione is the one going places, she’s the smartest one here after all.”
“And yet she’s only a mudblood, like your mother.”
His movements were too fast, with one glare Harry froze Malfoy in place and trapped him against the wall with a foot against his neck, his hands still in his pockets and his eyes once again half closed and tired. “Say what you will about me Malfoy, but don’t ever insult my friends or my family.”
“Potter!” Harry looked down the hall at Snape and released Malfoy, putting both feet on the ground and letting the other boy slide to the floor as he glared at the man and watched him approach. “My office, now! Malfoy, go to the hospital wing. The rest of you sit down and be quite.”
Harry followed Snape into his office for the punishment he would get while his friends took up their usual table in the back of the room.
When Snape didn’t say anything Harry began to question the reason why and decided to snoop into the professor’s emotions. Curiosity. Protectiveness. Confusion. But no anger, just, disappointment. These weren’t the emotions a professor was supposed to have in this situation.
“Potter, normally I would just give you detentions for a week for that little stunt, but before I do, I have to question why you did it. This is out of character for you.”
“Why do you care? You’re a professor, and you’ve never liked me, you’re not supposed to ask these questions, you’re supposed to give me my detentions and mark me down on my next essay to spite me.” Snape just stared right back at Harry, he didn’t need to say anything, Harry knew by the look on his face that he was concerned for the teenager. “I’m just in a bad mood today, happy?”
“There’s more to it than that.”
Harry knew it was coming, he had felt it so many times over the summer, but he couldn’t do anything about it, his pounding head wouldn’t let him protect himself from Snape’s legilimency. The professor entered his mind and while he could steer him away from certain memories that he had to protect, he couldn’t get him out.
“Get out of my head!” Prongs took charge and leapt at Snape, cutting off eye contact and as soon as the connection was broken Harry left the office at a fast walk, leaving Prongs to catch up, which didn’t take long, and he didn’t stop until he had made his way all the way up to the Entrance Hall. After a deep breath he made his way up to the Gryffindor tower and staggered through the empty common room up to his dorm where he fell into bed and passed out.
“Prongs?” Hermione had nearly jumped out of her skin when the sky fox jumped onto her shoulder and then leapt to the ground, looking at her and yet backing away towards the door. He dashed forward and pulled her shoelace and then backed towards the door again.
“Ron, let’s go,” Hermione mumbled, if it were anything else she never would have left a class early, but there was definitely something wrong.
After quickly tying her shoe again, Hermione shoved all of her things into her bag and nearly dragged Ron through the halls with her as she followed Prongs back to the Gryffindor tower. When they reached the fifth year boy’s dormitory Prongs raced to Harry’s bed and curled up beside the sleeping teen.
“Harry, there’s something wrong with Prongs, wake up,” Hermione said as she walked over to him, he was barely even on the bed, a little further and he would fall right off. “Harry!” She shook him and the blankets slipped, taking Harry down and he crashed onto the floor, making Prongs howl as though he had been the one to fall on the ground. “Harry!” Prongs was already curled on his chest when Hermione knelt down to shake him and try and wake him. “Ron, go find help, there’s something wrong, he’s not waking up!”
Ron ran out and returned a few minutes later with Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey right behind him. They ran to the bed and Ron and Hermione stayed out of the way. After a short lived attempt to wake him, it was decided that he had to be moved to the Hospital Wing but they didn’t want him to be seen, that would only cause trouble for Harry later.
“I’ll go and get the headmaster, you two had best go ahead to lunch, we’ll take care of Harry.”
“Will he be alright?”
McGonagall didn’t seem to know what to say so she said the only thing she could, “I don’t know.”
Reluctantly, Ron and Hermione left for lunch and when McGonagall found Dumbledore, they moved Harry to the hospital wing without anyone seeing them. There was very little that could be done without knowing what was wrong with the boy, but one action had to be taken, they contacted Sirius and Remus. Within seconds the two had flooed to the Hospital Wing and were at their charge’s bedside in an instant.
Prongs leapt onto Sirius’s shoulder and rubbed against his cheek, he was clearly distressed, he was shivering and the man took a moment to pet the little fox before looking at Harry.
“Why aren’t you doing anything for him?” Sirius demanded of Madam Pomfrey.
“There’s nothing I can do Sirius. He’s perfectly healthy; just let him sleep, this will pass before dinner I’m sure.”
“How can you be so sure? There must be something you can do, anything.”
The mediwitch could only shake her head and leave the two men to watch over the teenager until he woke. Without a sound the men took seats and waited for Harry to show signs of waking up, they seemed to count the seconds that passed but there was no change, Madam Pomfrey looked in on them every hour and by nightfall, nothing had changed but Remus’s position in his chair and Prongs’ relocation to Harry’s side.
“Come on Harry, don’t do this to us, wake up,” Sirius begged.
Harry groaned and rolled over, “Five more minutes.”
“Harry! Come on kiddo, time to wake up.”
Harry looked over his shoulder at his godfather and scowled at the man. “I was having a very nice nap you know.”
“Harry, you ran out of potions and this little guy dragged Ron and Hermione back to you, they couldn’t wake you, no one could,” Remus explained. “It’s night time already.”
“Is it? That must be why you two are so relieved then, right?”
“Yeah, yeah it is. Are you feeling alright? Are you in any pain or… anything?”
“No, I had a headache earlier but it’s gone now.” Prongs cried at Harry and he lifted his familiar into his arms and hugged him, scratching behind his long ears until he calmed down. “I’m sorry I made you worry Prongs.”
“So this is really him, he’s smaller in person,” Remus said, reaching out to rub Prong’s head and earning one of the cat-like purrs that Harry had become accustomed to. “I’ve only ever read about sky foxes before, I can hardly believe he just attached himself to you like he did, you’re very lucky to have him.”
“I know, Prongs is the greatest there is, he seems to know me better than I know myself.”
I do know you better than you know yourself, the echo that was Prongs’ voice said in Harry’s mind. The comment earned the fox a pinch on the ear.
There was a tap on the window and the three looked over to see Hedwig on the windowsill, a roll of parchment tied to her leg. Remus got up and let her in and she flew to Harry who stroked her before taking the letter and unrolling it, letting her escape from Prongs as he did. He held it just right so that neither Sirius nor Remus could read it and his eyes traveled over every word that was written in the long letter before he rolled it back up and sighed.
“She could have told me that sooner,” he mumbled.
“Who could have told you what?”
“Empaths will occasionally get headaches, they’re not normal ones and they’re a lot more painful, and after a while they will cause us to pass out for a while, but they’re not dangerous to us. I’m sorry if I scared you, I’ve never gotten one of these headaches before.”
“Is that what was in that letter?”
“Is it from another empath?”
“Yes. She’s the one that taught me how to control it but she doesn’t want anyone to know about her yet, so I can’t talk about her.”
“What else did she say?”
“That I should teach myself defense and if I want she can send me some good spells to learn. You people are all the same.”
Sirius laughed and pulled Harry into a hug that the teen readily returned; he had missed his godfather more than anything and talking to him in the fire the other night just wasn’t enough.
“I missed you Sirius.”
“I missed you too kiddo. Come on, we’ll go down to the kitchen and get some dinner, how does that sound?”
“Good, I’m starving.”
The family of three left the Hospital Wing and traversed the hallways on their way to the kitchen, they didn’t come across anyone and that was just fine by them, they didn’t want to see anyone. Remus tickled the pear in the bowl of fruit and the house-elves of the kitchen were ready, there was a small table with three plates and a lot of food awaiting them, including a large bowl of fruits that prongs got lost in. A meal with his two favorite people was just what Harry needed, they made him feel better than he had all week and he so desperately needed to be close to them that he would have wished for dinner to never end. But it did, all too soon it was time for Sirius and Remus to go and Harry walked with them back up to the Hospital Wing. They stayed just long enough for Madam Pomfrey to give Harry the usual once over before turning to him for another goodbye.
“Well Harry, as soon as Christmas comes around, you’ll be home with us again, and feel free to call anytime you want, for you we’ve always got time,” Remus said as he gave Harry a hug and stepped back into the flames, vanishing a plume of green.
“He’s right, and if you need me to come here, just give the word and I’ll come before you can say Hogsmead. I’ll do whatever I can to help you with anything kiddo, and if you have another one of those headaches then tell Madam Pomfrey and sleep here until it’s over. And tell me every time you get one, anything with this is important to me, I want to know all about it, anything new, anything that isn’t right, send me a letter or call on the mirrors, I’ll always be available.”
“I know Sirius, and I will, I promise.” He didn’t mention Snape’s emotions, those weren’t right, but he wasn’t going to tell Sirius, he was just going to keep a watch on them and see what happened. “I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too, and your cooking, Remus isn’t as good as you are in the kitchen.”
Harry laughed at his godfather; he always knew how to ruin the mood, especially when it was getting mushy.
“I’ll make the best Christmas dinner you’ve ever had when I get home.”
“I can’t wait kiddo.”
Sirius grinned wider and turned his attention to Prongs, “You take good care of him, alright?” At the chirp from Prongs the man laughed and rubbed the little fox’s head the way he rubbed Harry’s. Sirius gave Harry one more monster hug and then he too disappeared in a plume of green flames and he was left alone in the Hospital Wing. There was no point in staying where he was, so Harry started the long walk to the Gryffindor tower and the closer he got the more he dreaded getting there and facing everyone, especially those who had seen his outburst at Potions. However, there was no point in avoiding it so with a little courage he walked right in and passed all the staring people on his way to the stairs and from there up to his dorm.
He was allowed two minutes of quiet before Ron and Hermione and Neville walked in, though there were others out in the hallway.
“Are you alright Harry?”
“Yeah, why shouldn’t I be?”
“We couldn’t wake you up, what happened after you left Potions?”
“I came here and went to sleep. I’m fine Hermione, I just had a bad headache and I needed to sleep it off and I did and I’m fine, even Madam Pomfrey says so.”
“What did you mean when you said ‘get out of my head’?” Ron asked.
“You were in Snape’s office and then you shouted that and then you left,” Hermione explained.
“Oh, that, he knows legilimency, I didn’t want him seeing my memories and Prongs broke the spell so I could leave.”
“Professor Snape knows legilimency?” Hermione asked eagerly.
“Apparently, and if he ever uses it on me again I’ll curse him, I don’t care if he is a Professor, he has no right to look at my memories like he did.”
“Why would he try and look in the first place?”
“To find out why I attacked Malfoy, Dumbledore probably told him to forget about punishment since I passed out for over half the day, but that doesn’t mean much. I’m going to do my homework up here tonight; you’re welcome to join me.”