Disclaimer: I'm not J.K. Rowling so i don't own the majority of these characters or settings
Chapter 16: The Highlight
Tensions were high between Slytherin and Gryffindor on Monday, Harry’s arm was still in a sling and Prongs had taken to walking at his side when Ron and Hermione weren’t there for him to ride on. Luckily, no one had tried anything yet, under Harry’s orders the Slytherins had been spared the pranking from the twins and since it had been a weekend the Gryffindors hadn’t come into any Slytherin traps yet. But now that it was Monday Harry was on edge, he could feel that something would happen, but he didn’t know what, and it wasn’t just his empathy that gave him that feeling, his entire body felt ready for anything and Prongs was tense too.
Be careful today Harry, I feel that something will happen.
Me too, don’t leave my side today, no matter what.
I don’t plan to.
Harry stayed in the common room until Ron and Hermione were ready, a first but with good reason. They waited until a large group of Gryffindors was going and some of their friends had joined them before heading to breakfast and Prongs perched on Ron’s shoulder, his ears up and twitching as if expecting something to happen. They made it to the Great Hall and over to their seats without any problems and for a while it seemed like nothing would happen, but as everyone started to get up for class a crash shook the hall and a bludger was spotted near the high windows that it had just crashed through.
Panic set in, students ran to leave or ducked under their tables, the staff that remained jumped up to try and catch it and Harry suddenly found himself surrounded by his friends. Harry had a moment of déjà vu when the bludger shot directly towards him as it had done during his second year. Everyone dove to the sides when the bludger rush towards them and Harry dodged it well enough. Harry slipped out of his sling and let his arm hang at his side as he crouched on the ground with Prongs at his side. The bludger turned around and dove at Harry again and he jumped up and sprinted away from it and the others and Prongs was right there with him.
When it was clear he could never outrun the bludger Harry slid to a stop and twirled around and just before the bludger hit him in the chest, he leapt up and back, letting it strike his stomach instead while lessening the blow as his right arm hugged the struggling ball to him. He landed and crouched there on the ground, even though the blow wasn’t as hard as it could have been, it had still hurt and Harry was finding it hard to breathe.
Gryffindors and staff members swarmed him and Fred and George took the bludger from Harry and several of the professors went with them to try and sort out who had cursed it to go after him in the first place. Prongs leapt onto Harry’s knee and balance with his front paws on Harry’s shoulder to rub his head against his cheek and Harry leaned towards the touch.
“Harry, are you alright?” Dumbledore was asking as the concerned emotions flooded over Harry.
Prongs pulled back and stood at Harry’s side, he whined and Dumbledore seemed to understand.
“Harry, let’s get you to the Hospital Wing and have Madam Pomfrey take care of you.”
Harry nodded but then suddenly lurched and he caught himself on his right hand before he leaned over and vomited blood, making several girls cry out and making the concern worse to the point where Harry blocked it all off to keep sane. The last thing he heard was Prongs’ cry as he feinted.
The first thing Harry realized when he woke up was that he could breathe a lot easier and the only pain he felt came from his still healing shoulder blade. The second thing he noticed was Prongs curled up in the crook of his arm, and the third, was Sirius, asleep in the chair beside Harry’s bed in the hospital wing.
Prongs woke up the moment Harry moved and he chirped happily and started to purr.
You feel better now?
I feel a lot better, how long have I been asleep?
All day, Madam Pomfrey says that you broke a rib and it put a hole in your lung, but now that she’s fixed it you’re all better.
Funny how she can fix something like that in minutes but my shoulder blade will still take a few more days. When did Sirius get here? And where is Remus?
Sirius got here right as you were healed, and Remus didn’t come, I don’t know why.
Harry nearly jumped out his skin when a young man suddenly appeared at the foot of his bed. He calmed down once he realized that it was Tarragon, but his heart was still racing, he wasn’t used to being surprised anymore.
“You’re nothing but trouble kid,” Tarragon said as he walked over to Harry’s other side and ruffled his hair like Sirius always did. Now that the two were both right there, Harry saw a sort of resemblance between them, though it wasn’t obvious. “Sky sent me, in case you were wondering, and what is this? A battle with bludgers? The third time you’ve been hit and severely injured in as many days.”
“Sorry, I don’t plan these things.”
“It doesn’t matter, sit up, let me take a look at you.”
Harry sat up and winced at the spark that came from his shoulder. Tarragon grabbed the injured shoulder and Harry bit his lip to keep from crying out, then he felt the familiar tingling and the pain was gone. After that the older boy put a hand on Harry’s chest and the tingling spread through his body before it disappeared when the hand was taken away.
“Well, nothing more I can do for you today, just stop getting injured like this, I do have a job that I should be attending to.”
“Tell everyone I say hi and I miss them will you?”
“Sure thing kid.”
“And one more thing… are you related to Sirius?”
Tarragon looked over at the sleeping man and Harry sensed a strange fondness yet emptiness coming from him.
“He’s my father, he knows about me, but we’ve never met before and I want to keep it that way. Don’t tell him I was here, he wouldn’t understand why I didn’t introduce myself to him.”
“Why won’t you?”
“Because I do fine without him and I think meeting him will change things that I don’t want to change.”
Tarragon was gone before Harry could ask any more questions and then Sirius woke up as though the other boy’s departure had triggered it.
“Harry!” Sirius was up at once and he hugged Harry quickly but let go only seconds later. “I’m sorry; did I hurt your shoulder?”
“No, it’s feeling a lot better now, the potions are working pretty fast. I should be the one saying sorry anyway, this is the second time I’ve been severely hurt in one weekend. And where is Remus, I should apologize to him too.”
“Remus couldn’t come this time Harry, he’s on Order business, and I can’t be here much longer either. I’m sorry, I’ve stayed as long as I can,” he said, as he spotted the clock. “I’m glad you woke up before I had to leave.”
“Can’t you stay any longer?”
“No, I wish I could but I can’t. I love you Harry, you’re my son and I will always be there when you need me. Take good care of him Prongs,” Sirius said as he got up and headed to the fire, he was gone in a flash of green flames and Harry was left sitting there in bed just staring at the fireplace.
“Oh, you’re up! Good, now let’s take a look at you,” Madam Pomfrey said as she bustled over to Harry’s side. She waved her wand multiple times but Harry paid no attention. “That’s odd, your completely healthy.”
“Isn’t that how I should be?”
“But even your shoulder is better, as though it had never been broken at all.”
“I guess those potions really worked then. Does this mean I’m free to go?”
“I suppose I can’t argue if you are healthy.”
Harry nodded and left, Prongs in his usual spot across Harry’s shoulders.
It must have been pretty late because Harry didn’t cross anyone on his way to the Gryffindor common room, though as soon as he entered he found himself in the middle of a herd of people.
“Harry, are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m healthy, just a bit tired still, so if all of you will excuse me…” Harry shoved his way out of the large group and made his way up to his dorm with Ron, Hermione and Ginny behind him. “I really am healthy, Madam Pomfrey said so herself,” Harry said before any of them could ask.
“Good,” Hermione said, she was holding something back.
“What is it? What happened?”
“Look, everyone knows who cursed the bludger, but there’s no proof, so no one got into any trouble with the professors. But… well Fred and George…”
“I understand, and I suppose they would have done it anyway, no matter what I said to them. I can’t say I’m sorry, but they really shouldn’t have.”
“You really shouldn’t have Harry,” Ginny cut in. “Do you know how scared we were when you threw up blood and then feinted?”
Harry smiled and got to his feet, leaving Prongs on the bed and he leaned down and kissed Ginny full on the lips, even though he knew that the other three in the room were shocked into silence, Harry didn’t feel it, for the first time since his empathy had surfaced, he felt absolutely nothing, and it felt good.
He pulled back but rested his forehead against Ginny’s. “I’m sorry.”
It only took a few seconds for Ron to get a grip and he grabbed Harry and punched him in the face, something Harry had seen coming but hadn’t even attempted to prevent.
“Ron!” Both Ginny and Hermione were between the two and Prongs remained sitting on the bed as though this were nothing new.
Harry grinned and started to laugh and his three friends stopped and stared in confusion. “I don’t regret it Ron, but did you have to hit me so hard?” His eye was already turning black.
“Don’t you ever hurt my sister Harry,” Ron growled before stomping out of the room.
Ginny and Hermione shared a look and Ginny ran after her brother while Hermione stayed with Harry.
“Let me see that,” she said as she drew her wand. Harry’s black eye was gone in seconds and Hermione sat down beside him on the bed with Prongs between them. “So… you like Ginny?”
“Yeah, I like her a lot more than you think.”
“You really should have told Ron before just kissing her like that though; she is your best friend’s sister after all.”
“And he’s your best friend.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
Harry just gave her a knowing look. Ever since the tryouts Ron had been spending time with Lavender Brown and Hermione was jealous, he could feel it.
“How long have you known?”
“Not long I guess, but I can see it when he’s off with Lavender, you get jealous. Are you going to tell him?”
“He likes Lavender.”
“No he doesn’t, if he liked her he wouldn’t talk about anything else but her.”
“How do you know?”
“He’s my best friend; it’s my job to know these things. If you just tell him I’m sure things will change.”
“I will never understand the way a girl’s mind works.”
“And girls like it that way. Come on, I’ll get you the notes I took for you in our classes.”
Both stood up and Prongs leapt to Harry’s shoulder as he followed Hermione back down stairs for the notes.
“Welcome to the family!”
He didn’t even make it all the way down the stairs before Fred and George got to him.
“You kissed our sister right?”
“And you’re as good as a brother as it is…”
“So we’re welcoming you now!”
The common room seemed strangely quiet, there were still conversations, but they were dull as though everyone were waiting to hear if Harry really had kissed Ginny. Harry glanced at Ginny before saying anything, he could already feel her apprehension and a tinge of embarrassment and when he saw her shake her head just barely, he got the hint.
“I think you two are a little confused,” Harry said as he slipped away from the twins and reached Ron and Hermione at their usual table to get his notes.
“Confused about what?”
“Did you kiss our sister or not?”
Again Ginny twitched her head to tell him no.
“Hmm, well it’s only a matter of time.”
The two went off to test their newest products for their joke shop and Ginny went to her own friends as Harry sat down.
“You denied it?” Hermione whispered.
“Ginny didn’t want me to tell, besides, this is Fred and George we’re talking about.”
Ron was still sour at him but Hermione handed over her notes and they got to studying.
It took Harry a little over two weeks to finish McGonagall’s challenge to him, he had asked for all of the spells the next time he had been to her class and he had stayed up extra late every night to practice them. His first task after the challenge was to have fun with it. He didn’t run around pretending to be someone else, and he didn’t change when it wasn’t necessary, but his first time back to Transfiguration was the moment he had been waiting for. Prongs dashed in ahead to sit on McGonagall’s desk and with everyone inside, after a little coaxing from Harry in Ron and Hermione’s case, Harry transfigured himself silently into someone similar to Umbridge, but someone who was also more toad like in appearance, if it was possible, he was also dressed in the brightest pink and had the brightest pink bag and he made his voice into a croak. Everyone looked at him when he walked in, but with as much control as he had over his own emotions he was able to act seriously while sniggers broke out among the Gryffindors and the Ravenclaws both.
“Hem hem,” he croaked. “Hem hem.”
It was clear when he looked at McGonagall that she enjoyed it as well, though she was trying to be stern with him.
“Yes yes, very well done, a perfect imitation Harry, now take your seat so we can start the lesson.”
Harry grinned and tapped his head with his wand, “Finite.” He was himself in seconds with Prongs back on his shoulder and he walked to the back of the room and fell into his seat beside Ron and Hermione who were both holding in fits of laughter and hiding behind hands as they did so.
“Brilliant,” Ron sniggered.
“I can’t believe you actually did that!” Hermione breathed, she was nearly out of breath for holding in her laughter.
“I couldn’t help it, I had to, you know I did.”
They both choked on their laughs and the trio earned a stern glare from McGonagall for interrupting her lesson on conjuring inanimate objects. For the first few minutes most of the students were shaking or snorting into their hands from Harry’s bit of fun but they quieted when they were all set to practicing.
Harry spent a good ten minutes attempting to conjure a fork and at first it was so mangled it could barely be considered a fork at all, but after a few more tries a perfect fork sat there on the table in front of him and Prongs pounced on it, sending it flying through the air until it hit Dean on the back of the head.
Harry gave an awkward grin and then picked up Prongs by the scruff of his neck. “It was him.”
Dean gave him a disbelieving look but turned back to his own work never the less.
“You’re going to get me into big trouble one of these days,” Harry hissed at the sky fox.
You get yourself into enough trouble without me.
Harry dropped the fox and turned around, with so much time left in the class he had nothing better to do than practice. A little time spent thinking and a slash of his wand later a long table appeared at the back of the room and eight chairs soon followed and slid in. Harry set to conjuring table settings for each of the eight places and when he was done he fell into one of the chairs as Prongs inspected the eight matching sets.
“Mr. Potter…” McGonagall seemed to be choosing her words carefully and he noticed that most of the other students in the room were frustrated and angry and many were glaring at him over their shoulders. “I just don’t know what to do with you anymore.”
“I’m not sure what to do with me either,” Harry said, a smirk hidden away in the corner of his lips.
“Why don’t you leave for today,” she said after another long minute. “And take ten points for Gryffindor on your way out.”
“Thank you Professor.”
Harry gathered his things as McGonagall banished everything he had conjured and Prongs leapt onto his shoulder as he headed to the door, he was in a good mood, he always was after Transfiguration.
As always, Harry’s cheerfulness vanished when he walked into Defense, with Prongs banned from joining him in the class he just took his seat and opened his book to the next chapter of the day. He scanned over the pages while not reading them, he knew what it said; he had finished the book after all so there was no point in actually trying to read it again.
“Mr. Potter, you have detention with me tonight at five,” was the first thing Harry heard when Umbridge entered the room and he looked up and over at her with his confusion written on his face.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“You know what you did,” she said without elaborating. Harry’s best guess was that she heard about his feat of transfiguration that involved his impression of her, in which case yes, he probably deserved whatever it was she had planned for him, though he knew he wouldn’t like it anyway.
Unfortunately, Harry didn’t only have detentions for one night, but for the next five nights, which would last him all the way through Saturday, which normally would have been deserved if they didn’t last so long. Umbridge was also especially fierce with her criticism over these detentions, and those Harry could have lived without, it was as if all of his mental scars from his uncle were tearing apart and opening again. He really didn’t talk to anyone but Prongs anymore either, which was a big concern for Hermione and Ron, especially when he focused more on his homework than anything else. Quidditch could cheer him up a little, but practice only lasted for so long before it was over. He had missed the last D.A. meeting but if he was honest with himself, he hadn’t planned on attending it anyway.
The only thing that made him even come close to his cheerful self again was transfiguration. Every class he walked in as someone else, he no longer imitated people, but rather created his own characters. The only time he imitated anyone after his first try at it was when he mimicked McGonagall and stayed at her side mimicking her movements as he had done to Ron and Hermione when he had first mastered his art. She tolerated it for about five minutes while the class tried and failed to hold in their laughter and then he was sent to his seat while everyone calmed down. McGonagall started giving him two additional spells to learn after he had finished with the assigned one and he just agreed to it and set to one spell after another. Harry quickly mastered whatever the class learned and then moved on to something else that was more advanced than what the fifth years were supposed to learn.
Somehow Harry’s advanced learning made its way to Umbridge’s ears, Harry wasn’t sure how, someone in his class must have spoken about it where a Slytherin could hear and they relayed the message and Harry wound up with detentions, withdrawing even more with each night. The D.A. claimed to miss him, they had wanted to see his feats of transfiguration and mimicry since many of them weren’t in his transfiguration class, but he wouldn’t perform them outside of the class anymore.
His letters to Sirius and Remus grew more and more spread out, he kept claiming that O.W.L. year was the reason and he had told them about his advanced Transfiguration and so they had written him that they understood and that it was alright. Sky had also been in one of her unknown locations while she was in the middle of a move, so he hadn’t been able to reach her at all, though he had sent a letter though her godmother, no reply had come yet.
“Harry… Harry… HARRY!” He jumped when Hermione screeched his name; he had been lost in his own little world for a while now. “What has gotten into you these last two weeks?” she demanded.
“What do you mean?”
“She means that you barely talk anymore,” Ron said, he seemed just as offended as Hermione about the subject. “You don’t talk to anyone unless you have to, all you do is go to class and do homework and go to Quidditch practice and even when you are doing those things you don’t seem to really be paying any attention to them. It’s like you’re doing worse in classes or anything, but it’s not like you.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“What are you sorry about?” Hermione asked; she was confused by the strange apology. “We’re just worried about you is all, are you feeling alright, should we take you to Madam Pomfrey?”
“I’m fine, I guess it’s just O.W.L. year is all, and it’s just as hard as everyone says it is.”
“Yeah, but when anyone looks at you they would think you were taking it way worse than the rest of us, I know you get a lot of detentions from Umbridge, and I know she keeps you late, but it’s like there’s more to it than just lines.”
“No, there isn’t. Maybe I should go to bed now and get some extra sleep,” Harry mumbled, they had been doing their homework in the common room and it was one of the rare nights that Harry didn’t have a detention, so maybe if he went to bed early then he wouldn’t feel so tired when he woke up in the morning.
“Maybe you should,” Hermione said, though her voice told Harry that she was still worried about him.
Harry packed up all of his half finished homework and carried it up to his dorm, he didn’t even bother changing, he just dumped his bag on his trunk and fell into bed, the curtains closing themselves with a wave of his hand.
I’m worried too Harry, you should talk to me when you’re in these detentions, it will help to drown out her voice, Prongs said as he curled up in the crook of Harry’s arm. Please don’t shove me away too; I can’t go on without you here.
I know Prongs, I’m sorry, and I’ll try talking to you during detentions.