Chapter 6 : Warmth
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It was stuffy and hot in the Headmistress’s office that day in late July.
Harry looked around. Things hadn’t really changed that much since Dumbledore had gone; the colour of the walls were different, and there was no Fawkes, or Gryffindor Sword; but there was still the same chairs and the desk that used to separate he and the Headmaster; the silver and intricate instruments; and painting on the wall that were whispering things about him to each other, and at him:
“Good job, Harry!” said a balding, full faced man.
“You’ll do well, I’m sure of it,” a kind faced old woman assured.
“How are things in the outside world? This woman won’t tell us anything,” a dark-haired, brooding man complained. The female headmistresses shot him a look.
It wasn’t too bad though; Dumbledore’s pictures was right there with all of them, and it was enough to see his genial, calm face smiling and nodding to him as he got closer to the Headmistresses desk. Headmistress McGonagall turned him away from the picture, for she had been mid-sentence with him, nodded her hello to Harry, then invited him to sit down in the smaller chair in front on the large desk.
“I got your letter, and let me just say that I’m not sure if I’d be – er—qualified to do something like this, Professor…”
“It is headmistress, Mr. Potter,” Headmistress McGonagall corrected. Harry murmured an apology. “And you are certainly more than qualified than any many of the other teachers we’ve had… in the past… besides Severus, of course, who was exceptional.”
There was a blanket of silence as the two sat there in respect for the memory of Severus Snape.
“As soon as his story came out in the Quibbler – with your help, of course, Mr. Potter – of what you’d seen in the Pensieve the night he was killed… I could hardly believe it…” Her voice trembled and she sniffled. “He worked by my side and even Albus trusted him, and yet I still helped toss him out of the school…”
“Profess—Headmistress, it wasn’t your fault,” Harry tried to console his former teacher. “I had thought until the end that he’d been working for… You-Know-Who.” He was not afraid of saying the name at all, but over the summer there had been rumours of Death Eaters still using the Taboo to avenge Voldemort and kill the wizards who still dared say his name, convinced that The Dark Lord would still come back again. “I realise now, that…” Harry swallowed. So many deaths…“…that he spent all the time while I was at Hogwarts trying to protect me, when I thought he was just trying to kill me. If anyone should be sorry, it should be me.” Harry paused. “But he was the bravest man I ever knew, and I think we all regret giving him @#!*% during the life he lived.”
McGonagall sniffed. “I agree wholeheartedly with every single one of your words, Harry.” She grabbed a tissue from the corner of her desk of her former office and blew into it. “Oh, Merlin, so much to do….. It seems too big of a job for anyone to handle alone.”
“I’m sure you’ll be brilliant,” Harry said, smiling at McGonagall.
Headmistress McGonagall gave him a thin smile back. “Yes, well, the end of summer is almost here, and I still need a replacement teacher for the job opening….”
“I’ll do it then,” Harry said. “I just hope I’ll be half the teacher Lupin or Snape was before me.”
Stealing the Pensieve was probably the best – and the worst – idea he’d ever had.
No, strike that – he’d had worse.
It had to be after midnight, he thought. Four other Slytherins, including Nott and Blaise, were snoring deeply around him. Struggling against the covers he found himself tangled in, he went to his trunk, which still had the shallow bowl deep inside of it. Lifting the thing next to him on the bed, he took his wand to his temple, he closed his eyes, thinking of the dream, the terrible memory that had awoken him—and let go of it, at the same time pulling the wand away from his head. Tapping the wand with his forefinger, he dropped the sliver of wispy consciousness into the Pensieve, into the misty swirl of half-gaseous vapor, half liquid. Then Draco tucked it underneath his bed. He couldn’t believe it had only been the second day of classes, and he’d woken up from nightmares already. They were faint now; not completely gone but the horror of it was but a distant memory, an empty shell of what had been there.
A shiver went up his spine. It was always cold in the Slytherin dormitories, this close to the dungeons, though he had been sweating only moments earlier while sleeping, his bare, white back longed for something other than blankets to keep him warm. Memories of his brief fling with Pansy Parkinson flashed through his mind; fevered kisses, her body wrapped close around him in another bed far away, her heat and her scent keeping him happy, at least for the moment.
He was still thinking of that warmth when he covered himself with the thick, suffocating blankets and slept lightly, all nightmares gone from his head.
So began another day.
Again Draco fastened his tie, only now he was too aware of a possible awaiting Blaise to come knock him aside. Nott waited for him, patient as ever, even as Draco unfastened his tie twice for good measure, just to try the boy’s patience. The two boys walked down the emerald lighted hallway to the Slytherin Common Room.
“Hey look here,” Nott said pointing at something on the Bulletin Board. There was a Study Club for 5th Years starting in the Library next Wednesday; a Notice for the first Hogsmeade weekend; but Nott was pointing at the piece of parchment that took up most of the center: Quidditch try-outs.
“Going to try out?”
“No,” Draco replied, and reached out to tear the paper from the board, crumbling it with his fist, much to the dismay of several hopeful first yeas standing nearby.
Draco tossed the balled up paper behind him, and smirked.
“Why did you have to do that?” Nott asked as they walked through the empty corridors of the castle. It was still quite early. “You loved Quidditch.”
Draco rounded up on him. “Did I, Nott?”
Nott’s usually open, grey- green eyes grew dark, like the sea before the storm. “Maybe not. But you were in as Keeper for six years. What made you back out now?”
“Maybe I just wanted to give Potter some competition,” Draco said snidely, thinking of his broom, his wonderful Nimbus, in pieces.
“Oh please. You enjoyed flying. You loved that broom, and everyone knew it.”
“You don’t know me, okay!” Draco yelled.
“You don’t even know yourself, Nott replied voice lined with contempt, and then turned to walk away from him.
Draco stood there, stunned, while the faint morning light grew brighter as it made its way through the Romanesque windows of the castle.
If Hogwarts was hell , then Defense Against the Dark Arts was the deepest pit of it.
I can’t believe… they couldn’t find someone else for the job? Draco thought. No wonder they didn’t announce who would be teaching the class for this year; the whole Slytherin class would’ve left the school and never’d come back. His thoughts were jumbled as he entered the classroom, and prepared himself for the next hour of torture… For standing in the front of the classroom was Harry Potter; no satchel, no supplies, and writing on the chalkboard no doubt because he was supposed to, no doubt because…
He was the teacher.
Draco couldn’t remember why’d he’d wanted to get a N.E.W.T. in the class in the first place; the whole thing had been a joke to him in his sixth year. Nevertheless, his good connections with Snape had earned him an ‘Outstanding’ in the class, if anything else…
Snape. The name sent a painful lurch through his stomach, making him want to hurl. News tended to spread fast in the Death Eater Underground, stories of how he had stood up to The Dark Lord and in result had been punished as bait for his pet snake, Nagini. Images of his most favored teacher blew up in his mind, a memory he’d thought he’d pushed so far down that he didn’t bother emptying it into the Pensieve…
He’d been wrong.
Potter was still writing on the chalkboard, back to the class; but there was no way he would raise his hand to him to ask permission to go to the lavatories.
“Today we’ll be reviewing some things that should’ve been covered over the past few years. This class is still necessary, for there are still Death Eaters still wanting revenge and their most potent mission still fresh in their minds…”
He’d have to make an escape for it. He stood up, the chair scraping across the floor, and Potter looked at him questioningly. The world spun dangerously… and Snape’s face was before his eyes, his blood streaming down his face, gushing from his neck; black and white like the picture on the papers declaring his cause of death.
Draco puked wetly – it went out on his desk, on the floor below. Instantly weak and delirious, wanting it all to be over, he collapsed in the pool of his own sick, knocked out and exhausted.
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