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Chapter 37 : A Suitable Teacher
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A Suitable Teacher
When Harry woke the next morning, he couldn't remember how he had come to be in his room in Snape's quarters. He sat up, trying to figure it out, scratching his head in puzzlement. Then it all came back to him; the sleepwalking, the astral travel, and returning to his body too soon and becoming embarrassingly ill in front of his Head of House and Severus. "Somebody hex me now," he groaned to himself. He wished he knew why his magic kept betraying him like this, creating problems he didn't know how to solve.
Sighing, he slid from the next of blankets and began to dress. He didn't have class till the afternoon, and could probably go back to bed, but he wasn't tired. He wondered if Severus was awake yet and what he would say about this new development. He would probably be as pleased about it as Harry was. Once he had combed his hair down, he went out into the sitting room, and found Skull napping on the back of Snape's recliner while Severus read the paper.
Harry shuffled into the room and took a seat on the couch.
Skull opened one beady eye and cawed. "Good morning, bran-boy! Sleep well?"
Harry blushed, then said awkwardly, "Uh . . . yeah, I guess so. Morning, Uncle Sev."
Severus set the paper down on his lap and looked at the boy. "Good morning, Harry. I trust there were no more . . . episodes after I brought you down here last night?"
"No." Harry said, playing with a string dangling from his sleeve.
Severus looked relieved, then he called Prissy and asked her to bring some tea and a light breakfast.
The elf returned with a platter of scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon and a large pot of tea. Severus filled a plate for Harry and sent it over to him along with some tea, sugar, and milk. He took a saucer and placed some eggs and bacon on it for Skull and then began to eat his own meal.
They ate quietly, the only sound in the room the soft clink of silverware and Skull's humming. Finally, Severus set down his fork and tossed his napkin over his plate and said, "Harry, we need to talk. How long have you been sleepwalking?"
Harry paused with a piece of toast midway to his mouth. He quickly set it down and said, "Err . . . I'm not too sure. Maybe . . . a couple of days?"
"Why wouldn't you tell me about it?" the Potions Master asked, a faint hurt tone creeping into his speech. "I thought you had gotten over keeping secrets from me."
"I . . . It wasn't like that, Uncle Sev," Harry protested. "I mean, I didn't even know I was sleepwalking until Ron and Nev told me about it a few days ago." He told Severus about waking up and finding his hands scraped and his pajamas wet and muddy. "At first I thought I'd done it to myself, you know scratched myself in my sleep. And that somebody had put the leaves in my hair as a joke. I was having weird dreams, but maybe they weren't just dreams. I couldn't remember anything when I woke up."
"I see. Do you know that you were Traveling as you sleepwalked? That was how you never fell while crawling all over the castle walls and ledges." Severus pointed out. It made him feel a little better that Harry hadn't been totally trying to keep the episodes a secret from him, that Harry did trust him somewhat.
"I was Traveling in my sleep?" Harry gasped. "I . . . didn't think you could do that."
"You can," Skull purred.
"But . . . why?"
"I was hoping you could answer that question," Severus said. "Do you remember falling asleep and being anxious over something? Or upset?"
Harry shook his head. "No. I was just really tired, but not . . ."
"There was nothing you recall that . . . compelled you Travel?
"No. Least not that I can remember. I don't understand. Why is this happening?"
"I am . . . not sure." Severus hesitated.
"I think your talent is slipping its leash, Harry," Skull chimed in gravely.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means you need help controlling it," the raven replied.
"But . . . how can I control it when I don't even know I'm doing it?"
"That is the heart of the matter," his guardian said. "I do not like what has been happening, Harry. This Traveling subconsciously is dangerous."
"It's not my fault!"
"Did I say it was?" Severus rebuked softly. "Skullduggery tells me that when you Travel thus, you put yourself at risk in the Place Between Worlds. That you make yourself vulnerable to certain predators there."
Harry swallowed hard. "I do? But I'm not looking for anything over there."
"That doesn't matter. For a beginning Traveler, like yourself, there are many dangers. You don't need to look for them, bran-boy. They'll come looking for you," Skull told him.
"How do I stop doing it then?"
"I suppose I could give you Dreamless Sleep temporarily," Severus conceded. "That should put you into a deep enough sleep that your mind will not be tempted to wander. But that will only work so long, Harry. I brought you down here to keep you from climbing out the window and running about on the parapet. We need to find you a tutor, someone who knows how to Travel and can teach you how to control your power."
"Can't you do it? You've Traveled."
"Only with Skull's help. I am not experienced enough, Harry. It isn't something which comes naturally to me like it does to you."
"What if I asked the Codex?"
"That's a start, but the book might only be able to help you a little. It is not the font of all knowledge." Severus said. "Still . . . while you speak with the book, I am going to speak with Irma and Lena. The Society may know someone with the ability, since they deal in obscure branches of magic." Or so Severus hoped.
Harry looked suddenly frightened. "Why is this happening to me, Uncle Severus? I thought . . . with Voldemort dead things would . . . go back to normal. But they're not. Instead I'm more of a freak than ever."
Severus' eyes flashed. "Harry James, you are not a freak. Never let me hear you speak like that again. You are a talented wizard and there is nothing abnormal about it."
"Uh huh. And how many of your students sleepwalk and Travel at the same time?" asked Harry pointedly.
"You are the first."
"But Harry, that is part of the Old Magic," Skull crooned, flying over and preening the agitated teen's hair. "You were born that way. Like Sev. And Lena and Irma."
Harry bit his lip. "Sometimes I wish I wasn't."
"There's no sense in wishing to be other than you are," the raven said pragmatically. "That's like a cat wishing to fly like a bird. The talent is within you and now you must learn how to live with it."
"That's so bloody helpful, Skull!" Harry snapped.
"Language, Harry James," Severus reprimanded.
"Sorry, it just . . . slipped out." Harry swiftly apologized. "I . . . I'm afraid, Uncle Severus." That last came out a reluctant whisper.
Severus rose and came to sit beside his son. He slipped an arm about the dark-haired youngster's shoulder and said gently, "I know you are. You have a right to be. But together we will find a solution. It's not impossible."
Harry leaned his head on his guardian. Even though he was scared, Severus' presence made him feel better. He knew that Snape would move heaven and earth to help him, and he trusted the older wizard like none other. If Severus said a solution could be found, they would find it.
"Let us pay a visit to the library," suggested his professor. "It's early, but I'm sure Lena or Irma will be there." At this hour, Severus was also sure that most students would be in class or sleeping in, and therefore there was less chance of Harry being observed using the Restricted Section.
"All right." Harry agreed, standing up. Maybe the Codex would have the answers he needed.
But the ancient tome told him it held only the information it had shared with him before. I know how to awaken the power within, young wizard, but mastery is not something I am privy to. Those who created me long ago did not see fit to reveal all their secrets. Or perhaps they felt Traveling was easily learned once it was awakened.
"But it's not!" Harry cried, frustrated. He longed to slam the book closed, but knew better than to act so childishly. "Would you know of someone else that can teach me?"
No. What I know of wizards is limited to those who have used me to study. You are the first I have spoken to in centuries, and those who came before you are long gone.
Harry ground his teeth together. "Isn't there anything else you can tell me about Traveling?"
Only what is written within my pages. The book replied, sounding regretful.
Harry put his head on his hand and gazed at the book, disappointed. He had come to rely on the ancient text as having all the answers and it was upsetting to discover that it did not contain the information he sought. Why didn't those stupid ancient wizards write a handbook on how to Travel?
Meanwhile, Severus explained to Lena what had been happening and asked if she could offer any insight into Harry's Traveling ability. "If there is any reason you might know of, Lena, please share it with me."
But the blond librarian shook her head sadly. "I am not as well read in that branch as I am in the mind magics, Severus. Like you, I only learned how to Travel recently, and the only hypothesis I can come up with is that perhaps Harry is afraid of something subconsciously and that's why his power is responding that way."
"I have asked him if he feels anxious or frightened before going to sleep, he claims not."
"Perhaps you could write to the Ravenmistress, she knows all the Society members, both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. We have branches in Europe and America also. If there are any who can Travel, she can find them for you. I'm sorry, Severus, that I can't be of more help to you."
"Don't apologize. You cannot be expected to know everything. I shall start giving him Dreamless Sleep, that should ensure he does not go wandering."
"Perhaps you ought to monitor him first, Severus. Use your Legilimency and see if there is something, some memory, that is causing him to Travel. He might not even be aware of it."
"You wish me to let him sleepwalk again?"
"Yes, but not around the castle. Just . . . keep him inside your quarters and see what happens. It could be he's suffering from flashbacks from battling the revenant. Merlin knows I still have nightmares over that thing!" She shivered. "Maybe Harry does too, only his mind refuses to admit it."
Severus eyed her shrewdly. "Then you haven't been sleeping well either?"
"Not really. I am tired, but as soon as I lay down, I dream of the fiend trying to suck out my magic. I've taken Dreamless Sleep a few times, but I know my limits with that. I go to sleep early and wake feeling as if I hadn't slept at all."
"I'm experiencing much the same thing, though without the nightmares." Severus admitted. "Could this be a side-effect of the revenant almost destroying us?"
"Yes. I think. Only . . . we should have recovered by now as we weren't drained bodily, like Dumbledore."
"We could be pushing ourselves too much." Severus frowned. "Let me pen a letter to the Ravenmistress."
Once he had done so, he sent it off with Skull, praying that the lady would have an answer for him.
It was a disappointed Harry who attended Transfiguration that afternoon. They were reviewing for their final exam and after the initial questions from the class, McGonagall allowed them to break up into small groups of four and five to help each other review. Harry quickly formed their usual study group, consisting of Hermione, Neville, Ron, and Draco. As he pulled out his notebook, Ron poked him in the shoulder and whispered, "So . . . how did it go last night?"
"Not good," Harry frowned, recalling that Ron didn't know about the latest episode.
His friend's eyebrows rose. "It happened again?"
"What happened again?" asked Hermione curiously.
Harry sighed, debating on whether or not to tell about his problem. Finally he supposed he might as well, since Hermione would only haunt him till he did, and Draco also was looking puzzled. The Slytherin would probably be insulted if he learned Harry had confided in the other two boys and not him. Ron was looking at him questioningly.
Because he didn't want the rest of the class listening in, Harry tore off a sheet of parchment and wrote down the sleepwalking problem, then he passed it to Hermione, who read it and passed it to Draco. Both of them looked rather shocked.
"Harry, that's awful!" Hermione exclaimed softly. "Do you know what's causing it?"
"That we'll figure it out."
"Maybe it's some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," Hermione speculated.
"Say what?" Ron looked at her as if she were speaking Russian. "What's that in English?"
"It's when you experience anxiety and flashbacks from being in combat," she explained. "Harry fought the revenant. That's enough to give anybody nightmares."
"But I'm not having nightmares," Harry scowled.
"That you can remember," Draco pointed out. "Does it seem like you have to go somewhere in your dream?"
Harry shook his head rapidly. "No. I fall asleep and then I just . . .sleepwalk."
"Maybe you should see a psychiatrist," suggested Hermione.
"I'm not crazy!"
"They're called Mind Healers in the wizarding world," Draco corrected her.
"I don't care what they're called, I'm not going to one," Harry growled. That would be all he needed, for people to think he was going round the bend.
"But Harry, maybe one could help you. They might be able to hypnotize you or something," Hermione persisted.
"I said no!" Harry snarled, not realizing his voice had risen sharply.
The rest of the class turned to stare at him and McGonagall came over, frowning. "Is there a reason, Mr. Potter, that you are yelling during class? Because you are disrupting others from studying and I'm going to ask you once to lower your voice."
"Sorry, professor. I was just . . . err . . . disagreeing with Hermione," Harry replied, going slightly red.
"Do so without shouting then, or else I shall take points and give you a detention for causing a disturbance," she ordered frostily.
"Yes, ma'am. It won't happen again," he murmured. Merlin help him if he got a detention now! Severus would throttle him.
"Way to go, Granger," Draco snorted, miming applause.
"I was only trying to help," she said, looking contrite. "A friend of my cousin's . . ."
"Forget it. Let's try and study the properties of turning a matchbox into a mouse," Harry said. That was better than discussing his stupid problem any day.
"How many times counterclockwise do you move your wand again?" asked Neville.
"Two," Draco and Hermione replied together.
Ron rolled his eyes. "Merlin's pants!"
Somehow Harry managed to get through the rest of the day without biting anyone's head off. Severus had sent a note round to Minerva stating that Harry would be sleeping down in his quarters until the issue with the sleepwalking had been resolved. That suited both Gryffindors fine, Minerva because she was relieved to not have to worry about Harry falling to his death off the tower and Harry because then none of his Housemates could watch him make an ass out of himself.
Harry quickly did his homework before getting ready for bed. He waited for Severus to give him the Dreamless Sleep, but Severus was grading and did not mention it. Finally, when it was almost nine thirty, Harry tapped the Potions Master on the shoulder. "Uncle Sev, aren't you going to give me some Dreamless Sleep?"
Severus looked up. "Not tonight. I wish to conduct a sort of experiment. I want to see if you sleepwalk while you are down in the dungeons. I will be monitoring you closely and so will Skullduggery, you won't be able to leave the room, but I wish to see if there is an inner influence driving you."
"I do not know, hence the experiment." Severus said. "Go and get ready for bed as usual."
Harry did, but then perversely, he couldn't fall asleep. He read several chapters of The Hobbit before he finally started to doze off.
Skull flew in to see if Harry was asleep and reported back to Severus that the boy was finally out.
Severus came in then and sat beside Harry, letting the boy go deeper into the sleep state before he gently rested his wand on Harry's temple and whispered, "Legilimens."
He slipped into Harry's mind like a wraith, gently skimming the first layers, which were blanketed with sleep. He moved downward, searching for any memory that might be frightening or disturbing, but found nothing particularly noteworthy. He found flashes of Harry's worry over the sleepwalking, some irritation at Hermione, and a single flicker of dread accompanied by Marlene's face, but that was all.
"Well?" Skull hissed.
"Nothing. He's not being plagued by guilt or nightmares that I can tell."
"He's not trying to access the Place Between Worlds either," the raven told him.
"So we wait. I need to finish graing my third years. Keep watch for me, Skull." Severus ordered, rising.
"Of course, sensei," Skull gave him a half-bow. "I will call if something happens."
An hour later, Skull flew into Snape's living room and cawed in the professor's ear, "Sev! He's doing it again. Hurry!"
The raven vanished, gone between worlds to keep an eye on Harry.
Severus turned when he heard the quiet footsteps and saw Harry walking towards him, a vacant expression on his face. His eyes were open, but unseeing. Severus felt a slight shiver go through him, for that blank stare was unnerving on the boy, who hours before had been vividly alert and aware. It was like watching a doppelganger or automaton shambling towards him.
Severus carefully blocked the boy's path, he appeared to be heading towards the door, and performed Legilimency again, only to withdraw almost immediately. "Idiot!" he snarled at himself. "Of course you can't get a reading . . . his spirit is no longer in his body."
Harry suddenly pushed past him and bumped up against the closed door. He went to open it, but the door was securely locked. Making odd muttering sounds, Harry started to bang on the door.
At that instant, Skull reappeared in a cloud of black feathers. "Sev, he's trying to get out and go by the lake, don't ask me why. He keeps wanting to walk by the water."
"Is there anything following him?"
"No. Do you want me to try and get him back in his body?"
"Will it wake him?"
"Hmm . . . not really. His mind's still partially asleep, so . . ."
Skull disappeared again.
Severus could tell when the raven had managed to make the sleeping Harry return to his body.
Harry stopped banging on the door and stood quietly, blinking.
Severus, acting on instinct, grabbed the boy by the shoulders and turned him about. "Harry, go back to bed. Go back to bed, Harry." He gave the boy a gentle shove to get him moving in the right direction.
Harry started walking. He walked right back into his room and got in bed. By the time Severus arrived, Harry was snoring.
"He's asleep! Just like that," muttered the Potions Master.
Skull popped back in. "Safe and sound, Sev."
"But we are no closer to discovering the reason why," sighed the wizard.
"Can't win 'em all, Snape. Hopefully the Ravenmistress will find someone who can explain it." The raven cawed.
Severus nodded wearily. Perhaps whoever she found would also be able to explain this strange fatigue he kept experiencing. He headed into his bedroom, knowing that Skull would watch Harry during the night.
Three days later, Severus received a reply from the Ravenmistress about his request. Her raven delivered the missive promptly, took the dead mouse she preferred, and went to find Skullduggery.
Severus quickly broke the seal on the envelope and read the letter rapidly.
Dear Potions Master Snape,
Since receiving your letter, I have done my utmost to find a teacher for your apprentice. In a fortunate coincidence, one of our brethren from across the pond has come to visit the castle, he is an old friend of mine and happens to be one of the most respected and powerful members of the Society in America. He also happens to be a shaman and as such, knows well the ways of astral Traveling. His people, for he is half-Native American, have nurtured that particular gift for time out of mind, and has agreed to meet with you and teach Harry how to control his powers. He goes by the name Darren "Ghost Walker"MacKenzie, and will meet you outside the gates of Hogwarts tomorrow morning, as he wishes to finish his research on an important artifact before committing himself to you. I am sure you shall get along splendidly.
Best of luck,
Severus relaxed then. This was more than he had hoped for. That the Ravenmistress might have found someone with some knowledge of Traveling yes, but this MacKenzie fellow sounded like an expert and seemed willing to stay the summer and make sure Harry was properly trained. There was only two weeks left in the semester, then they would go home to his cottage on Moorshead. He would send Prissy over first to get the house ready for them, ensuring their guest's comfort as well as their own. Moorshead was situated on the border of Scotland and England, it was where his father's family came from, and Severus had inherited the cottage upon the death of his Muggle uncle, George Snape, who had died childless. Severus was the last male Snape alive, there had been an aunt, Clarissa, but she had moved to New York and married a businessman, so the cottage belonged to him free and clear.
The cottage, ironically, was christened Ravenhold, for the many ravens that nested in the woods about the area, and Severus considered it his refuge. Skullduggery was a common sight there, the locals all knew he kept a tame raven, and so were not shocked that the bird talked. Severus maintained a cordial relationship with his neighbors, for nothing drew suspicion faster than being reclusive in those parts, but the Muggles knew him as a chemistry professor at an expensive boarding school in Scotland, one who was away most of the year.
He wondered what they would think of him suddenly acquiring a ward and a houseguest for the summer; not that it mattered, but Severus liked to be prepared for anything. Thank goodness his neighbors were not prone to gossip, though there would be talk in the village for a bit about the solitary professor finally getting some company. Setting the letter down, he sipped his cup of tea, then sent for Skull to find Harry.
If not for Severus dosing him with Dreamless Sleep, Harry knew he would have hardly slept a wink that night. He was on fire with curiosity to meet this other wizard, one who could teach him about Traveling and who was also from America besides. Severus had told Harry he was half-Indian, and all Harry knew about Indians was from watching the telly at the Dursleys. He wondered if the man wore paint and buckskins, or feathers in his hair. Did American wizards wear robes? He pictured an old man, white haired and wearing buffalo robes like the elders did in the American Westerns he'd seen, kind of like the Headmaster but with braids and no beard. He hoped this teacher would get on well with him and with Severus, who had told him the shaman would be spending the summer with them, if necessary.
Harry was up almost at first light, impatiently waiting for Severus. He was dressed in his uniform and Severus had to mock threaten to Stick him to the chair before he would sit down and eat breakfast. He kept glancing at the mantle clock, as if fearing to be late, until Severus said exasperatedly, "Harry, Mr. MacKenzie won't be meeting us until nine, we have plenty of time to get there, as it's only eight thirty. Now finish eating, you know how I feel about you skipping meals."
Harry obeyed, but barely ate half his food. He wanted to scream because Severus seemed to be taking an endless time eating his egg and cheese sandwich and drinking his coffee.
Finally, they were ready. Harry half-trotted to keep up with Severus' longer strides down the path. Skull flew overhead, idly circling on the updrafts. They passed Hagrid's hut and continued down and around the lawn to the wrought iron gates.
Just beyond the gates stood a tall man with dark hair that hung past his shoulders. He was lean and rangy, wearing a dark blue shirt decorated with white fringe across the back tucked into blue jeans. Knee-high moccasins completed the outfit.
As Severus and Harry approached, the professor gestured and the gates swung open.
The man turned to face them.
He was not old, as Harry had expected, but looked to be a little older than Severus, his skin was tanned from wind and weather, and he had a single braid with a white feather in it hanging from his right side. He had high cheekbones and penetrating aqua eyes. A friendly smile curled up his mouth. "Hello. You must be Potions Master Snape. Pleased to meet you." He held out a long-fingered hand.
Severus shook it firmly. "Severus. And this is my ward, Harry Potter."
"Hello, sir," Harry said, smiling tentatively.
"Hello, Harry. My name is Darren "Ghost Walker" McKenzie, but you can just call me Ghost. I'm a shaman of Windfar, from South Dakota." He clasped Harry's hand gently. "And who is this fine fellow?" he indicated Skullduggery, who was now perched upon Severus' shoulder.
"Skullduggery, Greater Tower raven, and Sev's familiar, at your service," the raven answered, giving Ghost a friendly nod.
Before Ghost could say anything more, there came a loud squawk and a large white shape shot down from the sky to land on the shaman's outstretched arm. The white raven eyed the two wizards and Skullduggery curiously with gold eyes. "And this is Shriek, my familiar and manitou."
"What's a manitou?" Harry asked.
"Spirit guide in Mesquakie, the language of my people," Ghost replied.
"Welcome to Hogwarts, both of you," Severus said, and he beckoned the two through the gates.
A/N: Well, here's another chapter! Thanks to everyone who is still reading and reviewing, I look forward to hearing from you. What do you think of Harry's new teacher so far?
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