Chapter 3 : Disruptive
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His mental musings were interrupted as his attentions were called upon by the maniacal laughter of his two least favorite students. Fred & George Weasley stumbled into the hall laughing like a pair of court jesters while pushing each other around like a bunch of buffoons. As the older Weasley with the Prefect badge, scolded them and encouraged them to settle themselves into the long Gryffindor table, he could not help but notice that there were two people missing from the table.
Where in Merlin's name was Mr. Potter and the youngest Mr. Weasley? The other members of the Weasley family did not seem concerned about the absence of the two of them so maybe there was nothing to it. Still, he could not seem to quiet the nagging voice in the back of his mind that was telling him that something was not right.
Once everyone was seated and Professor McGonagall was preparing to lead the new batch of first years in to be sorted, Snape noticed Argus Filtch rushing past the first year students that were nervously waiting to be escorted to the front of the hall. Without pausing, the old man ran straight up to the front of the room and scurried behind the head table until he was right behind Snape.
Leaning back the man whispered furiously into his ear, Snape could feel his face heating up. Someone had crashed into the Whomping Williow out on the grouds. He didn't need to think long to guess who it was responsible for such an outrageous stunt! Maybe it had not been such a good idea entrusting the Weasley's with Harry, since they obviously let their children run completely wild!
Gathering himself and slipping away from the table, Snape hurried out onto the darkened grounds to investigate further. Unsure of what he would find, and what condition he would find the two missing hooligans he was shocked to realize that his stomach felt like it was all knotted up causing him to feel a little nauseous. He tried telling himself that it was merely a result of his hunger and had absolutely nothing to do with worry or concern for the boy.
Harry sat in the office fearfully awaiting for Professor Snape to return. He had sent Ron ahead claiming that he needed to talk with Snape about his relatives. Ron had looked at him as if he were a complete nutter, but Harry didn't care.
He felt horrible. He was not sure if he had misread the expression on Professor Snape's face as he scolded them, but he had not been able to keep from feeling as though he had disappointed the man. Plus the threat of being expelled and sent home to his relatives house was a frightening enough of a threat, that he felt that he needed to try to apologize directly to him in hopes of expelling those threats from his mind.
While he & Ron hurriedly ate the cold sandwiches they had been given he had not been able to get the vision of those dark eyes that had stared at him accusingly while Professor McGonagall had been scolding him. He wasn't sure how the potions master would react to finding Harry still here waiting for him to return, but he knew that trying to talk with him was the right thing to do. Thankfully, Harry did not have to wait long for his teacher to return.
When the office door flung open and Professor Snape glided into the room he had been so involved in his own thoughts that he didn't see Harry sitting there right away. When he finally looked up and realized that he was not alone, his face hardened and the anger returned to his eyes.
"Don't you have someplace that you are supposed to be, Potter," he spat.
Taking a deep breath, Harry rushed to speak, "Yes, sir. I wanted to talk to you before heading up to bed sir. I..uh..well…I never had the chance to thank you for coming to get me from the Dursleys'. I also wanted to tell you that I really am sorry about the car and that tree. I know how angry you are and that you still probably want to send me back to the Dursleys' and..well…I really can't go back there, sir. I'll do anything to avoid ever going back there," he finished in a muffled ramble.
Professor Snape stared at him with what he guessed was shock for several long minutes before taking a deep breath and speaking in his quiet, low tone, "Do you realize how lucky you and Mr. Weasley are to not have been killed or seriously injured by your little stunt?"
Harry was someone surprised by this question. He nodded slowly as he thought to himself about how neither Professors Dumbledore nor McGonagall had expressed such a concern for their safety. They had seemed more upset that they had broken the laws and damaged the tree.
Snape rolled his eyes and said as if he could tell what Harry had been thinking, "I suppose Mr. Weasley will be in enough trouble with his father once the ministry is finished with their investigation. I don't suppose that thought ever crossed either of your minds."
"No sir," Harry mumbled feeling even worse. After they had been kind enough to take him in and care for him when no one else would, he had gone and made things worse for them. He felt like he wanted the floor to just open up and swallow him whole.
As he sat worried about the trouble he caused to his friends' family, a question that had been bothering him since that morning sprang to his mind. "Sir…Do you know why the barrier did not open for us?"
Snape furrowed his brow and said, "I can not say, Mr. Potter. I admit that I have not ever heard of such a thing happening to a student before. I must admit that the fact that you were that student must be taken into account."
"Heh. Great," Harry muttered.
"I will suggest, that perhaps in the future you take care to use that feeble brain of yours before rushing off on some idiotic plan that could result in your untimely death or dismemberment?" he sneered.
"I didn't know what else to do," Harry said quietly. "I just knew that I had to get to school."
"Well I know that Professor McGonagall already pointed out to you that you could have easily sent an owl to the school asking for help," Snape replied snarkily.
"Well excuse me, but I've never had anyone that I have been able to ask for help from before so it wasn't something that I ever considered," he said with an injured tone.
Expecting to be yelled at for his outburst, Harry stared at the floor waiting. After several long minutes of silence Harry risked a glance back up and noticed that Professor Snape was staring at him with a peculiar look on his face. Determined not to get himself into any more trouble, he kept his mouth shut and continued waiting for his teacher to say something. Anything even.
Finally Snape cleared his throat and said, "Fair enough, Potter. May I ask, however, why it never occurred to you to ask Professor McGonagall for help? She is your head of house is she not?"
With a shrug Harry said, "She is always so busy, sir. And I guess I thought that she would have been angry with us for being a bother."
"Hm." Snape continued staring at him with that strange look and then said, "Well…I suppose you could always try asking myself if you ever found yourself in such a situation again in the future."
Now it was Harry's turn to stare at him. "Really sir?"
"In the event that there is no one else that you feel you can approach…yes. I'm am sure that you are familiar with the phase, 'The only stupid question is the one not asked'?" Harry nodded. "Very well then. Keep that in mind then and all will be well."
Harry's mind was reeling. Was Professor Snape being nice to him? Did he really just offer to help him if he needed it? He could not help but wonder what it was that brought about this change in him. Is it possible that he could have been wrong about him last year?
"I trust that you were able to complete your summer assignments?" Snape said cutting into Harry's musings.
"Oh yes sir. Although I am afraid that I may have to have Hermione look over my potions essay before I turn it in. I was a bit confused on a few things," he said surprising himself at his honesty. Was he going to get into trouble for admitting to having Hermione look over his paper?
Snape started to say something and then stopped himself. Instead he said, "Yes, well I suppose I can trust enough in your young friend to not be giving away answers or completing the assignment for you. However, if you find that her assistance is not enough to answer your questions I suggest you re-examine your notes from last year or come find me. We will be building on what you learned last year so if you are unable to grasp those concepts you will find yourself considerably lost from here on out."
"Yes, sir." Harry said as he stood to leave. "Thank you, sir."
"Hmpf," was the only reply as Harry hurried out of the office and up to Gryffindor tower.
The next morning at breakfast as the echoes of Weasley's howler died away and the laughter and chatter resumed Snape found himself to be vaguely amused which was quite different to what he had been feeling the previous night.
He had been taken aback by the sight of Harry sitting in his office waiting for him after the feast, but was even more surprised by his reasons for being there. The boy had not only thanked him for getting him away from his relatives house, but had unnecessarily apologized to him and very nearly pleaded to be allowed to never have to return there again. What had gotten into that boy's head?
He had to admit that he was quite curious as to the reasons behind the platform closing up on him, however. He was certain that he had been skeptical when he had first heard the weak excuse that the pair of them had offered up to the headmaster, but after taking a brief peek into the boys mind he felt secure in the boys' story. So much as that after Harry had left his office, Snape had contacted an acquaintance at the Ministry of Magic who tried to do some research on the train platforms in hopes of finding reports of incidents similar to Harry's. Unfortunately he had only been able to find cases of the various passages sealing themselves to prevent muggles from stumbling through. It was definitely something that he was going to file away and keep a close notice on in the future.
"Heads up, Severus," McGonagall growled in his ear from next to him. "Lockhart is headed this way."
Snape snapped his head up just in time to see the lavender clad wizard smiling down at the both of them. Thinking quick, Snape jumped up and spun around to make his way out of the hall.
"Severus my friend," Lockhart exclaimed, "I understand that you were most disturbed about the whomping willow that was damaged last night. Well," he continued without waiting for an answer, "allow me to reassure you that I will be meeting with Paloma after breakfast to assist her in how to properly nurse the poor thing back to health. You are most welcome to join us."
Snape smiled coldly. "I assure you, I have other issues that require my attentions this morning. But I'm sure that Madam Sprout will be more than happy to have your assistance."
From the table next to where he had just been sitting, Professor McGonagall began coughing to cover up her laughter as Professor Lockhart walked away presumably to locate the herbology teacher.
"I am sure that Sprout will be more than happy to let loose one of her tentacula plants on you for encouraging him, Severus," McGonagall croaked through her smothered laughter. "What did that poor woman ever do to you?"
"I assure you I have nothing against her, Minerva. She is just an unfortunate casualty in the battle to avoid the moron's senseless ramblings and ridiculous delusions of inflated self-importance," Snape insisted. "What in the world was Albus thinking, inflicting this irritating imbecile on us?"
McGonagall shrugged her shoulders and said, "Merlin knows. I have a feeling it is going to be a very long year."
Snape was in quite a foul mood as he made his way to the headmaster's office. This first week of classes had been far more exasperating than usual for him. The dramatic arrival of Potter in that damned flying car had only been the beginning of his mounting frustrations.
The very next day, Snape had been graced with a visit from the one and only Lucius Malfoy who all but demanded that his son Draco be given a position on the house Quidditch team. Try-outs were to be held at the end of the week, but that was not good enough for the overbearing father. Instead he insisted on buying his son's way onto the team by purchasing the latest Nimbus brand broom for the entire team. Naturally it was an offer that Snape could not have turned down, but he was not happy about the whole thing.
Over the years, Snape had insisted upon allowing only the absolute best players to participate in the sport to assure their continued dominance of the game. Of all of the houses in the school, the Slytherin team auditions were the most vigorous and elite. It was well known that holding a position on the Slytherin Quidditch team meant that you were truly the best of the rest.
When he had informed his captain, Marcus Flint about the gift from Draco's father, he had been equally as worried about what kind of seeker Draco would be in comparison to their previous seeker Terence Higgs, who would have to be booted from the team to allow Draco to assume the position. However, Mr. Flint was well aware of the significance of the gift to the team and was also very well schooled in the ways of money and power, so he had known what needed to be done. He had taken great care to assure Snape that he would train harder with the other team members to try to cover down and take up the slack wherever Draco might end up lacking.
When Lucius had left his office, Snape was disturbed to realize that the visit had seriously left him on edge. He was, for the most part, on relatively good terms with the Malfoy family despite, or maybe because of, their shared previous connection to the Dark Lord, but Snape was always wary of Lucius. He was a very calculating and sly sort of man who was always on the lookout for ways to get ahead and stand out from his peers. Unfortunately this led to an extraordinary amount of pressure being put upon his only son, whom Snape suspected had great difficulties trying to live up to the idealistic image that his father carried of him in his mind. This unfair pressure placed upon Draco weighed so heavily upon him that Snape reminding him of his own father, causing Snape to do what he could to help push the boy in the direction needed to satisfy Lucius.
After the arrival of Lucius and the gift of the brooms, Snape had been forced to endure the almost constant harassment from his biggest Quidditch rival, and coworker Minerva McGonagall. She insisted that the gift of the brooms was unethical to have accepted and had even tried taking the issue to the headmaster. Thankfully the headmaster had sided with Snape in saying that no rules had been broken. He had managed to placate McGonagall, however, by implying that whatever advantage may be gained by the use of the brooms would not prove to be impossible to overcome by more talented members from members of the other houses.
Disgusted by the memory Snape mumbled to password and stormed past the gargoyle. The old man had better have a very good reason for summoning him tonight since he wanted to do nothing more than to retire to his quarters and sleep for the next day or so. So naturally it would be the one thing that he would be unable to do.
"Ah, Severus. So glad you could make it," Dumbledore said upon Snape's entry into his office.
"Did I have a choice?" Snape scoffed.
Dumbledore chuckled. "Of course. We always have a choice."
Snape decided to ignore him and wait for him to get to his objective in requesting his presence. Thankfully it was not a long wait.
"I think we may have a problem with Harry," Dumbledore began sadly.
Much to Snape's annoyance, this definitely caught his attention and created feelings of concern and alarm that he was most unaccustomed to experiencing. Doing his best to hide these bizarre feelings from the headmaster for fear of them being interpreted as caring for the boy Snape huffed and said, "Now what has he done?"
"I just paid Gilderoy a visit to see how Harry's detention went and was astonished to learn that there were some concerns about the possibility of Harry hearing voices," Dumbledore explained quietly.
"This is precisely why I should have been allowed to handle Potter's detention! Surely you cannot believe anything that blithering idiot says," Snape snapped angrily.
"Well then you will be happy to know that Gilderoy technically did not say anything to me about this event," Dumbledore said with a small smile.
"Occlemency," Snape said with understanding as he shook his head. "That is one brain that I would like to never get a glimpse into," he muttered.
Unfortunately Snape was very much aware that Dumbledore's intrusion into the dimwitted fool's mind solidified the seriousness of the incident. Of course there was no reason that Snape should care about this. So the boy was off his rocker. It was not completely shocking considering the events of his life, he supposed.
"So I am assuming," Snape mused, "your need to inform me of this situation would suggest that you expect me to do something about it?"
"On the contrary," Dumbledore said. "I merely wish to keep you informed so that you will be able to help keep a closer eye on him. Do not say anything to him yet. We must give him the chance to be able to deal with these kinds of things on his own."
"Do you have any theories about what this means for the boy?" Snape inquired, grateful that he was not being asked to interfere in the boy's life further than he had already been made to.
Dumbledore adjusted the glasses on his nose and stared down at his desk. "Not yet. It may very well have been nothing more than a reaction to something as insignificant as lack of sleep."
"You do not believe that," Snape surmised. "If you did, I would be in my quarters sipping on my tea preparing to crawl into bed."
Dumbledore smiled warmly. "I often forget how intuitive you are, Severus. You are right of course. I am concerned that there is more to this than either of us realize, although I hope for his sake I am mistaken. I only wish I knew more."
"I have made it clear to the boy that he should not have any fears about asking for assistance when needed. Whether or not he will adhere to that advice is not yet determined," Snape said quietly.
"Interesting," Dumbledore commented quietly. "And did you give him any guidance as to whom he should be asking for assistance?"
"Whomever he can find," he replied in a growl. "Is there anything else that you need from me? I do wish to get to sleep sometime tonight."
"I have nothing else," the headmaster said with a knowing smile. "Do try to enjoy the rest of your evening."
"Hmpf," Snape muttered to himself as he hurried out of the office.
The truth of the matter was that Snape knew that he would not be getting any quality rest tonight. The perplexing issue that Dumbledore had laid at his feet would definitely not be permitting him to be sleep tonight.
On his way back to his quarters he decided that a brief detour to the library would be necessary. After assuring Madam Pince that he would close everything up behind him, he searched the shelves for anything that could be used to assist him in solving this newest mystery. Unfortunately he was most unsure of where he even was supposed to start looking. After exhausting himself looking for everything from muggle illnesses and case studies on abuse to curse side effects and magical maladies he finally gave up realizing that he was not going to find an easy answer to this one.
He spent the rest of the night trying to reason with himself and convince himself that his concern was nothing more than the challenge of having an unsolved mystery taunting him and not that he was worried in anyway for the boy's health and well-being. He nearly threw his cup of tea across the room as he realized that he may have made a fatal error in allowing the boy to get into his head. He was never going to be able to have any time to relax as long as this ridiculous child was destined to continue on this path of self-destruction.
As he finally drifted off into a restless sleep, he could not help but wonder if all children were this disconcerting and if they were, what in the world would prompt parents to willingly continue trying to bring more of the little demons into existence. He supposed he would never understand the need for such attachments nor why he suddenly felt lonelier than he had in a very long time.
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