Disclaimer: Do not own Harry Potter ::sob:: JKR does. Wish I did, though! I'd give Draco back...honestly! Don't look at me like that, I would give him back, I swear!
A/N: Oh My God. I just saw the Harry Potter movie. And, in the words of Ron: "That was bloody brilliant." Everyone must go see it!!! I got to the advance previews, but when it comes out on the 16th on general release, you must all get tickets for it or die trying!
Summary: The final battle is approaching, and no one is under any illusions. This is, and always was, Harry Potter's fight. While he himself tries to prepare for what lies ahead, treated as though the fight is already lost, difficulties occur in the form of Draco Malfoy. Death Eater, spy of Voldemort, or the greatest love he'll ever have?
A Harry Potter Fanfiction
By Knowing Shadows
It was pitch black in the dorm, the round room filled with the slight moans as one boy tossed and turned in his bed, gripped in a nightmare. None of the other Gryffindors were disturbed, sleeping peacefully in their own beds.
By the bed of the uneasily resting boy sat another figure, slumped, exhausted. Unable to sleep himself for the groans of the boy caught in his dreams, and for the fact that he could smell the fear strongly, he had come to sit by the boy, to wait out the course of his dream.
Of all the things Harry Potter had, it had never been nightmares. Sirius had never told him that his godson suffered from them. He hoped this wasn't a normal occurrence, for nightmares as strong as these could drive a person insane.
Remus ran a hand through his hair, eyelids drooping as he watched Harry kick out at nothing under his bedclothes. He and Sirius were sharing a small room off the Gryffindor 7th year dorm room, and he had left his friend behind to come here. Light would come in just a few hours, and he could already scent the retreating darkness, receding to the murky September day. It would rain again.
It would feel strange, being back at Hogwarts as a teacher. He had thought that after that last incidence he would have been ruined. But no, yet again Dumbledore had hired him, after two accidents with Snape. He wondered how much resistance Severus had put up when Dumbledore had informed him who would be put in the vacant teaching spot. He'd probably threatened to resign.
He had expressed this worry to Dumbledore, who had only smiled, eyes twinkling, and said, "Severus Snape's job has a special twist this year." He had not elaborated, but Remus was not stupid. He could guess it had something to do with Voldemort. He had to admit it, Severus commanded respect. He was most likely spying in some form, and that had to be extremely dangerous: Remus didn't know if he'd have had the courage to step into Snape's shoes right now.
Dangerous times we live in, he thought, gaze tracing the angry red scar across Harry's forehead. He didn't think he wanted to be in Harry's place either. Not with Voldemort after him. He had as much fear for He Who Must Not Be Named as anyone else, if not more.
He could feel it, more now than ever. It clawed at his mind when he was alone. Maybe trying to drive him mad. But whatever it was doing, it was still there. The wolf. Just below the surface, waiting. It had sensed the flowing of Dark Magic in the air, just as he had. Wanting to follow it.
Once Voldemort had offered, it hadn't taken the Dementors long to leave Azkaban for the Dark. It had been, for him, the scariest moment of Voldemort's rise. If the Dementors left their side, would the wolf, the Dark in him, force him to do the same?
It wasn't until warm hands slid up his arms to his shoulders did he realise he was trembling. He shivered at the sudden warmth, and leaned back against a solid chest. "You think too much," a quiet voice murmured against his ear. "Stop looking so worried."
Remus frowned, seeing that Harry seemed to have slipped into safer dreams. "I couldn't sleep."
The hands slid along his shoulders, making him tremble as they touched the slender scars beneath his cloak. Maybe it was the wolf part of him that made them sensitive, but it wasn't his choice that a certain person managed to use them to make his whole body melt.
"Don't you have lessons to teach today, Rem'? Don't you need sleep to be able to teach?" Sirius asked softly. "You've been up all night."
"I noticed you were gone for a bit," Remus replied, the sharpness of his tone dulled by exhaustion, but he knew Sirius heard it. He could feel it. "When Harry was gone."
"Playing the jealous lover, are we now?" Sirius murmured, not moving from his position at Remus' back. He loved to push his friend like this, knowing it was dangerous, but revelling in it all the same.
"I am not your lover," Remus hissed, tensing beneath his friend's large hands. "You seem to have forgotten that."
Sirius' hands stilled and the black-haired man let out a soft sigh. "And to think I thought you'd be pleased to have me back."
"I would be better pleased if you didn't act like the last god-knows-how-many-years haven't happened," Remus replied, standing and heading back to the room they were sharing. Sirius stared dumbly after him, trying to work out what he meant, before making sure Harry was still asleep and then following. He felt a little guilty. Remus was obviously upset about something.
When he softly closed the door to their room, Remus was climbing into bed, pulling the covers over him and facing the wall, away from Sirius and his own bed. Sirius watched him do this in silence, before saying, "You mean...the years after Lilly and James died."
"What did you think I meant?" Remus snapped, voice muffled by the duvet.
"What did you mean by saying I act as if they never happened?" Sirius persevered, staying in his place by the door. Remus was usually the quiet, studious person, but when he got upset, he got upset. An unhappy Remus was not a good Remus. Sirius decided staying by the exit would increase his chances of living with his body intact if he accidentally got Remus worked up a bit too much and he lost control.
Sirius jumped when the brown-haired professor sat bolt upright, glaring across the room at him. "You know very well what I mean, Sirius. You just expect things to go back to being the way they were, and I cannot deal with that right now!"
"The way things were?" Sirius echoed, sensing the tension. "With...us?"
"Again, what did you think I meant?" Remus ran a nervous hand through his hair, looking away from Sirius at last. He drew his knees up to his chest, and pulled a strand of grey hair in front of his eyes. "Do you know how I got this?" he asked. "Worrying about you, Sirius. Worrying about what was happening to you in Azkaban. Worrying about how I never saw you being the traitor. I became a teacher because of that! I wanted to make people see the signs, be able to fight them, so they wouldn't go through the same things I did. To spot when wizards started going bad. And then I found out you were innocent! Twelve years spent thinking I could have saved James and Lilly, twelve years spent loathing myself for the fact I let you...I let you violate me." He was babbling now, voice rising and rising. "I let you sleep in my bed! I let you touch me! And, as far as I was concerned, you betrayed us!"
"And then you realised it wasn't me," Sirius said gently. "And you beat yourself up over nothing."
"Oh no...never nothing," was the hushed reply. "It got worse. I was supposed to be teaching people against this sort of thing, but I hadn't even known who'd really done it until then! And then I beat myself up for what I thought was a betrayal of you. How could I have thought you had done it? You were James' closest friend, how could you have done it? And I realised how utterly stupid I was, and my hair just started growing grey hairs even faster."
"And now you think...you think I want us to go back to being lovers? You think I want to ignore Azkaban and everything afterwards." Sirius shook his head, understanding dawning. He stepped slowly towards Remus, eyes following the werewolf's every move as he approached. Remus didn't watch him coming, but Sirius knew Remus didn't have to use his eyes to follow him.
"Don't you?" Remus murmured, shrugging slightly as he calmed down.
Sirius eased himself onto the edge of the bed, and Remus averted his eyes towards the wall so as not to look towards the taller man. "You really think I'm that selfish?"
Lupin shrugged again. "I don't know what to think anymore."
"I would never, ever push you into something you didn't want," Sirius assured him softly, reaching out one hand and letting his fingers trail gently down one smooth cheek. "I told you that all those years ago, when we first started out, remember? I never forced you into anything, and I won't force you into anything now. If you want us to be like we were, then let me know. I'm always here." His fingers slid down to Remus' chin, and he pulled his friend's face round to his. Remus' eyes searched his for a moment as Sirius leaned forward and pressed his lips to the other man's, fleetingly, before pulling back. "I never stopped loving you," Sirius whispered. He saw Remus' eyes widen slightly, and he smiled, before getting up and sliding into his own bed, settling down for a few hours sleep before he had to get up again.
Lupin did not sleep at all that night.
The lake was freezing. Of course, one would expect that, it being the dead of night and all, and in autumn. The water was like liquid ice against his legs, numbing them mercilessly as he waded out from the shore towards the terrible blackness that started where the rock abruptly cut off and the water deepened.
Harry stared down over the rock ledge, trying to see down into the depths of the water. His robes swirled around his legs with the gentle lapping of the water itself, sticking to his frozen skin. He was in the lake up to his waist already, and could only feel his body from above the water level.
Something told him he needed to get into the deep water. It was pulling him, calling to him, like a song or melody he knew down in his heart, an old lullaby. He needed to get away from the shore, away from the land, into the water. Deeper into the water...
"Don't, Harry." He froze where he was, eyes wide as the voice drifted to his ears. No, it couldn't be true...it was all going to end now. Right here. And no one could save him, because no one knew where he was.
Harry slowly turned round, belatedly reaching for his wand. He held it out, the wood shaking in his trembling grip. The hooded figure was standing on shore, one hand outstretched. He could see a wand clasped in the other hand, by the figure's side.
"Don't go further out, Harry," he whispered from beneath the hood. "Come to me."
"Never!" Harry cried, backing up one step. He was so close to the edge, another step or two backwards and he'd be there, over and beyond the rock ledge. "I will never come to you, Voldemort!"
The wizard didn't move his offered hand, or his wand arm. "It's safer here, Harry Potter. You don't think that bumbling fool Dumbledore can keep you safe forever, do you? I got you once, I will get you again. And now you have no protection against me...just a foolish notion that somehow you will defeat me in battle."
"A-And why can't I kill you?" Harry stammered. The cold wind was chilling him to the bone, making him shiver uncontrollably. "I almost have b-before."
"Your mother and her little tricks, my boy," Voldemort reminded him, but did not move all the same, "are the only things that saved you from me back then. What is here to protect you now? Nothing."
"I c-could c-curse you!" Harry exclaimed, holding out his wand and waving it a bit for effect, or what he hoped was an effect. By God, he was so cold...
"You don't have the energy or the knowledge to curse me," was the curt reply. "I am beyond you, Harry Potter. Beyond your wildest imagination. You cannot comprehend the power that I have at my disposal, and nor will you ever."
"Y-You d-don't scare m-me!" Harry cried bravely, wishing he could move, move backwards from the shore. He needed to get into the lake.
"I somehow do not think that is the truth," Voldemort said. It seemed as if it was just his voice, for his body had not moved. "But if it is, then you are a foolish, foolish boy, and I will teach you a lesson you will not forget in a hurry."
Harry backed up a step.
Voldemort moved then. His arm dropped to his side. "Don't step further, Harry."
Something clicked in Harry's head. He stared at the wizard suspiciously. "Why d-don't you want me to g-go into the lake?" he asked.
"Because you will die." Voldemort laughed, high-pitched and hysterical. "And while that would put an end to most of my problems, I wish to have a hand in your death myself. Suicide is not the way to go, Potter."
"I won't d-die," Harry said, feeling confident. He held his head high. "The lake is c-calling to me. It won't k-kill me."
"How do you know that?" Voldemort cocked his head to one side, curious.
Harry smiled, the knowledge that he would not die filling him with bliss, and he stepped backwards off the rock ledge. In an instant the freezing water had enveloped his body and he was sinking. He opened his mouth and it filled with the lake-water. He screamed, bubbles frothing from his lips. Looking up, he could see the shaky image of Voldemort looking down on him from above the water. A voice was speaking in his ears.
"You're drowning, Harry. Drowning...didn't we say you'd die...you're drowning...drowning..."
He flailed, desperately trying to get back up to the surface, but his body just kept sinking. He half-turned in the water, and tried to scream in horror. A body was tied to the rock face, chained in place. The hair waved gently in the water. The body's face was pale, far too white even in the dark, and his eyes were closed.
It was Draco Malfoy.
And then Draco's head moved. He lifted it, and sightless white eyes stared straight at Harry. His lips parted, but the voice that reached Harry's ears wasn't Draco's.
"Beware, Harry Potter. Beware. A truth, disguised as a lie, disguised as a truth."
"...drowning....drowning...you're going to die...along with him..."
He tried to scream again, closing his eyes.
His eyes flew open again, but he was not underwater. He was lying in bed in the Gryffindor dorm room, with several blurred, worried faces overhead. His scar was burning, agonisingly painful, on his forehead. He groaned and pressed a hand to it. "Huh?"
"You were having a nightmare," Ron said slowly, pulling his dressing gown tighter around him. "Well, I think you were...you just suddenly started screaming. Woke us all up."
A nightmare...so he'd been dreaming. He should have realised sooner...and what an odd dream it had been.
"Oh...sorry guys." Harry sat up slowly, the pain of his scar dulling to a horrid, aching thump in time with his heartbeat. "I had a...bad dream."
"That's an understatement," Dean Thomas said, rolling his eyes.
"You alright, though?" Seamus asked, a little nervously, as if he thought Harry was going to suddenly leap up and attack them at any moment.
"I'm fine." Harry grinned weakly. "Just a nightmare. A stupid dream."
Seamus and Dean looked at each other, then shrugged and wandered away, talking together. Ron watched them leave, and then said, "Your scar was hurting, wasn't it."
"How do you know that?" Harry asked defensively.
Ron suddenly grabbed his forehead and cried out in fake pain, an impression of Harry.
"Oh...well, yeah, it did." Harry groaned. "I dreamed about Voldemort. And about jumping into the lake."
Ron eyed him much like Seamus just had. "Sometimes I wonder about you and your mental health, Harry."
"Then you're not the only one." Harry rubbed his forehead again and shook his head in an attempt to clear it. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and blinked as he searched for his glasses so all the things that were blurry would come back into focus.
"So...what did you dream about, besides jumping into the lake?" Ron settled himself on the edge of Harry's bed, curious.
"Well...I was trying to get into the deep part of the lake, and Voldemort was trying to stop me." Harry frowned at the absurdity of it. "He said I'd drown, but the only reason he was stopping me was because he wanted to kill me himself. For some stupid reason, I thought drowning was beyond me, so I jumped in. There was...a body in the lake, chained to the rock, and it tried to speak to me. But it wasn't his voice...someone else's..."
"His? Someone we know?" Ron asked, picking up on Harry's words.
"Kind of," Harry replied. "But this voice said something like...'Beware, a truth, disguised as a lie, disguised as a truth'..."
"A truth, disguised as a lie, disguised as a truth?" Ron repeated, perplexed and uncomprehending. "I don't get it."
"Neither do I." Harry started rummaging around for his school things. It was the first day of term that day, he had remembered with an inward groan. And first lesson was Charms. "Unfortunately, my scar was hurting, which probably means it's supposed to mean something."
"Yes, exactly. Now come on, let's get dressed and down to breakfast."
After they managed to traverse the staircases (today they seemed to want to move more frequently than normal) and got into the Great Hall, Harry, Ron and Hermione saw that they were still quite early. The Hall was only half-full. They slid into their usual seats and helped themselves to cereal and toast. Hermione had brought a book with her that she was reading, and was thoroughly engrossed in that, while Harry and Ron discussed the unfairness of making them study for and take their N.E.W.T's this year, with the whole Voldemort business going on.
"We should just do Defence Against the Dark Arts," Ron was saying as he poked his cereal with a spoon.
"And if you got poisoned?" Hermione said, not looking up from her book. "You'd need Potions for that kind of thing, Ron."
"Well..." Ron had to admit it: Hermione was right, as usual. "But what if you...I dunno...just don't get poisoned?"
Hermione didn't dignify that with an answer.
First lesson was Charms, and it went with no unusual occurrences. They were learning how to control things in the air, rather than just levitating. This was difficult, as Professor Flitwick had explained, and by the end of the lesson most of the students had considerable sized lumps on their heads as heavy flying objects fell on them, out of control. The whole point of this was to actually be able to control something in mid-air, and use it to your advantage, like battling with a sword. "It will help in a struggle," he told them. Harry could feel everyone look to him, but he attempted to ignore it.
Transfiguration was the next lesson. Yet again, Professor McGonagall was their teacher, and they all wondered if it was at all possible that they could have had a different teacher for at least one year. As they had expected, it was getting more advanced in that class. The objects to be transfigured were a bit bigger than last year. Of course, like in Charms, no one managed to actually complete the Transfiguration successfully. They were supposed to be transfiguring a wooden chair in a snake. Hermione was pleased with herself at the end of the lesson, as she had managed to get her chair to be made out of snakeskin. Ron, however, wasn't too happy, as all he'd managed to do was get his chair to collapse in a heap. Professor McGonagall wasn't very happy with Ron.
Defence Against the Dark Arts was scheduled for after lunch, which filled the Gryffindors with cheer through lunch, as they knew that lesson would be fun with Professor Lupin at the helm. The news that Lupin was back had spread like wildfire, and while most of the school was on his side, the Slytherins were stoutly against the re-hiring of the werewolf. Snape said nothing for or against the behaviour of his house.
Harry could barely contain his excitement, and scoffed down his pie and pumpkin juice. Hermione looked over at him in distaste. "Honestly, Harry," she said, then went back to reading her book. It was the same one she'd had at breakfast, and she was going through it between mouthfuls of food.
Ron peered at the book in her lap, puzzled. "What is that thing you've got?" he asked. Hermione held it up and the two boys looked at the old, dark cover. It was a book they had seen before, and dread settled in their stomachs. Moste Potente Potions.
"Herm', why have you got that book again?" Ron asked. "What do you want us to go now?"
"Nothing," Hermione replied cheerfully, smiling slightly and settling the book back in her lap. "I'm going through it for reading. Professor McGonagall recommended to Snape that I read it."
Harry looked at Ron, and Ron looked at Harry. Then they both stared at Hermione. "Why?" the both asked in unison.
"Why do you think?" she asked, turning one page over and continuing reading the spidery old writing on the other side. There was an illustration of a wizard in the middle of being eaten by what looked like a horrible black blob. Ron looked at Harry in alarm.
"I think we're both lost here, 'Mione," Harry told her, glancing at Ron for support. "Do fill us in."
She sighed, as if wondering why she got lumbered with the boys with minds of young children. "For things to use against You Know Who," she said, rolling her eyes. "Isn't it obvious?"
"It is now." Ron grinned at her apologetically. She rolled her eyes again.
"What are you looking for, exactly?" Harry asked, leaning forward over the table to try and see.
Hermione shrugged. "Anything useful. Professor Snape doesn't have time to go through these."
"Probably too busy spying for You Know Who," Ron muttered darkly.
His girlfriend gave him an 'Oh really?' look. Being Head Girl, she was privy to more information than the average student, and no doubt knew something connected to Snape that they didn't. This tendency for Head Boys and Girls holding staff secrets was another reason why no one could understand why Seamus Finnigan had been appointed Head Boy. He couldn't keep a secret to save his life.
At that moment, Malfoy decided to make his entrance with Crabbe and Goyle. He swung the doors open so they banged loudly, causing everyone in the hall to look his way as he strode in and over to the Slytherin table. Harry had the sudden vision of Malfoy chained underwater, staring at him with wide, unblinking white eyes. He shuddered.
Everyone went back to their lunch. Malfoy loved attention, everyone knew that. The thing was, he knew how to get it. Harry got attention too, but he couldn't work out how to get rid of it.
When Harry and the others left their table, Malfoy was still eating. He cast Harry a dark glare and the black-haired boy ignored it, and they left the hall to make their way to the classroom for their afternoon lesson.
Most of the Gryffindors were lined up outside by the time they got there. When the beginning of the lesson was signalled, the familiar form of Professor Lupin appeared, a rather large and old looking book in his hands. Most of the Gryffindors blanched at the sight of it, except for Hermione.
On the whole, Lupin did not look much different than before. A little greyer, his robes a little newer, but other than that it was like they were back in the third year. Let in to the classroom, they filed into their seats. Harry, Ron and Hermione found some places near the front, getting out quills and such. Harry himself didn't like the look of the book, and was wondering if looking forward to this lesson was such a good idea.
"Welcome back to Defence Against the Dark Arts," Professor Lupin said as the class settled down, and smiled wearily.
"You have no idea how glad we are that Snape didn't get the job!" said Seamus from the back, and everyone laughed. Lupin's smile brightened a bit. Then he moved into his seat and folded his hands under his chin, elbows on the table. He stared hard around the classroom for a full two minutes, making most of the class nervous and expecting something like a sudden attack.
"Well," he said finally, gaze lowering to the cover of the volume on his desk in front of him. "Before we get started, I suppose, I should let you know a bit about the revised course we will be taking this year."
Harry glanced at Ron, knowing exactly what 'revised' meant in this case; 'Changed at the last minute to counter whatever Voldemort could throw at everyone'.
"As Professor Dumbledore told you all yesterday, this year will be a test for everyone, doubly so for some of you in this room." Everyone looked guiltily over at Harry, and Lupin raised a thin eyebrow, noticing it instantly. "It's no good looking at Harry, you know," he said, making most of the class snap their eyes up to him in surprise. "I'm sure a lot of you will be expected to fight this year. You are, after all, in your seventh and final year of Hogwarts. You will leave the school after this year, as fully-fledged witches and wizards. Harry's had plenty of encounters with Voldemort with much less knowledge or experience, and he was younger. I will not have any of you acting as if any lesson I teach you, you will not require, because you will, and in a real fight I will not be able to come round and help you out one by one. Is that clear?"
There was a cowed "Yes, Professor," from the class.
"Right, now we've got that straight, on to the course," Lupin said, a little more sprightly. "Since we were on the topic of Voldemort, I'm sure most of you will be guessing that we've modified the lessons to reflect the current situation of the war. What's the point of teaching you about something that you will not come across, when we can prepare you against things you will most likely face in the near future? Well, there isn't one, so you'll be taught useful things this year." He stood up and walked round to the head of the desk, picking up the old book as he went. He held it up, and the class squinted to see what it said:
"This book," Lupin said, "documents the uses of the most dangerous curses known to the wizarding world. It also lists possible defences against them. It has extensive coverage of the Unforgivable Curses. I understand that in the fourth year, you were all actually subjected to one of them?"
Neville went bright red, remembering his display of gymnastics.
"The Imperius Curse," Hermione said quietly, remembering the lesson all too well.
Lupin nodded gravely. "If any of you ever come across a Dark Wizard, it will be a battle of curses, in all likeliness, and of defences against them. Therefore most of this course is going to be dedicated to the defence against these spells, and of the art of using them." He paused significantly, giving them all another long look.
"We're...we're going to be taught how to use these?" came a very frightened voice from Parvati. Her eyes were wide in fear. The class dissolved into hushed, fearful whisperings. Lupin waited for a minute, and then coughed to get everyone's attention. The Gryffindors were immediately silent.
"I cannot express to you how grave these times are," the thin-faced Professor continued, putting the book down and folding his arms across his chest. "We are at war. We are at war with a creature of unimaginable strength, and no one knows the extent of his powers. I remember everything that happened when Voldemort was at large last time. I was frightened, as were we all. We had never seen the like of him before, and the things he and his followers did were horrific. Now he's returned, even stronger than before. We will need every wizard or witch we can get to help in these battles. And all of you will need to be equipped to deal with these fights! We cannot baby any of you any longer! You must understand that in the eyes of the staff, of the Ministry of Magic, and in the eyes of myself, you are adults, and adults will be expected to be involved. If you cannot get used to the idea of using curses like these, than I advise you to stop coming to my lessons, because I cannot afford to waste my energy teaching you something you will not use."
The class was stunned into silence. Harry stared down at his quill, lying on the desk.
"Now..." Lupin's voice had softened considerably, his gaze had followed suit. "You will need your quills only to take notes on what I say. I know you have had a particularly memorable lesson about the Unforgivable Curses already, but, again, I cannot express the importance of knowing everything you can about them, and knowing it off by heart. These three curses were used extensively by Death Eaters, and by Voldemort himself. They are likely to be again." Again, frightened silence from the class. Lupin smiled a little. He could snap his fingers and make most of the class fall over in surprise right now. "So we will spend plenty of time looking at them."
Neville whimpered in fear, sinking down in his seat. Seamus, sitting next to him, patted his shoulder comfortingly, though his own arm was trembling.
Lupin pushed himself off the desk and started walking round the class. Everyone turned to watch his movements as he spoke. "As you know, the use of any one of the Unforgivable Curses can earn you a life sentence in Azkaban. Death Eaters are trained in the uses of them, and all are almost expert casters. If you face a Death Eater, they will almost certainly know how to use two, if not three, of the curses." He had reached the back, and started walking behind the desks. "Only one person has ever been subjected to all three curses and survived." He stopped, and looked at Harry, and everyone did the same. Harry refused to look up, fiddling with the sleeve of his robe.
"All three?" Ron whispered in horror. "When...when did you get the Cruciatus curse put on you?"
"In the fourth year," Harry murmured back, still not looking back. "Voldemort did it to me."
"And therefore," Professor Lupin said, "only one person can have any credible evidence of what they each feel like. You all know about the Imperius Curse, and I believe you were shown the effect of the Cruciatus Curse on spiders, was it?" At a nod from Dean, he continued, walking down the other side of the classroom. "I don't believe Harry can remember what it felt like to have Avada Kedavra cursed on you." He looked questioningly at the boy in question.
"I don't remember anything but green," Harry said, finally looking up to follow Lupin's movements. Half the class were still staring at Harry in shock, having not known exactly what happened with Harry and Voldemort in the fourth year, and definitely not expecting that Harry was cursed like that.
"I didn't think so." Lupin brushed locks of brown hair behind his ears, and started walking slowly between the desks, meandering towards the front of the classroom. "I won't ask you to relate the Cruciatus Curse to us, Harry, don't worry. But," and he was speaking to them all again, "that means that it is possible to survive all three of them, though I wouldn't test Harry's luck by casting the Killing Curse on him again."
"It would kill me." Harry shrugged at the tense silence, all attention on him again.
Lupin nodded slowly, eyes on Harry all the time. "Then let's just hope that none of you ever come across a wizard who can cast the Killing Curse on you. And if you do..." His voice trailed off for a moment. "If you do...then pray."
The rest of the lesson went more normally. Lupin described each of the curses in gory detail, making them all take healthy notes. He had started going through some defences against the Imperius Curse when the bell rang. Everyone filed out in numb silence, and went back to the common room.
It would be an odd year, if every lesson had the same seriousness to it that that one had.
Dinner was another noisy affair, but the Gryffindor seventh years were a little subdued, thinking over the words of Professor Lupin, and the sudden reality of the war outside. Hermione was thinking about the attack last school year, while Ron was still a little wary about using the curses Professor Lupin had described. Harry had his mind on Voldemort. It was hard not to think about it when you were reminded about him almost every single waking hour of your day.
Ron was waving his fork around, mouth full again, and complaining about Professor Lupin's new 'no-holds-barred' attitude. "I preferred Professor Lupin when he made us fight Bogarts," he said, though, with the food in his mouth, it sounded more like "Ah mefer fessor Mupin men 'e may fus figh' Mogarts."
Hermione had disapproval written over her features. Harry laughed behind his hand. Hermione loved to mother Ron, whether she realised she was doing it or not. It was so amusing to watch.
Ron grinned sheepishly, put his fork down and quickly swallowed his food, then said, "Jolly good stuff, this."
"I bet it is," Hermione replied, giving him a sideways look before turning to her scarred friend. "I think it's good that Professor Lupin isn't holding anything back."
"Yeah, but I reckon he's scared most of the others off fighting altogether," Ron replied, leaning on the table and, once again, waving his fork about to emphasise his point.
Hermione sighed, and decided to give up. She pushed her plate away a little, as if to say that she would eat no more. "At least we're not being coddled," she said. "I'd rather know the facts."
"So would I...but I feel sorry for Neville." Harry lowered his voice so the boy in question wouldn't hear. "If I were him, I'd be more afraid of the Unforgivable Curses than I already am."
Ron fidgeted, feeling horrible about their fellow Gryffindor. "He's almost had it worse than you," he said to Harry. Then his expression changed, and he suddenly looked hurt. "And you never told me you had Cruciatus cast on you."
Hermione started making attempted subtle motions to Ron along the lines of "shut up you stupid git." As usual, Ron didn't see, or he chose not to. "In fact, you never told me much about what happened in the fourth year. No one in the school knows much at all!"
"We were told not to ask," Hermione hissed between clenched teeth. She sent Harry an apologetic look. "Sorry, I know you probably don't want to talk about it, but Ron-"
Harry shook his head at Hermione, and smiled. "It's alright, Herm'. I've had two years to get over the shock, you know? It doesn't hurt to think about it..."
"...much," Hermione finished for him. "Look, Harry, it's a private matter, I know that-"
"You both want to know what happened, so I'll tell you," Harry said firmly. "Just...not here. Don't want everyone knowing. I'll tell you when we get back to the common room, okay?"
Ron looked like he wanted to bounce in his seat. Hermione smiled at Harry, and he smiled back. It would be hard - the memory of Voldemort's voice saying, "Kill the spare," would haunt him forever, until the day he died - to recall the entire thing, but they needed to know.
//"Beware. A truth, disguised as a lie, disguised as a truth."//
Harry shuddered, eyes involuntarily squeezing shut with the motion. When he opened them again, a shadow had fallen over him. He looked up, beyond Hermione, to find the person who was causing the obstruction. He stared for a moment, wondering if the other boy's presence had somehow triggered his remembering of the cryptic message in his dream.
"So, you got the werewolf back. How clever of you."
"Sod off, Malfoy," Ron muttered darkly, fists clenching where they rested on the table.
"I don't feel like it," Malfoy said, grinning maliciously. Harry stiffened himself against it, preparing for the rush he had felt yesterday, but it didn't come. He held himself tense, however, untrusting. Malfoy turned from his redhead enemy, to his dark-haired one. "How did you do it, Potter? Beg at Dumbledore's feet? Knowing you, you only had to attempt a puppy dog face and the old fool relented."
"Don't talk about Professor Dumbledore like that," Harry said tightly, fighting to keep a hold of his temper. //Remember the other Draco, the one you saw last night, remember that one...he's in there somewhere...//
"Favouritism is worth comment." Malfoy crossed his arms, staring down at the three of them in horrid delight. "And no one else will say, so why not me? You know how it is, Potter. Can't keep myself to myself." The smile appeared again, the genuine one, a slow showing of white teeth against pale skin. Harry steeled himself again, but he couldn't deny that he felt it: all along his spine and across his chest.
"Yeah, you're a nosy bugger," Ron interjected with feeling. "Now sod off."
"And if I don't?" Malfoy turned his darkest expression on Ron, temporarily forgetting Harry. His voice was slow, dripping poison. Harry had the distinct feeling that if they ever pushed Malfoy too far, no one would get off easy.
Students were beginning to empty out of the hall, so Draco Malfoy, standing at the Gryffindor table in all his robed glory, the candles setting his hair alight in a blaze of colour, did not look out of place in the steady throng of moving people. Harry kept his gaze steadily on the other boy, still feeling the slight tingling in his spine. Was it anything to do with his dream? Or...something else?
"If you don't move right now, then I will personally introduce your face with the floor," Ron threatened, getting to his feet, and his full height, where he stood a head above the shorter Malfoy.
"Yeah? You and who's army?" Malfoy shot back nastily, face twisting into a sneer of disbelief and disgust.
"I don't need people to hide behind," Ron snapped, his anger seeming to make him taller so he towered over the Slytherin. "You don't have the courage to take me on without Crabbe and Goyle." He nodded to the two, who were watching warily from the Slytherin table.
"I'm not the one who thinks that as long as Potter's around, I'll be okay," Malfoy countered, grey eyes narrowed but bright with fury, temper rising. "At least I've got some talent to go on."
"You wouldn't know talent if it hit you round the face with a wet fish!" Ron chortled, snickering. Malfoy's ears went pink, and suddenly his wand was in his hand. Ron's followed just as fast, when he saw that his enemy was arming himself. It was as if a sudden explosion had gone off: Harry and Hermione were instantly on their feet, armed, and so was half the Gryffindor table, ready to defend their housemate.
"I have more talent than your entire family put together, Weasley," Malfoy snarled, looking very much like the cornered animal. He suddenly seemed very small, but people seemed to know that if they moved too close, he would lash out at them.
"Then prove it." Ron was in an immediate duelling stance, and Malfoy dropped into one automatically, prepared to cast something at Ron over the Gryffindor table.
Malfoy grinned, as he knew he'd already won the fight. He raised his wand to strike, but suddenly a voice overpowered his own as he was about to yell out a spell. "EXPELLIARMUS!" There was a small bang, and Malfoy's wand suddenly flew out of his hand. Malfoy yelled indignantly, and spun round to turn on whoever had taken his wand. He came face to face with Professor McGonagall. Harry was sure he heard Malfoy growl.
"I will not tolerate this!" McGonagall exclaimed, expression severe. "Fighting on the first day of school, really. An unprovoked attack on my students will not go unpunished, Mr Malfoy." She held up his wand. "You will report to my office in two hours, Malfoy, where we will discuss your punishment. Twenty points from Slytherin." Then she gave Ron an exasperated look. "And you should know better. Five points from Gryffindor."
Ron scowled, but Malfoy was fuming where he stood.
To Harry's surprise, McGonagall then turned to him. He blinked. "And Harry," she said. "Dumbledore wishes to speak with you about certain matters later on this evening. If you would wait outside his office at nine o'clock, please."
"Yes, Professor." Harry frowned. "What does Professor Dumbledore want to talk to me about?"
She smiled grimly. "That I cannot say. It is imperative that you go, though."
Malfoy stalked off towards the dungeons with McGonagall in tow, and then Hermione whirled on Ron, eyes blazing. "You idiot!" she exclaimed. "What did you think you were doing? Trying to get yourself expelled?!"
"Er..." Ron shrugged. "...Yeah?"
Hermione looked like she'd keel over any second. "You what?"
"Hey, hey, calm down! I was joking!"
"I should bloody well hope you were joking!"
I don't like this as much as the others...thanks for reviewing, everyone! ^_^
I was just on this site where I was reading about that mistake JKR did in the fourth book about the order of the spells at the end, with Lily and James appearing in the wrong order, and it made a very good point that I didn't think about before. The Avada Kedavra spell for Harry did not show up. The person on this site said that either the book doesn't read the way JKR wants it to, or put forward the theory that Voldemort cast the spell to kill Harry first, before Lily and James were cursed. But, of course, Voldemort would have been too weak after Harry, because the curse back-fired, which raises the question, Who did kill Lily and James, even if they were using Voldemort's wand?
I thought this was an interesting theory myself, but this is just me ^____^;;; Maybe everyone else knows it, but I just found it today.
Right, author comments over, except for "Please review! Pretty please! This story really is going somewhere, you know! And I'll get there eventually! PLEEEAAASSSEE!"
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