Harry lugged his trunk out of the fireplace and slumped on the couch. It was good to be home.
"Are you not going to take that to your room?" Severus asked, handing him Carmax.
Harry groaned. "Alright," he said, accepting the cage and picking up the trunk. He took the two to his room but did not unpack. That could wait...perhaps all summer? He came trotting back downstairs just as Midgy came in.
"Would master like some lemonade?" she asked in her squeaky voice.
"Sure," Harry replied.
She bowed and disappeared. Harry sat down on the couch once more to wait for Severus to return from picking up the rest of his luggage from Hogwarts. With a pop, a house elf appeared, and Harry thought that it was Midgy.
"Dobby?" he asked. "What are you doing here?""Dobby is free now!" he said. "All thanks to the great Harry Potter!"
"Oh, Dobby, it was really nothing," Harry insisted. He could only imagine what Snape would say of all this praising. He would find it very amusing. Therefore, Harry needed Dobby to stop before he got back.
"Harry Potter is an amazing wizard!" Dobby squeaked. "The best wizard!"The Floo flared. Harry winced.
"What is going on here?" Severus asked with a furrowed brow.
"Harry Potter is the greatest, kindest, most-" Dobby began.
"Dobby!" Harry snapped.
It was too late. To the unpracticed eye, Severus may have simply been interested. Harry, however, could tell that he was amused.
"What did Harry do to deserve this?" Severus asked, lip twitching.
"He freed Dobby! Masters gave Dobby clothes because Harry Potter asked them to!" Dobby said, eyes wide as always.
"Is that so?" Severus asked, looking at Harry. "I hope he does not start going around freeing all the house elves. I am rather partial to mine."
Harry rolled his eyes.
"Midgy doesn't want freed!" she squeaked from the doorway, two lemonades in her hand. "Midgy likes it here."
"I am glad," Severus said.
"You're glad?" Harry asked. "You have emotion?"
Severus shot him a glare.
"Thanks, Midgy," Harry said, accepting the lemonade. "And you're welcome, Dobby. You can go now, but stop by and visit anytime."
"Thank you, Harry Potter!"
He disappeared with a pop.
"He can 'visit anytime'?" Severus asked. "I see that you have taken it upon yourself to invite people over."
"Oh, uh yeah, about that..." Harry hedged.
Severus raised a brow.
"I kind of invited Hermione, Ron and Draco," Harry admitted. "Is that okay?"
"As long as they send notice and do not just pop in like your friend Dobby, I am fine with it," Severus said.
Harry smiled. "Okay, great. Now can we eat lunch?"
They went into the kitchen where Midgy had prepared sandwiches and cookies.
"How do you think you did on your final exams?" Severus asked Harry, making conversation.
"Er, I did well on Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts," Harry said.
"Naturally," Severus said.
"Why didn't someone else give the Defense test?" Harry asked to prevent questions about the other exams.
"None of the other professors wanted to make a test without being familiar with the content," Severus said. "I volunteered."
"Why didn't they let you?" Harry asked.
"Dumbledore thought it would be nice for the students to have a break," Severus said darkly. "And I don't think he wanted me to get my hopes up."
"For the job next year. They need a new professor now and, naturally, I put my name in the hat," Severus said.
"I hope you get it," Harry said earnestly. "That would be fun."
"For you. For everyone else, it would be a nightmare," he said, lip curling a bit.
Harry laughed. "I hope next year is normal."
Severus gave him a serious look. "I truly hope so as well. You are put in danger far too often at Hogwarts of all places. It is supposed to be safest for you but it does not seem that way."
"Severus," Harry began, then hesitated. "Should I have been put in Slytherin?"
"What in Merlin's name would make you think that?" Severus asked.
"Well, the Sorting Hat did consider it," Harry admitted. "And I can speak Parseltongue..."Severus pushed aside his plate. "Harry, you are an exceptionally brave young man. I know what you did. Draco knew almost exactly what was going on yet he did not act on it, he didn't say anything. You did."
"Don't insul-" Harry began.
Severus raised a hand. "I'm not. However, his lack of action is an example of the Slytherin way of thinking. Self preservation. I am guilty of the same thing. Draco may be in Gryffindor now but he still thinks like a Slytherin."
"Gryffindor's sword..." Harry thought aloud.
"I pulled Gryffindor's sword from the hat," Harry explained. "I must be in the right house."
"I am sure of it," Severus said.
Harry felt a little better. "But what about the parseltongue?"
Severus sighed. "Dumbledore has a theory but I am reluctant to tell you."
"Why?" Harry asked.
"It is frightening. Especially for one as young as you and one who has lived a life as hard as you have. It would be chilling even for me," Severus admitted.
"Tell me," Harry said.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I need to know," Harry insisted.
"Dumbledore believes that when Voldemort," he gritted the name through his teeth, "tried to kill you, he transferred some of his powers to you. That is why you can speak Parseltongue."
"I will never be able to escape him, will I?" Harry asked quietly.
"I'm afraid not," Severus said.
"And now I don't know what's me and what's him," Harry said.
"Harry, listen to me," he said. "He may have given you a power or two, but you are still you. You may not be able to escape the influence of... Voldemort, but we are all here with you, to support you. I am here. Dumbledore is here. Your friends are here. Okay?"
"Okay," Harry smiled a little sadly. "Okay."
"Now finish your sandwich," he said, leaning back. "Greatest wizard ever," he added snidely, alluding to Dobby's praise. Harry glared.
Narcissa scanned the crowd for her son.
"Draco!" she called, spotting the familiar blond head amidst a sea of students.
"Mother!" he replied, looking a little surprised.
She gave him a soft smile. Ever since her husband was sent away to Azkaban, Narcissa found it much easier to express her emotions. Before, she had kept them hidden, feeling much like Severus in that respect. Giving too much of her thoughts away would leave her exposed and vulnerable. In many ways she sympathized with Severus and was sad to have been involved in causing him so much pain. Harry was a different story. Lucius had cultured her to hate the boy though it seemed almost illogical. Now in light of recent events, she was being forced to change her views, which was tough, but necessary. Nevertheless, as Draco chatted about school, every time Harry Potter's name came up, Narcissa was forced to quell the venomous reaction that Lucius had instilled in her. It would come in time, she supposed.
For now, however, Narcissa simply hugged her son, glad that they were finally together and free from her husband's negative influence.
Later that night, Draco asked, "How long will he be in Azkaban?"
"The minimum is four years," she said, "But it could be as many as ten."
Draco nodded. "So four years to rebuild before he comes back and tears everything apart."
"Draco, don't talk about-" she began to scold him out of habit. "Never mind. Go ahead; he deserves it."
Draco smiled. "He does. Did you let Dobby go?"
"Yes," she said. "He was very happy. I'm pretty sure he will worship Harry Potter forever."
"By the end, I'm sure he won't be the only one," Draco stated.
"By the end of what?"
"The end of Voldemort," Draco said.
"Please don't say his name," Narcissa said.
Draco looked at his mother. "Why not? He can't hurt me."
"Yes he can," Narcissa insisted. "If there is one thing I've learned being married to your father, it is to not underestimate the Dark Lord. I'm not sure how, but I'm certain he will come back. And then, he most certainly can hurt you."
"I'm best friends with Harry Potter," Draco said confidently. "He can't hurt me."
Harry spent the remainder of the day unpacking and re-familiarizing himself with his summer home. He pulled out a few books that he could reread and set them on his bedside table. He walked downstairs to say goodnight to Severus before turning in.
"I'm going to bed," he stated tiredly. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Harry," Severus said, looking up from a stack of letters. "It has been a long day. Perhaps I should follow your example and go to bed myself."
"I'm proud of you, Severus," Harry said out of the blue.
"Why?" Severus asked, surprised by the comment.
"You said 'Voldemort'," Harry said with a grin, "You're making progress."
"Yeah, you are," he said. "I think we all are. One day we will live without fear of him. I know it. Goodnight."
On that philosophical note, Harry went to bed, ending the chapter of his second year but beginning another, hopefully better one.
The end of Screams and Whispers! Again, a thank you goes out to all my faithful readers and most especially the ones who reviewed! I hope you enjoyed it. The next book will be called A Travesty and you can look for the first chapter to be posted in the next few days. Thanks again!
-As it Began
Edit: Third book is out! It can be accessed through my profile page, I encourage you to give it a read!
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