"Crookshanks!" Hermione yelled, storming into the common room one morning.
Some of the older students gave her annoyed looks. She looked pretty angry.
"What?" Harry asked from where he was slumped on the couch.
"Crookshanks shredded my potions essay and now he's hiding," Hermione said.
Ron gave Harry a look and muttered, "I would be too."
Harry snickered. A high pitched squeak came from under the couch on which they were sitting and a small shape darted out, followed by a much larger orange one.
Hermione drew her wand, aimed it at the cat and petrified it. She walked over and freed Scabbers from its taloned grip. Ron rushed over and gathered his shaking rat in his hands.
"Maybe that's why he's been losing weight!" Ron said accusingly. "Your cat has been terrorizing him. I thought he picked something up in Egypt."
"It was not my cat," Hermione said indignantly. "Scabbers is what, ten years old? He's probably dying."
Ron looked at Hermione in horror. "He's not dying! But I think he might actually be thirteen," he muttered very quietly.
Draco came down the stairs rubbing his eyes. "What's all the yelling about?"
"Ron and his stup-"
Draco ignored them both and looked at Harry.
Harry explained, "Crookshanks chased Scabbers and now they're fighting about whether or not Scabbers is dying."
Draco nodded. "Thought so. How old is he anyway?"
"Thirteen," Harry replied, going by what he had gathered from Ron's comment.
"Rats usually only live half that," Draco said. "Scabbers is lucky."
"Scabbers is just fine," Ron protested. "Or he would be if not for that stupid cat. Its so ugly, why'd you buy it anyway?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Like you can talk. You have a rat."
"An injured rat, thank you very much," Ron snapped.
"Oh, he's not injured," she said dismissively. "Let me see." Hermione stepped closer, hands outstretched.
Ron backed up quickly. "No! He's shaking already."
Hermione let out a huff. Draco moved to sit by Harry and watch the show.
"Fine," Hermione said, picking up her petrified cat who, at the moment, looked murderous. "Crookshanks and I are going for a walk."
Draco's mouth pulled up in a grin. "You can't walk a cat."She glared at him and headed for the portrait hole. Once she was gone, Ron sat down next to Draco.
"So irritating," he muttered. "Know-it-all. Stupid cat. You okay, Scabbers?" He raised the rat to his face which only served to freak it out more. "Okay, fine," Ron said, setting it down on the couch.
"Come on, Ron," Harry said. "Let's go to breakfast."
"She is probably down there," Ron said stubbornly.
"You guys had a small argument, that's it," Harry said. "You're fine."
"No, we aren't. Her cat wants to murder my rat."
Draco spoke up. "Ron, you're being foolish. It's a rat, Hermione is a human being. Now go down there and apologize for your childish behavior and be friends again. You'll regret it later if you don't."
Both Harry and Ron looked at their generally passive friend in shock.
Draco shrugged. "I'm trying to be more assertive. The Slytherins sort of took that away from me," he said. He paused. "And it's early and I'm still tired. Let's go."
With a light chuckle, Harry led his friends out of the common room, hoping for an imminent reconciliation.
Knock, knock knock. "Professor Lupin?" Harry asked.
There was no reply. Harry was about to turn away when the door opened to reveal his slightly disheveled professor.
"Hello, Harry, can I help you?" Lupin asked.
Harry shrugged. "I just wanted to talk," he said. "If you're busy, I can come back later," he added quickly.
"No, I wouldn't hear of it," Lupin said. "Come on in." He stepped aside and gestured for Harry to enter.
Harry stepped inside and glanced around the office. A grindylow sat in a tank in the corner and papers were strewn across his desk.
"Have a seat," Lupin said graciously. Harry sat across from Lupin. "Well, what's bothering you?"
"Trelawney predicted that I was going to die."
"Professor Trelawney, Harry," Lupin corrected. It immediately reminded Harry of Severus and for the millionth time, he wondered why he had not gone to him with this. "And do you believe in Divination?"
"I don't know," Harry said honestly. "I didn't think I did, but for some reason this really got to me."
"Why?" Professor Lupin asked, seeming genuinely curious.
"Because I saw the grim," Harry said.
"The grim?" Lupin asked. "What's that?"
"An omen of death. Didn't you take divination?" Harry asked.
Lupin shook his head and gave a small smile. "I thought I would be better served by Arithmancy."
"Were you?" Harry asked.
"No," Lupin replied simply. "Anyway, you saw this grim?"
Harry said, "Yes."
"Are you sure it wasn't a hallucination?" Lupin asked.
Harry frowned. "I'm pretty sure. I touched it."
Lupin considered Harry. "It is very possible that what you saw wasn't the grim. What does it look like?"
Harry had just opened his mouth to reply when the door cracked open behind them.
"Lupin?" a darkly familiar voice asked.
"Come on in, Severus," Lupin said easily. Harry looked at him in concern.
Severus opened the door wider, took one step, then stopped, looking at Harry. After a moment, he proceeded to set a goblet upon Lupin's desk. It smoked slightly. Severus gave Harry one last, long look before leaving without a word. The door slammed behind him and Harry flinched.
Harry turned to find Lupin looking at him with concern. "I should go," Harry said.
Lupin nodded. "Good luck, Harry. I have faith that you will not die."
"Thanks," Harry replied, stepping out. He was only slightly sarcastic.
It was several days before Harry got the chance to talk to Severus. School work had overloaded him and though he longed to reconcile with his guardian, it was simply not feasible. That is, if "reconcile" was the right word. Though Harry felt guilty for going to Lupin instead of Severus, he could not see what he had done wrong in Severus's eyes. For all he knew, they could have been talking about Harry's grades. It bothered him.
It took Harry by surprise when Severus strode in to their Defense Against the Dark Arts class, apparently with the intention of teaching. He strode to the front of the room.
"Open to page 394," he snapped. The class looked at him, not expecting his presence in replacement of their usual easy going teacher. No one moved. "Page 394," he reiterated.
The class jumped to obey. Hermione's hand shot in the air.
"Yes, Ms. Granger?" Snape asked, calling upon her.
"Sir, where is Professor Lupin?"
"He is ill," Snape replied. "Now open your book."
Hermione looked at Harry, shrugged, and opened her book. Harry did the same. When he glanced at the title of page 394, his stomach dropped. It was the full moon.
"Read this chapter and write a report, at least three feet, on how to tell the difference between an animagus and a werewolf to be due next class," Severus commanded.
Hermione's hand was in the air once more. She was one of the few brave enough to talk to Professor Snape.
"Sir, we aren't on werewolves yet, we're covering kappas and redcaps," she pointed out.
"I am aware of that," Severus replied dryly.
Hermione had raised her hand before he even finished speaking.
"This is getting tedious, Ms. Granger," he said, a dark edge creeping into his voice.
"I apologize sir, but we are not to cover half-breeds until next semester," she said, as if she expected him to care.
"I am fully aware of what I am assigning and I would point out that I am not Professor Lupin, thank Merlin, and I can, therefore, teach however I wish. Understood?" he asked.
Hermione nodded. Harry scrutinized his guardian, wondering at the sudden assertion of power. Deciding it best to let it be for now, Harry looked down at his book and began to read.
"Harry," Severus said, approaching from behind Harry in the Great Hall. "Are you finished?"
"Yes," Harry said. He hadn't eaten much but did not have a particularly large appetite that day.
"Good. Come with me, if you would," Severus said, walking away immediately.
Harry sighed. "Bye."
He grabbed his bag and trotted after Severus. They walked in a semi-uncomfortable silence until they reached Severus's office, the customary meeting place. Harry took up his seat and waited for Severus to close the door and sit down.
"You have been avoiding me," Severus accused.
Harry frowned. "Not on purpose," he said honestly. "I've been really busy with schoolwork. That essay you assigned for Defense didn't help much, I might add."
"Are you sure that is all?"
"Yes," Harry replied. "Though, you seemed a little mad the other day in Lupin's office. I'll admit, I was at a loss as to why. What'd you give him anyway?"
"Wolfsbane potion," Severus said. "To give him a modicum of control at the full moon."
"Oh," Harry said. "Well if you're trying to help him, why'd you assign that essay? Aren't you afraid someone will figure it out?"
"I am not giving him the potion to help him but rather to protect the students," Severus said. Then he grinned a little wickedly. "And I am rather hoping that someone is smart enough to figure it out. It would be a little disappointing if no one did."
The blood rose to Harry's face. "Are you trying to get him fired? Severus, if anyone tells the parents, Lupin will be forced to leave!"
"And that would be horrible!" Harry said. "Lupin would be ostracized!"
"And now that the two of you are best friends, I suppose it matters to you?" Severus asked snidely.
Harry's eyes narrowed. "It would have either way. You are ruining his life now for something that he did as a child!"
"You know nothing of it, Potter!" Severus shouted, standing up.
"I KNOW FAR MORE THAN YOU!" Harry shouted back, angry beyond belief. "Sirius Black wants to kill me for much the same reason! That's how it's been my whole freaking life!" Harry lowered his voice. "Please don't ruin this for Lupin. Don't ruin it for me."
Harry turned on his heel and stormed out of the room.
Severus buried his face in his hands and wondered at what he had done.
Blaise Zabini walked leisurely down the corridor past Professor Snape's office. As he neared the small room, he could hear shouting from inside. Being the curious Slytherin he was, naturally Blaise stopped to listen. He sneered as he heard Potter's angry voice. As if someone could argue with Snape. As if his Head of House would stand for such a thing. Blaise looked forward to the retribution that irritating Gryffindor would face. When the argument seemed to have stopped, Blaise hurried down the hall. He glanced back over his shoulder as Potter stormed out of the office and in the other direction. For his own satisfaction, Blaise walked nonchalantly the way he came, wanting to see Snape's fuming face to get a taste of what would be in store for Potter. As he passed the Potions Master's opened door, he glanced inside. Rather than the livid man that he had hoped for and expected, he saw a beaten man, head in his hands. Blaise frowned and continued on his way, hating Harry Potter more now for demeaning his Head of House.
AN: What a wonderful way to spend a snow day :)