Harry entered Hermione’s room in St. Mungo’s a week later and saw two familiar people already in with her.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said quickly and turned to leave, “I’ll come back.”
“No wait Harry!” Hermione called after him and he stopped in the doorway and turned back, “Please come in.”
Harry entered and the two adults stood and smiled at him.
“Harry, you remember my parents?”
The faces clicked in his mind with the names, “Yes, nice to see you again.”
Hermione’s father held out his hand, “Pleasure to see you again Harry.”
He shook his hand and then Hermione’s mother’s hand.
“I understand we have you to thank for saving Hermione,” Mrs. Granger said.
“Yes,” Mr. Granger said, “You arriving when you did saved her life. We thank you.”
Harry smiled slightly, “You’re welcome, but I was…”
Mr. Granger held up a hand, “Please stop Harry. Our daughter speaks very highly of you and we think so as well.”
“Thank you,” Harry said, “I was wondering if I could talk with Hermione for a moment or I can come back?”
“No Harry,” Mrs. Granger said, “Please stay, we should get something to eat anyway,” she looked at her daughter, “We’ll be back soon.”
After the two adults left Harry sat down next to his best friend, “Where’s Ron?”
Hermione started giggling, “Dad scared him away.”
Harry laughed, “Really? How?”
“He just gave Ron a stern look and told Ron how he’ll be very disappointed if he hears that Ron’s not treating me right.”
Harry chuckled, “Let me guess… Ron turned white and fled the room in panic?”
“Yep,” Hermione said with a smile, “My hero.”
Harry’s smile slowly faded and he cleared his throat, “’Mione, I’ve been assigned to Kathryn permanently. I hope you’re not mad.”
“Of course not,” Hermione laughed, “Besides, it’s not like I’m of any help to you here.”
“If memory serves you were a great help to me and Ron when
you were petrified.”
Hermione laughed at Harry’s reference to their second year, “You’re welcome. So what’s been happening while I’ve been in here? Ron’s not very good with gossip or details.”
Harry smiled, “Well, we’ve started the Dueling Club again. So far most of the school has signed up. Gryffindor leads for the House and Quidditch Cups.”
“How’s Ginny doing?”
“She’s fine,” he answered to quickly.
“Really?” Hermione asked skeptically, “That’s not what I hear.”
Harry’s eyebrows went up, “What did you hear?”
“I heard you two had a huge row and she slapped you.”
Harry’s face flushed with anger, “Kathryn.”
“Yes, Kathryn,” Hermione said, “Now look Harry, I’ve known you for years and you have always liked Ginny. If you want to be with her I’m sure she’ll dump Colin and be with you in a heartbeat. All you have to do I just ask her.”
“You know why I can’t,” he said.
“I know,” she said sadly, “but you can change that.”
They sat in silence. Harry thinking about what she said and Hermione waiting for him to speak. She watched as volumes of emotion shown in his eyes. She knew he was wrestling with more than just Voldemort.
Suddenly the door opened and Kathryn popped her head in.
“Harry come quick. We found Snape.”
Harry gave Hermione’s hand a quick squeeze and he was out the door.
Snape pushed Slughorn’s still form towards the edge of the forest near the castle. The snow wasn’t too deep at this part and would be perfect for his task. The man had evidently not been too much help to his master. He’d understood that the former Potions teacher had whimpered and begged for mercy right up to the end. Well… the end of his life anyway.
Snape released the spell levitating the body and watched as it fell heavily to the ground. Looked around to see if anyone had heard the body and he saw no one. Hagrid’s hut showed no signs life and the castle was similarly devoid of life. He smirked and raised his wand upwards.
The symbol of Voldemort, The Dark Mark, appeared above the treetops marking the place where evil had struck. Snape turned and quickly fled from the scene before someone showed up. He ran for about a hundred yards when a flash of black and a sharp crack was heard echoing in the forest.
He fell backwards stunned and in pain. He felt the blood running from his nose and wiped it away. A snap of a twig in front of him and he looked up to see where the black flash came from.
Harry Potter stood over him with an expression full of fury.
“Well, well, well... if it isn’t Mr. Potter,” he sneered trying to act in control, “Resorting to physical violence now?”
Harry stayed silent staring down at the bleeding man eyes blazing with anger and hatred.
“What no pithy comebacks? No smart-alecky remarks,” Snape slowly said, “I’m very disappointed.”
Snape slowly was reaching for his wand while he was talking. Unbeknownst to him, Harry whose hands were hidden under his cloak, was already holding his wand and was waiting for Snape to make the first move.
“You bastard,” Harry said seething, “You killed Dumbledore and nearly killed Hermione.”
“Oh she did survive?” Snape said, “I’m impressed Potter. Granger’s ability to cheat death is nearly as impressive as yours.”
Harry’s blood pressure was through the roof. He gripped his wand tighter, “But you won’t cheat death.”
“Really?” Snape said, “Oh, you’re going to kill me are you?” then Snape laughed, “You’re a child!” he exclaimed, “You’re nothing.”
“Hardly,” Harry spat and promptly kicked Snape across the head.
Snape, dazed by the unexpected blow rolled with the impact and pulled out his wand, “Flipendo!”
Harry was thrown backwards and allowed himself to fall. He rolled with his momentum and brought his own wand out, “Accio Snape!”
Snape suddenly was pulled towards Harry who promptly stepped out of the way as Snape impacted against the tree behind him. The sound was a dull wet crunch and Snape’s wand flew from his grasp and was lost somewhere in the snow.
“Child am I?” Harry said coldly as Snape shook the stars from his vision.
Snape slowly stood and looked at the man now before him and for one of the very few times in his life Severus Snape was truly afraid.
Harry’s wand was pointed at Snape’s heart and never wavered.
“What now Potter?” Snape said, his gaze not moving from Harry’s, “Are you going to kill me? As I killed Dumbledore?” he sneered, “He died weak and powerless. Some mentor he was.”
Harry’s reaction was quick and vicious. He punched Snape hard across the jaw and sent the man backwards into the tree. Snape hit his head hard and fell to the ground unconscious.
“I hope you enjoy losing everything in this world you have and for what you’ve done I will make you pay,” Harry stood over him and muttered, “This is my retribution upon you.”
Harry looked and saw Kathryn come running up to him with McGonagall and Shacklebolt. They stopped up short when they saw Snape’s unconscious form on the ground.
“Sorry we’re late,” Kathryn said, “We saw the Dark Mark and went to it first.”
“Bind him and bring him up to the school,” McGonagall said to Shacklebolt. She looked at Harry, “Are you alright Mr. Potter?”
He nodded and walked away. Kathryn rushed to catch up.
He slowed up enough for her to catch him.
“Slughorn’s dead,” she said.
“I know,” Harry replied, “I saw Snape drop him and send up the Dark Mark.”
They walked in silence for a moment, “I saw your fight with Snape,” she said, “I’m proud of you. You could have given into revenge and hurt him like he hurt Hermione or killed him.”
“I’m not a murderer,” he said, “It’s bad enough that I have to kill one man on this earth.”
Kathryn nodded, “I know.”
The exited the forest and walked towards Hagrid’s hut. Hagrid was there covering Slughorn’s body.
“’Arry!” he said and stood as they approached, “Good ter see ya lad.”
Harry smiled at his friend and looked down at Slughorn’s covered body, “Will somebody be coming for him?”
“I think McGonagall’s taking care of that,” Kathryn said, “She’ll make some sort of announcement at dinner I think.”
“I ‘eard Snape did this,” Hagrid said.
“Voldemort I believe actually killed him,” Kathryn said, “but Snape was involved never the less.”
Hagrid nodded, “’Ard ter believe that Snape’s a traitor. Dumbledore always seemed to trust ‘im. Don’ know why, but ‘e did.”
“He was wrong about that,” Harry whispered and headed towards the castle.
The atmosphere in the Great Hall was tense with anticipation that night. When McGonagall had ordered everyone back to his or her common rooms in the middle of classes the gossip mill started up.
“I heard they found Slughorn and he went over to You-know-who’s side.”
“I heard he was dead.”
“I heard You-know-who’s army is attacking the Ministry.”
“I heard Hogsmeade was attacked.”
“The dementors have comeback from the Netherworld and are here for revenge.”
“I heard Harry Potter went mental and killed a ton of Aurors.”
They entered the Great Hall for dinner and saw the teacher’s table full. Several students, mostly from Slytherin, were disappointed to see Harry Potter sitting with Professor Ryan proving that he did not go mental.
Ginny and the others at the Gryffindor table noticed the teachers weren’t as relaxed as they usually were. The students ate while waiting to hear some news, which came at the end of the meal.
“Attention please!” McGonagall’s voice rang out silencing them, “I know you are anxious to hear about what happened this afternoon and why you where called out of classes. I also, have some sad news to report,” she put on a sad expression, “Professor Slughorn was killed by an agent of Lord Voldemort.”
The hall erupted in chatter and a few gasps.
McGonagall raised her hands for silence, “Children please be quiet!” after the din died down she continued, “The agent was caught by our Mr. Potter and is currently incarcerated in Azkaban Prison.”
The hall started clapping for Harry who just nodded in thanks. Ginny looked at Harry with concern and saw he was ok.
“Professor Sprout will take over for now as Potions Master until a replacement can be found,” McGonagall said quieting the applause, “I know this has been a shock, but the teachers here at the school will remain vigilant. Well, now I think we should head to bed.”
As the hall emptied Ginny saw Harry give her a look and a small smile. She smiled back. She had expected that, but felt strangely better. She was almost out the door when a voice sounded behind her.
She turned gasping, “Harry! You startled me.”
“Sorry, can I talk to you for a moment?” he asked and she nodded. He waited until the last person had left before they talked.
“It’s good you got Snape,” she said first, “I proud of you.”
“Thanks,” he looked down and sighed, “Look Ginny, I owe you an apology.”
“Yes you do.”
He exhaled softly, “You’re right. I haven’t been acting like the Harry you remember.”
“No, you haven’t,” she replied evenly.
“I’d blame it on the pressure I’ve been under,” he continued, “but that’s no excuse.”
“No it’s not.”
He looked at her and saw her face set in stone, “I’m sorry, I was just doing what I thought was right.”
She looked at him, still not showing any emotion, “And that included making me feel like I was of no value to you?”
“It shouldn’t have,” he said, “That’s my entirely fault.”
“Harry, just because we’re not going out anymore doesn’t mean I can’t still care about you or offer to help.”
He nodded, “I know. I was keeping you out of harm’s way.”
She smiled at him, “Thanks, but I am a big girl you know.”
He smiled slightly, nodded and rubbed the cheek she had hit, “I noticed.”
Her smile grew brighter, “Apology accepted,” she said and gave him a hug.
They released each other to see Colin approaching them looking at them with confusion.
“Hi Colin,” Harry said, “I should get going. Bye.”
“Bye,” Ginny said.
Harry left them alone and Colin looked back at Ginny, “What were you two doing?”
Ginny looked at him for a moment in confusion then said, “Oh nothing. Harry and I just talked for few moments.”
“That’s all and it required a hug?”
Ginny eyed him curiously, “Are you jealous?” she asked with humor and Colin looked away his face giving away his answer, “You are.”
“Yes ok?” he said, “You used to go out, remember?”
Her tone then lost all of its humor, “I remember thank you.”
“Sorry, but I thought we’re going out now and I saw you give him…,” he trailed off.
“It’s a bloody hug!” she exclaimed, “Get over it will you?”
“I just…,” he stopped at her facial expression.
“Look,” she said, “Harry’s my friend as well as yours. We broke up over two years ago. Now stop being jealous of him.”
“You would be if he were hugging your girlfriend,” he said under his breath.
“Argh! Nevermind!” she exclaimed and stormed off.
Colin stood there looking at her retreating form in total confusion.