Forlorn Hope

Detaining One's Mind

11: Detaining one's mind

"Professor, please!"

"I am afraid there is little I can do, Mr. Potter, and I suggest you actually show up this time."

"But I can't, can I go with Filch instead?"

"No. You skipped a full week of Professor Snape's classes, so with him you will serve out your punishment."

"But…"

"No buts, Mr. Potter, and if you miss one more potions lesson I will personally place you on restriction."

"You don't understand, Professor…" McGonagall knitted her brow.

"Exactly what do I not understand, Potter?"

"Well he… " Harry hesitated, fidgeting. "It's complicated."

"Unless I hear a valid reason, you are serving detention and attending every class or so help me, Potter, I'll pull you off Quidditch… do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, Professor." The boy answered in defeat.

"Very well, I expect no more complaints from my colleagues, Potter." Harry nodded, closing the door slowly.

… and the mist represents the ruling characteristics of the person. These are usually two distinct colors, but there may be only one, or on rare occasions a third, if individual has a dominant personality...

"It's your own fault you know…" Hermione attempted, Harry's attention set firmly in the book before him.

...the colors do not represent the entirety of the person, who usually contains most, if not all of the possible outcomes. These colors are selected from the dominant traits. Sparks represent secondary traits, the more powerful a person is, the more colors will be seen within the sparks …

"You can't just skip a full week without getting noticed."

… The red color representing courage for example was often used by one Godric Gryffindor, and thus became one of the house colors of his 'House' at the Hogwarts sch …

"…can't you just tell us what's wrong?"

… most important thing to know is yourself. The colors do not represent the animal you become; rather aid you in discovering yourself, which must be known in order to attain your animagus form…

"HARRY!"

"Sorry Herm…" Harry apologized, his heart not in it, "What was that?" He grudgingly closed the book, putting it away as she repeated herself. He had asked Ron about his colors again, finding out that the light gold sounded suspiciously like yellow – yellow was the color of intellectual achievement and jealousy & treachery, while gold was the color of worldly achievement, wealth, and recognition. Unfortunately, jealousy sounded like Ron, although he craved wealth and recognition …

"Will you pay attention while we are talking to you? We're worried Harry, something is obviously wrong. Can't you just tell us already?"

"No." Harry answered, keeping his voice as passive as he could. He had done a good job of acting normal since his stay in the hospital wing, but he still couldn't face the man himself. For the first time since third year, he was actually glad Remus wasn't teaching. Harry had a hard enough time avoiding him after his little stunt on the pitch. The full moon helped, but Harry still made it his priority to steer clear of him. Ron and Hermione had posed a problem as well, insistently bombarding him with questions on matters about which they didn't have a clue. The moment they started, Harry knew he could not actually tell them- them or anyone else.

"You are going to that detention Harry…"

"…"

"Harry, you are GOING to that detention." She repeated forcefully.

"Unless I want to help Slytherin win the cup, I have to."

"WHAT!" Ron immediately jumped into the conversation.

"McGonagall threatened me with restriction… that involves no participation in extracurricular activities."

"You are going- right, Harry?" his mate asked, pleading.

"Don't have a choice, Ron, do I?"

"Still not going to tell us what's going on though?"

"Enter." Severus said calmly, hearing the meek knock on his door. Ten galleons it's a Hufflepuff. He mentally remarked their lot was predictable. "Potter?" What in blazes was he doing here? A person does not ditch class only to seek a private chat with the instructor. Severus noted the slight flinch the boy tried to suppress at Severus' stunned inquiry.

"I'm here for my detention, Sir." Severus fought the urge to say 'oh' (something no one with any sense of pride would lower himself to), responding instead with a raised brow. "Professor McGonagall told me to be here tonight for missing class, Sir." Damn. He ought not have told her… this was not good…still, he could not let the boy get off scot-free.

"Why did you miss class, Potter?" He asked slowly, fixing his gaze on the boy. Lupin did say he had acted odd after his self-release from the clinical ward (something Severus did quite often)… "Well?"

"I did not feel up to it, Sir."

"Meaning?" Silence. The boy usually attempted to lie his way out… not that his petty attempts ever fooled the professional spy (he was a master of more than potions, after all)… Perhaps there was something bothering him…

No major meetings in a while, not since that little embarrassing hospitalization anyway…

No fights within the Golden Trio… no major ones at least…

"I do have Veritaserum, Potter." He stated calmly, still nothing. "Shall I get it?"

"No."

"You would be wise to answer my questions, then."

"May I just start working?"

He wants to work? Most brats would never pass up a chance to spend a detention doing nothing but answering a few questions… he had often used manual labor as an incentive to get them to talk more…

"No, Potter, you are not getting out of this so easily, I fear… I am not about to allow you to do what you damn well please."

"Would you please tell Professor McGonagall that I have chosen restriction, then?"

Severus' brows shot up accidentally, returning to their previous pose before the boy noticed… thankfully.

"Excuse me?"

"She told me I would be placed on it if I did not come tonight."

"You are here, are you not?"

"Not anymore, Sir."

Severus grabbed the boy's arm before he could make two steps towards the door.

"Did you really think you could have pulled that off?"

"Just leave. Me. Alone."

"I cannot." Severus responded, his gaze softening slightly. Something was wrong, and he needed to know what. He actually fingered the small clear vial, wondering if he was willing to actually go through with his earlier threat.

"Never bothered you before!" The Gryffindor yelled, yanking his arm free. "Why now? Remus spill the goods on my home life? You suddenly discover a conscience? Using me to blow off an unsatiated schoolboy grudge getting old? WHAT?" Severus froze at the outburst; the words had cut him deep. In all his years as a professor, few students ever dared to yell at him or insult him to his face. Of those who did, none possessed Lily's temper and his patent death glare.

"Calm yourself Mr. Po-"

"And STOP with the POTTER, already! You know my name better than I do, so USE IT!"

"One more outburst like that and I will summon Dumbledore, Mr. Potter."

"Just…" Harold craned his neck, obviously in an attempt to calm himself. "What do I have to do during detention?"

"Answering my questions would be a good start."

"…"

"Why were you not in my class?"

"Didn't feel like it."

"How about the real reason?"

"…" The boy does have Lily's stubbornness- damn!

"Perhaps Lupin-"

"No!" What in Merlin's name is wrong with him? Lupin and he were acting practically like family a few weeks ago…

"I was under the impression you two were rather close." He stated, hoping the boy would calm down. All he needed right now was someone as unbreakable as Lily right now…

"We were… I just…"

"Well you need to tell someone Potter, something is wrong and it is painfully obvious. If you rather it would be Dumbledore or Lupin or McGon-"

"No." The answer was softer that time, yet still determined.

"You will speak with someone, or I will use Veritaserum."

"I couldn't handle it, Sir." The boy finally stated, apparently seeing no way out of his predicament. "I just didn't think I'd have been able to take your usual remarks without… without doing or saying things I would regret." Severus studied him with his eyes; the boy was hiding something… something important.

"What did you say about your home life?"

"That doesn't matter and is, frankly, none of your business."

"Cheek, Potter, cheek." He warned, "And it is my business."

"You gave up that right long ago, Professor."

"Meaning?"

"Nothing. Next question."

"Home life, Potter." The boy was getting temperamental again, but if he didn't push him now, he would tighten his defenses.

"Ask Remus, you two have obviously gotten over the little grudges…" Was that what this was about? Somehow, he doubted it.

"I intend to." What he had at first placed in the 'of mild interest' pile had suddenly found itself perched atop the 'get answers now' category.

"Anything else, Sir?"

"You may leave… but if you ever speak to me that way again…"

"Yes, Sir." Severus watched the boy walk off, tossing some Floo powder into the inter-castle system as soon as he was out of sight.

"Remus… now."

"I HATE HIM!" Harry yelled out in the middle of the vacant room. Here, where he had first come to find a link to his past, he now sought sanctuary and solitude; an escape from his present. He fell into the beanbag chair, smuggled in by the Marauders long ago, as he had done so many times in the past week. It was a bit worn, but comfy- not that his present state of mind allowed him to notice. The dust was gone now, the books organized and the pranks put into storage until needed. This is where he came when he was supposed to be in Potions. No more getting away from that now, he mused somberly, unless I fancy losing Quidditch because of the slimy git as well…that would make him happy, Merlin forbid he actually cares for his bloody son… bloody bastard son he corrected, his gaze setting on one of the pictures on the wall. Sirius Black- the first man who actually wanted him; Remus Lupin- the first Defense teacher who actually knew his stuff, the first person who provided him with a link to his past; James Potter- the man who gave his life for Harry and his mom… the only one who treated him like a son. What the man lacked in blood he made up for in heart. Everyone always told him how much he looked like his 'father', how much James loved him, wanted him. His real father couldn't even bother to acknowledge him… Merlin forbid Harry could have actually been spared his time at the Dursleys.

Having nothing else to occupy himself with, Harry began to do what he had been doing every time he was supposed to be in Potions. The calm came faster each time, requiring less effort. His mind cleared as his eyes fell closed and his muscles relaxed. He had done this so many times he lost count long ago, pushing himself farther and farther with each attempt. Maintaining the calm took concentration; it occupied him and forced him to push all his problems away. He would need that now- especially in Potions… to act normally when his world was crumbling around him. His breathing was systematic now as the loose trance set in, the familiar tingle caressing his body with increasing intensity. It spread, covering every inch of him with unnatural numbness. Then the pain set in, increasing with every heartbeat. He liked it. He dwelt on the pain, though it never quite reached the same intensity as it did on the attempt before. He knew that each time his body would accept the process more, finally leaving him with nothing to dwell on than the initial tingle and numbness. But for now, he could feel the pain; he could drown his sorrows in it. He could feel the muscles twisting beneath his skin, agitating the surrounding nerves. It was a strange sensation, one that he tried to draw out as far as possible. He felt his bones move, twist, lengthen, change, he felt his face change, his spine stretch into an unnatural shape. Then it stopped. He allowed a moment's rest before reversing the transformation, repeating it over and over and over, until his mind could not focus on more than what was absolutely necessary. He never checked how far he had gone; frankly, he didn't care. He was not doing this to see how far he could go, he was not doing this for anyone, he was simply doing this to feel the rush. He knew he could not fly again, his first attempt proving this beyond a shadow of a doubt. Running was out of the question as well. What he sought was a way to tire his mind out while leaving his body relatively able. He needed to be able to stand up and function normally, yet be too tired to think past what the teacher said or what he had to do. This accomplished that mission. If it gave him a skill that could one day save him, so be it.

Harry had considered harsher ways of dealing with the situation, briefly. He had once looked longingly at the steak knife they used for dinner one night… he had once thought of adding to the scar Wormtail inflicted. The ideas were quickly dismissed however. He could not allow himself to do any of that… he was the hope of the bloody Wizarding World, he had to be strong, and he had to survive. Harry had realized some time ago just what he was- a weapon to be used in order to defeat something people needed destroyed. He was being trained and protected until he was deemed ready. Harry never really thought of his life after Hogwarts… At first he found it too far in the future, then he found it unlikely he would have a future, now… now he didn't actually want to think what a future would be for him. Like all tools, he would be cast out, forgotten, once his usefulness had expired… they might even kill him if he proved too dangerous to be allowed to remain without a purpose… basically, his life's goal was to defeat Voldemort. Anything after that would be borrowed time, time he probably ought not to have. The worst part was; Harry didn't care. All he knew was that he had to be fit, be powerful, and have as many cards up his sleeve as he could manage. He had to be a good little weapon. That's why he came here, that's why he transformed again and again, until his mind could no longer force itself into the state necessary for the transformation to occur.

"I don't need him you know…" he told no one in particular, his breathing hard from the mental strain. "I've survived this long without him; I can manage another year or two…"

Would be nice though…the 'little voice' in his head countered annoyingly.

"Maybe this is some stupid prank Malfoy pulled on me… some hallucinations, a few altered memories… I was out cold for a while and I still haven't a clue what that damned curse is supposed to do…"

Too complex for the royal prat, and too easily traced back to him… besides, I doubt he'd make Snape part of this… and being an Asp would be a compliment to him…

"I still think it's some big mistake though, he certainly acts that way…"

Do you want it to be a mistake?

"…"

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