Fact Vs. Fiction - Part III
Chapter 12 - Emancipated Minor - Fact Vs. Fiction - Part III
Harry's scar began to tingle after he came up to his dorm to go to sleep. He tried to ignore it, took a long shower to relax, and crawled into bed at about half past midnight. Snape came in to check on him not too long after that, and Harry admitted to him that his scar was bothering him in the way that meant Voldemort was agitated. Snape frowned at this, but had nothing to offer, so he told Harry that Fudge did indeed know about his pending emancipation, and was quite crazed at the idea that Harry would now have more legal independence. Apparently, Fudge had been entertaining a plan to remove Harry from his aunt's custody and have him adopted into the Malfoy family. When Harry gawked at that bit of news, Snape actually allowed a tiny smile of amusement to grace his face, saying that it had very obviously been news to his friend Lucius, as well. Snape continued, saying that he and Lucius had spent the afternoon letting Fudge search the castle to satisfy himself that Harry was not stowed away somewhere within. Harry remembered the mess of books he'd left in the library, but Fudge hadn't even noticed them. Immediately after Fudge's early evening departure, Malfoy had stayed on site to keep watch and Snape had gone to Dumbledore and told him of the day's events. He finished by telling Harry that he had not yet been summoned by Voldemort, but expected to be at any time.
Harry had not been able to read Snape's level of concern on that. It was strange to hear this degree of information from the same evil git who had previously refused to tell Harry anything about his interactions with Voldemort. That Snape snarled and insinuated that Harry was way too inept and untrustworthy to know such matters, before proceeding to assault Harry's mind. This Snape and that Snape were apparently the same man… but things had truly changed. This Snape had taken Harry's glasses and put them on the beside table, then pulled the covers up and around Harry's shoulders to block the chill, laying a warm hand on Harry's head for a moment before saying a quiet good night.
This Snape said as he paused in the doorway, "Lucius never does anything without precision. If he is confident with his knowledge of Occulism, you can trust his confidence that he can repair your eyesight."
"Thanks, Professor," Harry said.
Harry was still awake with his thoughts at two a.m. when the pain in his scar hit him so hard he yelled out in shock. It was an explosive agony as intense as the night at the graveyard in fourth year, when Voldemort had touched it. Harry wasn't even aware he was writhing on the bed until he fell off of it. He saw stars and flashes of bright light, but nothing else. The pain seemed to go on forever. He could feel Voldemort's emotions again, and was sickened by them. The dark wizard was triumphant over something, but Harry couldn't make out what it might be. He finally managed to break away from the connection and just sat on the floor, shaking and panting his breaths while he tried to recover. Hot tears began to leak out of his eyes, and by now he knew there was no point in trying to stop them. I am so bloody sick of this, he thought. The tears were the kind that just streamed out of his eyes while his mind ran away with thoughts, and fears, …and convictions that he had to do something about this bloody menace that resided with him inside his skull. He had to stop Voldemort before he got any stronger. Harry always found himself coming back to the same mantra: If only he hadn't regained his corporeal body.
I helped him return, I should be the one to send him off again, Harry thought. He felt that warmth under his skin building, and it seemed to directly reflect the growing intensity of the conclusions he was forming in his mind. Voldemort was only able to return with my blood, Harry thought. If he could be killed again, at least physically, it would be much harder for him to make another comeback. That would buy me time to figure out how to get him out of me.
Harry had a fundamental conviction that killing Voldemort's flesh was not going to end the evil. The dark wizard had somehow managed to separate his spirit from his body, enough that he hadn't completely died when he'd tried to kill Harry that night in Godrick's Hollow. Whatever had survived had existed without a body all of those years. Harry had first seen that weird spirit-like form in the forbidden forest, trying to subsist on unicorn blood. That had made his scar hurt, as had the nastiness that had lived under Professor Quirrell's turban. At this point, Harry could only assume they were one and the same. Then there'd been the diary… not sure if that was part of this, he reflected. And then he'd been relatively unbothered in third year, but in fourth, the dreams had started, and he'd seen that creepy, baby-body creature that Barty Crouch Jr. had been looking after. That, to Harry was a mystery: how had Voldemort's spirit-like existence progressed to a physical form? The question was, if he was cast back into that creepy baby state, could he still survive?
Could I possibly take him on?
He had his back to the side of his bed, still sitting on the floor, and now the warmth was receding, and his isolated feeling returned, full swing, to overpower his confidence. He brought his knees up to bury his wet face in them. At least he was alone.
"Harry, are you alright?" Snape's voice interrupted Harry's inner monologue about solitude. "Was it your scar?"
Does Snape have me warded to alert him every time I cry, for Merlin's sake?
Harry raised his head to blearily see that his professor was down on one knee, green dressing gown belted over green and black plaid pajamas that were yet another contradiction to the batsuit he'd always imagined the man slept in. Said man was now cupping Harry's chin to have a look at his face and scar.
"Something's happened," Harry told the older wizard. "He's very proud of himself. Did your mark react?"
Severus was watching Harry with concern, remembering how badly the boy had been affected by the connection when he'd seen Arthur Weasley's attack. Not that Severus had felt the need to comfort or protect Harry then. But he did now. "The mark doesn't work the same way as you scar seems to. I only feel it burning when I am summoned," Severus explained. "Like Lucius told you, if you say his name in my presence, I feel a tingle where it resides, the likes of which I do not care to describe, but suffice it to say, that is why I have snapped at you in the past when you've used it in front of me."
"Oh," Harry said. He swiped at his eyes as the meaning of Snape's words actually sank in. "Eyeww."
"Quite," Severus said with a smirk. The boy was without his glasses and his eyes were so strikingly and unexpectedly like Lily's at that moment, he found himself swallowing a loud, involuntary gulp. Harry had to have heard it, so Severus quickly covered by asking, "Where are your glasses?" He cast a look around and saw that they were crunched quite significantly into the stone floor about a foot away. The glass was shattered and the frames were likely beyond the scope of an occulus reparo charm for fixing.
"I can't see them," Harry said. "Can you?"
"Yes, and they are destroyed," Severus said calmly, taking in the boy's visible distress by this news. He had a good look at Lily's son, at his ratty pajamas and bare feet, scrawny arms circled loosely around his knees, eyes appearing glazed because his vision was so poor. Severus reached out a hand to feel the top of one of Harry's feet. It was ice cold. Now he took a hold of Harry's arm. "Come, stand up and get back into bed. You're completely chilled, Harry. Are you hurt?" It was obvious now that Harry had fallen out of the bed and landed on his glasses. But Harry shook his head, doing as he was told and crawling back under his covers. He lay on his side, unfocused gaze pinned to his bedside table. Severus sat on the edge of the bed. "Had you slept before the pain started?" he asked.
"No," Harry said quietly, and his voice broke when he asked, "Professor, what am I supposed to do about this? about him being here, always, with me?"
"I do not yet have an answer for you," Severus said grimly. He rested his hand on the boy's arm and gave it a squeeze. "But I will tell you that having you confide this much in me has given me a far broader perspective of what is really at stake in this terrific drama, than what I'd previously realized. I understand why you have felt so alone, but in truth, you never have been." He squeezed Harry's arm again, realizing that the boy's unfocused, tearful gaze that continued to be directed at nothing in particular, was its own kind of helplessness. "The communication has been deplorable, on all sides, from Albus Dumbledore, to myself and all of your professors in this school, to your close friends, and right down to you, Harry. This is the unfortunate fallout of struggle, and of being forced to cope, rather than thrive. You are justifiably mistrustful of Albus, but he cares very, very deeply about you. I should hope that as time goes by, you will resume your confidence in him. He is the most powerful wizard alive, as far as I'm concerned, and he is very wise, and very caring, but he is not perfect. No one is."
"I know," Harry whispered. "Did you tell him why I got emancipated?"
"I told him you had relayed your reasons to me, and that I supported them, but that is all I said. I can relay the facts on your behalf, should you choose to trust me to relay them, until he is able to resume his position here and you can speak to him directly for yourself," Severus said.
"I just feel like he'll try to undo things," Harry said, "and I just can't go through that stuff anymore. Not while I still have to exorcize the creepy Mr. Riddle from my head."
"I think you can be assured that he will be most sympathetic to your decision, once he has the perspective that I do. And, this exorcism, if that is what it truly shall be, should be the result of a group of minds working together, Harry. You are not alone in this. You will have help. And your insights are vital, so please share them as you gain them. With myself, with Albus, … even with Lupin, if you must."
Harry's mouth curved upward at that. "It seems like you two are almost friendly. Does this mean you'll leave him be when he teaches here again?" Harry asked.
"I was the one who rehired him, Mr. Potter. That's how much you know," Severus said with a smirk. Harry's responding laugh of surprise was a welcomed shift that lightened the mood slightly.
"Do you think I should have Mr. Malfoy fix my eyes?" Harry asked him.
"Yes," Severus said. "Occulists are rare, and their services are quite costly. Many wizards simply settle for glasses to save the expense. This is a generous gift in that regard, which is saying something. But if you are still hesitant, I will find a means to get you to muggle London for new glasses. That's the only alternative I can offer, just now." Now he stood, his own fatigue beginning to claim him. "Can you sleep now? Would you like a sleeping draught?"
"I think I can sleep," Harry said, still not finished with the discussion. "Is he going to be here tomorrow?"
"I believe he is," Severus said. "See how you feel in the morning, and if you are comfortable with your decision, summon him through the coin."
"Alright. I guess the alternative of spending indefinite time in a blur is enough to make up my mind." Besides, Harry thought, by tomorrow we'll know what Voldemort was so gleeful about. I'll need to be able to see. Plain and simple.
"Alright, Harry?" Lucius asked the visibly tense teenager who was now seated on the Griyffindor common room sofa.
Harry nodded, but his nerves were completely on edge, and not only because a very small part of him was afraid he was about to be duped by Lucius Malfoy, and forfeit his eyesight as a result. But the larger source of agitation was that his scar was tingling again, and now that he was facing Malfoy, the sensation was intensifying. "Did anything bad happen with Riddle last night?" he asked. He couldn't see Malfoy's features clearly enough to read his expression, so he had to rely on his impression of the blond wizard's tone of voice.
"I've not heard anything, just yet, Harry," Lucius returned carefully. "But you… have a bad feeling?"
Harry nodded. He was blinking his eyes and biting his lip, and suddenly knew he needed to just get this done. Now. "I'm ready, sir," he said.
"Very well," Lucius said. He summoned a chair from the study table and sat in front of Harry. "You will not feel anything, Harry. Your main challenge will be to not blink your eyes, alright? You'll only have to do this for about thirty seconds for each of the three spells I am going to cast."
"Okay, then. I'm ready." Harry repeated.
"Excellent," Lucius said. "Blink three or four times now, and then hold your gaze, right here," he tapped his left shoulder, "and do not blink until I say to." He waited while Harry followed instructions, and then waved his wand slightly above Harry's forehead, weaving an infinity symbol as he chanted the first spell. "Well done, Harry," he said warmly after the first step. "And, again," he directed, and proceeded to cast the second and then third spells.
Harry kept his eyes trained on Malfoy's shoulder, biting his lip as the prickling grew steadily more and more distracting. As soon as Mr. Malfoy had completed the third spell and told Harry he could blink again, Harry had a split second of fantastically clear eyesight, through which he saw Malfoy with a genuinely pleased smile telling him that the spells were successful, and then the pain and bright starbursts destroyed it all, as his scar erupted with Voldemort's rage. I know where you are, Harry. I know who your new friends are, Voldemort's voice said inside his mind. Minister Fudge just didn't know where to go for the facts, did he, Madam Chase?
Harry could hear Malfoy's confusion, and was vaguely aware that the older man was holding his wrists to keep him from clawing at his forehead. The pain was all encompassing now, and Harry lost himself to a momentary possession by the evil wizard, reminiscent of the time he'd felt Tom's rage when he'd met Dumbledore's eyes after Arthur Weasley had been attacked. Harry heard a woman's scream of terror and laughed maniacally in Voldemort's voice. He saw a brief flash of where Voldemort was, and he was out in the open. In a forest. The Forbidden Forest? On the ground lay the deceased Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, and hovering upside down in midair, was Rebecca Chase. In the periphery of his awareness, as it slowly returned to the common room, Harry knew that Voldemort had seen out of his eyes, and had seen Lucius Malfoy smiling at him.
Severus felt the warm vibration of his galleon and pulled it out of his pocket.
We are cooked, my friend. You'd better join me with Harry in his common room.