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A Time to Forget

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Now that he was packing for a few months at Hogwarts, Harry was glad that he had been the one to keep the house when his marriage dissolved. He was certain that Ginny was better at this sort of thing than he was. She had managed to move out over the course of two weeks, and only occasionally Flooed to ask about items that she had forgotten -- her favorite spatula, for example. As he had no idea how one could have a favorite spatula, he had willingly invited her over to find the thing, and had got an unscheduled visit with Lily out of the deal.

"You've packed five blue shirts."

Hermione had actually pulled the offending items out of his trunk. Harry pushed his hands through his hair in frustration. "I like blue okay?" She was giving him that look. "And it's the last wash I did, so they were at the front. And it doesn't MATTER, because I'll be wearing professor's robes over whatever else I have on!"

"Oh, honestly, Harry!" Hermione dove into his wardrobe and began picking out shirts in a balanced assortment of colors and styles. He wanted to tell her to stop, but she was doing too good a job of it. "Aren't you supposed to get the hang of matching clothes when you start kissing men?"

He snorted. "Sorry. M'not bent enough for benefits, I suppose."

She giggled. "Don't ever look at your press in Willing Wands."

"Oh god! Did they--"

"Gossip column."

He blanched. "Don't tell Albus they mentioned me."

"Really, Harry! He's fourteen. No one would sell it to him."

"He's a Slytherin. He'd get it somehow." Harry suspected that he might enjoy it, too, in another year or two. He looked sidelong at Hermione. "You can read that one."

Gratifyingly, she squeaked. "I could not!"

"What? You have, apparently."

"We were visiting Charlie!"

"Ah." That made more sense than Hermione secretly buying gay mags, really. "But you decided to read it?"

"It was out on the table. You know how curious I get." Hermione cleared her throat. "Er, have you heard from Ginny? Since that article in Scene It?"

It was a transparent attempt to change the subject, but hardly one that Harry could ignore. He rolled his eyes. "Yeah. She's taking it okay. Between her Quidditch career and having been married to me, she's pretty used to this stuff. She and Diana have planned a few very public appearances, and she's hoping that will take care of any rumors that she wants me back. Of course, she did suggest that if I had a current interest, she'd be grateful if I did the same." He tossed a random pile of jeans to the floor by the trunk. They landed with a satisfying smack against the wood floor. "You'd think the weeklies would get used to seeing us together. What do they suppose 'we're still friends' means?"

"Not that you'd keep your arm around her like that, apparently."

"Good thing they don't know Diana has labeled me a 'permissible excursion' then."

Hermione frowned. "Occasional excursion, as I recall," she said warningly.

Harry laughed in a cursory huff of breath. "Hermione, that was 'occasional' when we were married. Doubt I'll be seeing more of her when we only need to trade off kids a few times a year." Sighing, he sat down on the bed, poking with bare toes at the open trunk. "Is it horrible of me to miss Lily more than Ginny?"

"Of course not!" Hermione left off sorting through the jeans and sat beside him, looping an arm over his shoulders. He slouched into it, accepting the comfort. "It's horrible, maybe, but not of you -- or her. Just -- sometimes things don't work out. No one blames you, Harry."

"Except the people who think I was faking with her all along," Harry countered. He gestured vaguely at the world beyond the window. "How can people think that AND think I'm having an affair with her?"

"I think it's different people, Harry," Hermione answered, smiling.

"I must be providing marvelous entertainment at garden parties. 'Harry Potter: inveterate poof, or cheating with his ex-wife?'"

Hermione laughed. "Yes, I'm afraid so. With a large number of people saying "WHAT LOVELY ROSES, DON'T YOU THINK SO, JANETTE?"

Somehow, that joke drove off the last of Harry's mood. He probably wasn't the only person irritated by Wizarding Britain's apparent obsession with his private life.

"Well, they won't be pestering me at Hogwarts, at least," he said cheerfully. "Minerva has it well warded against journalists ... and beetles."

 

Of course, that didn't protect him from the consequences of articles. Harry hadn't even unpacked or looked at the lesson plans that he was supposed to be covering before James showed up, with Lily in tow, asking how he was, and how his visit with Mum had been, and transparently hoping that a reconciliation was in the works. Harry discouraged him gently, and they didn't quite fight, although that, Harry thought, was largely due to Lily's presence. Fortunately, Quidditch season had started up again, so Harry asked about it, and his children responded with a wealth of opinion about the various house teams.

Albus, always more subtle, visited after dinner, offered to help with the unpacking, and asked politely how "everyone" was. If he was more interested in his mother's reaction to the article than in Aunt Hermione's research advancements, he didn't show it. It had taken having a Slytherin child, Harry thought, to teach him the advantages to it.

"How's Scorpius?" he asked, in a sudden burst of charity, and his younger son's habitual reserve dissolved into the beaming smile that made him question the boy's attachment to the young Malfoy in particular, and eventual romantic proclivities in general.

"Great! You can actually meet him, Dad -- I mean, since you'll be here. You can meet all my friends!"

Harry smiled at his enthusiasm. "I won't be able to not meet your friends -- unless some are N.E.W.T.-level students that dropped Defense against the Dark Arts."

"Oh!" Albus looked abashed. "Would you believe I hadn't thought of that?"

"Really? I thought you thought of everything."

"Well, I've been planning extensively how to ask Professor Wandwright for permission to invite you to the Slytherin common room."

Grinning, Harry reached out and ruffled the boy's hair. "All that effort for nothing! Though I'll come if you want it, and she says it's all right."

"Would you, Dad? That would be brilliant!"

It was only later, as he was relaxing in the bath, that it occurred to Harry that the entire conversation might have been engineered to finesse his acceptance of the invitation. He flopped back against the cushioned end of the bath and laughed.

 

Professor Blood's injuries were extensive, and not all purely physical. When Minerva had called Harry about stepping in as a substitute, she had told him that the post would run to two months, or possibly three. Initially, he had been surprised to be asked. He'd never taught children, after all, although he had given a few classes to Auror groups. Upon reflection, he had realized that he was probably the most qualified person that she could get on three days' notice. One way or another, people without regular jobs weren't usually ones that you wanted talking about Dark Arts to impressionable school children.

Harry spent hours poring over Blood's lesson plans, changing them into something he could teach with sincerity and interest, and expanding the details so he wouldn't get lost.

"Still here, Harry?"

Harry looked up to see Minerva McGonagall entering the staff room. He smiled. "And you're back."

"Only to retrieve my shawl. You, however...."

"Working on lesson plans."

The headmistress bent over his parchment, as if he were a student that she was supervising.

"These, Mr Potter, are lesson plans for next Thursday. As much as I admire your -- belated -- development of scholarly industry, these do not require burning the midnight oil."

"I thought if I could get through all of the next three months --"

"If you compose plans for the next three months in this level of detail, you will need constantly to revise them. An outline, Harry, not an essay, is what you need for lessons more than a week away."

She left her place behind his shoulder and sat, instead, in a nearby chair. "Harry. Tell me about your week."

"I..." He floundered in the space left by the gentle demand. "It was okay, I suppose. We didn't get much done the first two days. Everyone had to get over my name and my reputation -- or reputations, really, with the older classes -- and in my kids' classes, it was different, but just as much...." He shrugged. "Yeah. Being able to speak would help, wouldn't it?"

Her mouth quirked into a smile. "In my experience, you possess a simple but true eloquence when you are sure of your subject -- and Defense Against the Dark Arts was a subject that you taught as a child."

"That was -- I had to. And they didn't expect me to be like a real professor."

"Someone had to, yes. And you were willing to be the one who did. That's still true." She leaned forward. "There is no way to learn to be a professor but to do it. All of us felt this same insecurity when we first began to teach. From everything I have heard, however -- officially and unofficially -- your performance is more than adequate." With a light pat to his arm, she rose. "Falling asleep in lessons, however, may dim your lustre considerably. Good night, Professor."

With that, she sailed out of the room.

For a minute, Harry just sat and stared at his papers. Did other people really feel like this? Had she? Yes, he had made good progress, but the lessons were a full week behind Professor Blood's syllabus, and what if he never caught up?

Finally, he rubbed his eyes, and then shook his head. This was ridiculous. Minerva was right; obsessing over this wouldn't help him. Sighing, he cast a drying spell on his most recent notes, repacked his bag, and headed back to his rooms.

Once there, though, he found that he didn't want to go to bed. He was accustomed to an active life, and hours at a desk had left him restless. What he really wanted, he thought, was to go for a ramble, but it was the middle of the night. He couldn't go out on the grounds. He couldn't even go wandering around the corridors, like...

Like Snape used to. Harry took a long breath. He could. He was a professor, and there was no one to stop him from walking around the castle whatever the hour. After that, it took only moments to realize that he could also go to any part of the castle he wished, barring private rooms and dormitories. He turned slowly, imaging exploring at his leisure. He'd need the Marauder's Map, of course, and a spell to temporarily mark where he had been. He shook his head. "I can't believe I didn't pack the Map," he muttered. "Maybe fatherhood has made me a bit too responsible. I'll Floo home tomorrow. I need more socks anyway."

 

The next evening, Harry set off as soon as the children were all -- theoretically -- in their dormitories. He had decided that half an hour of exploring -- an hour at most -- would be a good way to end each evening. That should stretch out the activity through most of his stay at the school.

Intending to be methodical, he started at the top of one of the smaller towers and began to work his way down, opening every room that he could along the way. A spell on the map overlaid a transparent red line where he walked, so he wouldn't get confused and redo sections. Despite knowing that he had the right to walk where he wished, Harry couldn't help feeling uneasy. The dark corridors evoked memories of younger years, and he found himself listening for Filch's uneven gait, or the whisper of robes that had barely preceded Snape. It seemed almost unbelievable that his old professor was not haunting these halls, summoned by Harry's insolence in exploring after hours. Repeatedly, he set these thoughts out of his mind to open another door, on another dusty room. Many were empty, but a few had interesting -- or uninteresting -- contents.

He was just closing the door to a room full of bed ladders when he heard a thump. Whirling, he found his Lumos reflecting off the eyes of Squire Tom, successor to the line of Mrs. Norris. I have a right to be here. I can't get in trouble for it. Harry tried to bolster the thoughts by straightening up and putting his shoulders back. He had regained at least his outward dignity by the time Filch hobbled quickly around the corner.

"I've got you, y--" The old caretaker froze. "Professor, sir," he said, yanking off his hat and bobbing his head quickly down. "Begging your pardon. I thought it was some of those kids, trying a new spot."

Harry wanted to laugh. Filch's ridiculous deference made his fears seem absurd. It was like conjuring light and watching a mountain troll turn back into a laden hatrack.

"No problem," he said casually. "Just taking an evening walk."

"As you wish, Professor," Filch agreed quickly. "But you'd have better hunting in the Astronomy Tower or Gryffindor Tower, if you take my meaning."

Harry fixed him with the gaze he used on overly familiar politicians. "Hunting is not the objective. I wanted some exercise. Teaching doesn't match up to testing duels with Aurors." He knew he sounded stuffy, but he couldn't help it. This was Filch, bowing and scraping, but still being offensive.

Filch didn't take the hint.

"Eh, well if it's exercise you want, hunting is the thing, sir, mark my words. A man in your condition might be able to run down the little buggers."

Harry rolled his eyes. "I'll keep it mind, Mr. Filch. Now if you don't mind...?"

Apologetically, Filch backed off. "I won't go taking any more of your time, Professor. Back to my duties, now." With that, he shuffled off around the corner. His cat stared for a moment longer, and then followed. Harry waited for the sound of footsteps going down the stairs before moving himself.

So much for the fear of Filch. I wonder if it's like this for other former students when they start teaching here. Snape must have had a time of it; he would have been scarcely out of school when he returned. Harry had never thought of it that way before. He could see Snape standing in his place, more vicious, but perhaps, at that age, no more natural in his assumed dignity. Did he want to explore, too? I always thought he was just about for the pleasure of catching us out -- hunting, as Filch said, but maybe he enjoyed the freedom? Having the castle to himself, like this? And students would have been doubly annoying, in that case.

He found himself wishing that he could ask, professor to professor, although possibly Snape wouldn't have answered, even so. He couldn't quite imagine it, even now that he was trying. If Snape had lived, if he was still a professor, if he were to encounter Harry late at night, walking in these empty corridors.... Would he still froth and rant, furious that he was unable to punish his former student, and would Harry still grow angry at the threat, or would they, possibly, have some more mature interaction, now?

 

The next night, Harry found himself turning down the stairs, rather than up, as if Snape's ghost might be waiting underground to appraise him. Unlike the towers, with their absolute boundaries, the corridors of the dungeons spread in a labyrinth of paths, turning rather than ending, changing rather than meeting, and he could never see a distinct section to call complete. He started at the lowest level, where the rooms moved beyond the bounds of the castle, as if the ancient building had sent out roots into the surrounding land. Harry had to zigzag and loop back to see everything. Every room he came to, he entered. Most, like those above, were empty, or contained only dusty furniture. Occasionally, they were locked with spells, which usually indicated a place in more active use. He found a student retreat with blankets on the floor, and another room with a covered cauldron, currently cold and empty. The latter he marked on the map for checking later -- if it was a student brewing unsupervised, it might bear watching.

He passed his half-hour, and then his upper limit of an hour. In the tower, he had stopped after finishing a floor, but here the floor went on and on, sometimes sloping down or up, so a staircase might start and end on the same arcing corridor. I want to stop at a point I can remember, he told himself, but it was more than that. The heady excitement of being beyond student rules was even stronger here than on the upper floors. Here, the damp stone smelled like a child's dangers, like trailing Malfoy, like evading Snape. It drew him on.

In a damp corridor, when he had seen nothing but mildew and dust for twenty rooms, he yawned. The yawn triggered another, and he cast a time charm, only to blink at the phantom clock face. "It's past two? Oh hell." Sighing, he rubbed his eyes and unfolded the map to see where he was.

The map showed his location, further away from the last set of stairs than he had expected. Confusingly, it also showed a room just beside him, with the door several paces behind. Am I tired enough to miss that? Harry turned. He couldn't see a door. Carefully, he put his hand lightly on the wall and began to walk back, keeping one eye on the map and feeling for the tingle of magic that might indicate that something had been disguised.

It was nothing so subtle. His touch moved from stone to wood.

The effect was odd. The area under his hand looked like rough stone, but he could feel wood, in vertical boards, and his fingertips moved smoothly over it, in and out of the surface roughness of the stone that appeared to be there. He swept his hand back and forth, finding first the edges of the door and then, finally, the hard metal of a plate and ring. Only then, on the verge of pulling it open, did he remember to step back and check for hexes. There was one very simple protection on the door, and an even more standard locking spell. Harry undid them both, found the ring again, and pulled.

The room was small, but unlit. Across from the door was a dark sarcophagus, an effigy of a man atop it. Harry felt his blood chill at the sight. Was this the beginning of some area of tombs? Had early headmasters been buried down here, like bishops in their cathedral? He raised his wand high to cast a wider circle of light.

"Lumos Maximus!"

It wasn't an effigy. For one frozen moment, Harry was looking at Snape, hooked nose rising from a gaunt face, all as pale and lifeless as if carved from beeswax. Blood had aged to brown on his neck, and had pooled below his shoulder, and had dripped from the slab....

Harry jerked back into the corridor. He shoved the door closed and bound it shut with a spell that he hadn't known he had remembered. In seconds, he was running, pounding down the grim corridors for the comfort of the floors above.

 

In the Entrance Hall, Harry stopped, bending over to keep strained muscles from cramping as he gasped for breath. He had good endurance -- some of his jobs required it -- but the ungoverned run and the panic behind it had taxed him. He felt ridiculous at having fled from something that could not harm him. True danger he knew how to face, but this nightmare was another story. He saw it again -- Snape's waxy skin, the flakes of blood on his stone bed, the stain below where it had dripped down. Fiercely, he focused on the stairway, forcing himself to see the rising steps.

He needed to go to bed, he knew. Somehow, he doubted that he would sleep much. In the morning, he should tell Minerva that he had found the body. They would have another burial, and possibly a second memorial service, and the past would move just a little further away.

 

Harry woke feeling queasy, as if he had been drinking late. Memory, rather than drifting back, returned with hammering blows. He had been exploring, and he had found Severus Snape, laid out dead in his own blood.

Harry couldn't shake the feeling of wrongness that hung about the memory. He tried to shower, but he couldn't, not even with the curtain spelled transparent so he could see the room outside. He got out, dried off, and used spells to finish cleaning his skin and hair. It would make his hair stick up more, but who would notice, really?

With his hand hovering over his socks, he hesitated, instinct finally tipping into knowledge. It's been twenty-two years -- more. He should be decayed, shouldn't he? The room should smell. His face... Carefully and reluctantly, Harry pulled back the horrifying image. Except for the waxy pallor, Snape's face had looked normal. His lips had even covered his teeth. Unless I'm filling in with what I know he looked like, but I don't think I am. So someone must have arranged him afterwards, and put him under some sort of-- what? Preservation spell? Who? Why? Why not say where he was? Will they know someone entered the room?

There was no hope for it. He had to return and look again. Harry discarded the idea of leaving the second visit until he could bring Minerva. He couldn't bear the thought of admitting to Professor McGonagall that he had fled at a glimpse of the body. He also couldn't lead her into danger, and if the mysterious person who had left Snape's body there had also left monitoring charms, danger was a definite possibility.

After a couple of decades, what difference does another day make?

 

Harry went to his lessons and taught, trying not to let lack of sleep show. He was exhausted by the time of his last class, sixth-year Gryffindors and Slytherins. To his relief, they had a test, giving him time to think his own thoughts. At least it's Friday, so I can sleep late tomorrow, and catch up on work-- Harry groaned. He had a dinner scheduled with Ron and Hermione, and he couldn't just cancel, because Hermione had tickets to a show that Parvati was in, and it had been a couple of years since he had seen her last. Damn. How the hell can I mark seventy-two essays before Monday? Why did I say Friday for all of them?

He knew from experience that examining a body was best done during the day. Even if you were somewhere that you couldn't tell the sun was up, your mind seemed to know the difference on some animal level. He had certainly looked at enough of them, over the years; he just had to disassociate this one from Severus Snape, war hero and spy, whom he had watched die; and from Professor Snape, scourge of his school days, who had hated him and resented him, and even in death, still made him want to fight or run.

The thought of danger was cheering, really. If there were traps, or an ambush, then he had something to do. The worst thing about corpses -- well, non-animated ones -- is that you can't change anything. I hate feeling helpless.

Directly after lessons, he started down to the dungeons. Many students were doing the same, and it didn't take long before a small figure split off from his friends and galloped recklessly down the steps to catch up with him.

"Hey, Dad! Are you coming for a visit?"

A greeting from any of his children -- especially the teenagers -- was cheering, but Harry didn't want anyone following him on this.

"Business, I'm afraid." Briefly, he put a hand on Albus's shoulder. "But don't worry. Not Slytherin." If I'm lucky, Al will assume I have a meeting with the Potions instructor. Best to cut him off before he asks. "Shall I stop by on the way back?"

Albus hesitated. "Will you be long? We have Quidditch practice in an hour, and the walk...."

They had reached the end of the steps, and the other Slytherins were catching up.

"Oh, I'll see you there, then!" Harry exclaimed. That would be fun, and more likely to get Albus out of the way in the meantime. Albus wasn't as Quidditch-mad as his Gryffindor siblings, but he had flown all his life and was an excellent Seeker: small, sharp-eyed, and quick. The Slytherin team was always pleased to have their Seeker's famous father show up; despite his resolve to the contrary, Harry could never keep from giving them tips. Oh well, he thought. I'll just have to drop in on the other teams' practices as well -- or at least Gryffindor's -- to keep it fair.

A cluster of Slytherin boys passed them and slowed, shifting back and forth as if pretending they were moving at a normal speed. Scorpius Malfoy, his pale hair conspicuous in the dark corridor, looked back.

"Asp? Are you coming?"

Harry looked down at Albus. "Asp?" he asked incredulously. Albus blushed. Someone was thwapping Scorpius with a roll of parchment.

"Um ... initials," Albus explained. "Later?"

"Right. Later."

Albus -- Asp? -- ran off with his friends. Harry shook his head. Well, at least that spot of embarrassment makes him less likely to follow me. I obviously wasn't supposed to hear that nickname.

The element of domestic normality steadied him, and when he reached the door, his standard litany of trap-detecting and spy-detecting and curse-detecting spells calmed him still further. Harry re-entered the room in no mood to be shaken by something so harmless as a corpse.

He spotted a torch behind the platform and conjured fire to light it. Under that brighter light, he cast further spells. The room had no other exits. It was a small rectangle, and the structure that held the body did look like a sarcophagus. Another diagnostic spell told Harry that it was hollow, but empty. It didn't even show the tickle of spiders and mice. That in mind, he cast around the room. There was nothing alive in here at all, which would indicate that something was repelling the incidental creatures of the dungeons. He noted that as evidence of someone deliberately preparing the space. A small valise, of the sort often used to carry potions in the field, sat on the floor to one side.

Finding no threat, Harry allowed his attention to return to the body. Except for the rusty flaking crust of dried blood, Snape looked like he had died just minutes before. His lips were no thinner than they had been, and his eyes rounded up under the closed lids. That blood, though, had dried over the wound and the fabric below it. The shoulder of Snape's black robes had corroded to a rusty, uneven net of threads that looked like it would crumble away if Harry touched it.

Snape's hands looked perfect. The fingers were full, and gracefully curved, as if in rest. In the right, he held a capped potion vial with some brown stuff inside it.

Harry moved forward to look for a label. Glass crunched under his foot, and his hand went to the slab for support. Immediately, he jerked back. The stone had squished down under his touch. Transfiguration! Perhaps the body isn't so well preserved after all. Bracing himself for an unpleasant revelation, he cast spells to return a transfigured object to its true form. Nothing happened. Snape's face didn't shrink over his skull; the table didn't turn to a couch. Queasily, Harry tested the surface of the slab again, this time with a single finger. It felt familiar. An Elementi charm identified it as granite. He began to laugh, the sound echoing hysterically in the low-ceilinged room. A simple cushioning charm!

When he had calmed, he couldn't help wondering what the point was. Dead men did not need cushioning charms. For the sake of completeness, he cast a few diagnostic charms that he had learned in Auror training, but they told him only what he had expected. Snape's heart did not beat, even slowly. His blood was still.

Harry looked at the body laid out before him, and wished, as many times before, that he had been able to save the man. If he had known even the few first aid charms that he learned in Auror training, he might have been able to staunch the flow of blood and slow the poison to keep Snape alive until someone could go back for him. It weighed on him more heavily than the deaths that had happened in his absence. There was no way he could have saved Remus, he knew, but he had been close enough to save Snape, if only he had known what to do.

Then there were the memories that Snape had given him. It was painful to reach an understanding of someone when your differences were past mending. Harry would have liked to have taken that knowledge and tried to breach the wall between them -- to ask about his mother, or perhaps about his aunt, since Snape would have been likely to speak more freely of an enemy. A mutual enemy is a safe place to start. He traced his hand an inch above Snape's face, observing how death had softened, rather than deepened, the lines of care and anger there. He was young, really.

"I gave your name to my second son," he said quietly. "You would have hated that, when you were alive -- Severus bracketed by Albus and Potter. I chose to think you'd be wiser now, if you're anything at all -- too wise to see offense in gratitude and respect. I was all ready to like you, you know, that first day of lessons. You were impressive. And then you were horrible to me." He shrugged. "Anyway, Albus Severus Potter -- Malfoy's son calls him 'Asp', I just heard -- he's mine, but he's one of yours, too. Slytherin. And really, I'm okay with that. Though it helps that I think letting the Hat put him in Slytherin may have been braver than anything James has ever done. And my daughter is Lily, after my mum."

Sighing, Harry took a step back. "Goodbye, Severus. I'm sorry I didn't know what to do. Minerva added healing spells to the Charms curriculum, because so many of us said that after the battle -- that we hadn't known what to do. I'll bring her down this evening, and we'll have you buried properly."

Feeling better, but embarrassed for it, he backed out of the room and resealed it. Minerva could wait until dinner. For now, there was healing sunlight and a boisterous Quidditch practice waiting for him outside the castle.

 

Minerva was not at dinner. Harry asked Professor Durand for news.

"Edinburgh, to visit a friend," she answered. "She expects to be back on Sunday afternoon." Harry's face must have shown his distress. "Is it urgent?"

Harry shrugged. "No." A wry humor twisted his mouth. "It's about Severus Snape, and there's little less urgent than someone who's twenty-two years' dead."

"Nothing you'll regret telling his namesake, I hope?" Durand asked, leaning closer. Harry shot her a glare.

"No. You weren't his colleague, Constance; don't press."

She sat back. "As you wish. Now, Mr. Potter, I have a bone to pick with you! I've heard you were coaching the Slytherin Quidditch team this afternoon."

"Only incidentally. It's not my fault that Albus makes it a pleasure to visit."

"Deliberately, I expect," Durand said tartly. "James may have yet to learn that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but at least you know he's sincere."

Harry glared at her. "Albus is as well. Don't doubt that, just because he knows how to show it." Sighing, he sagged back. "But I will stop by the next Gryffindor practice as well. I'd already decided that I should."

"Good. Don't forget which house is your own."