Harry’s in the library, working on one of Professor Lupin’s essays when he corners her again. “Ah, Miss Potter,” he says, voice soft.
She looks up in surprise. Harry honestly didn’t know that Professors went into the library. “Professor Lupin,” she says, guarded. “How can I help you?”
Ever since her little outburst in his classroom, Lupin has been giving Harry a wide berth. When she asks Tom about it, he tells her that she probably scared him off. He calls on her in class and lets her do demonstrations in front of the class, but he’s stopped any effort to become closer to her. “I was hoping..” he pauses, like he’s uncertain of himself. He’s looking more wan than usual, skin waxen and eyes tired. “I was hoping to offer you private lessons.”
Harry’s brow furrows. “Private lessons?” She’s sure she sounds dubious, but can’t bring herself to care.
“I know you had difficulty with the dementors,” he says. Harry flushes despite herself. The story of her falling off her broom had rapidly spread around Hogwarts.
She raises her chin. “I did.”
He shifts, doesn’t meet her eyes. “I could... teach you. How to fight them off.” Lupin glances up, hair falling over his eyes. He’s so genuine, it almost hurts Harry’s heart. “And. I would like to get to know you better. James and Lily were some of my closest friends.”
“So, you knew Black, then,” Harry assumes, carefully watching his reaction. There’s a flicker of pain that flashes across his face, but otherwise he remains calm at the sound of the name.
“Yes,” Lupin says, thoughtful. “I knew Sirius.” He shakes his head. “It’s still hard for me to reconcile the Sirius I knew with the one he must have become in order to betray Lily and James. He loved James, so much.” His voice breaks, and Harry finally sees his masks slip off his face. There’s a raw agony written into the lines of his face at the mention of his friend and Harry’s parents.
She softens, a little. Finally understanding what this might mean to him, she decides to accept the olive branch he’s clearly offering her. “I’d love to take private lessons with you, Professor,” she says, earnestly. She pauses, unsure if she should continue. “You wouldn’t happen to have any pictures of them, would you? It’s just that I’ve never seen their faces.”
Harry watches with interest as his face lights up at the first part of her words, before collapsing in on itself. “You’ve... you’ve never seen their faces?” Harry shakes her head in answer. Lupin takes a moment to pull himself together. “Of course, I’ll put some together for you. Come to my classroom this evening. Eight?”
Harry nods, smiling hesitantly at him. He returns it, if not a little forced. She thinks she appreciates the effort anyhow.
“You’re doing what? With Lupin?” Draco’s outraged when Harry tells him her plans for that night. He’s sitting across from her, fork halfway to his mouth. Zabini is on her other side and she can feel him snickering silently.
Harry grins shamelessly, cutting into her chicken. “I’m taking private lessons. He said he’d show me how to fight off the Dementors.”
Draco lets his fork clatter to his plate. “You actually want to study with him? I thought you hated Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
Harry shrugs, unconcerned. “I hated the professors. Quirrell, for obvious reasons. Lockheart as well.” Tom makes a sound in her mind, like he’s clearing his throat. “May he get well soon.”
Apparently, before Ginny-possessed-by-Tom came by the Hospital Wing to abduct Harry, she had made a pit stop by Lockheart’s classroom. The man had a terrible accident, resulting in his lost memory, and it was unlikely it would ever return. It was officially declared an accident, but Tom had told her what had really happened.
“I think I’ll like Lupin more,” Harry continues. “He was friends with my parents. He’s going to show me pictures of them.”
At that, Draco’s face softens minutely. He knew how much she misses never growing up with parents. “Fine,” he says, moodily. “But you better show me everything he teaches you.”
Harry crosses her legs at the ankle. Uncrosses them. Crosses them at the knee. Uncrosses them again. “Would you,” Tom says from her side, rubbing his temples, “please stop that.”
She’s sitting alone in Lupin’s classroom waiting for him to arrive. There’s a strange clawing anxiety in her stomach, and she starts twisting her fingers together instead. “Why? Is it bothering you?”
“You’re giving me a migraine,” he answers, eyes shut. He presses the palms of his hands into his eyes, a distinct air of his irritation rolling over Harry’s skin at his actions. It looks like the diary tonight, and now she can feel the barest flicker of her Tom’s interest. He doesn’t like Lupin much at all, although Harry’s not sure why.
Harry shrugs, crossing her legs again. “I didn’t know I could give you a migraine. I thought that was just something you gave to me.”
Tom drops his hands. “You’ve learned something today, then.” He turns towards her, smiles sardonically.
“You’re in a bad mood today,” Harry accuses.
“What gave it away?” His shoulders are tight with tension. “My other half would prefer not to be here.”
Harry probes in her mind towards her Tom, but he’s blocking any attempts at communication. “Did he tell you that?” Before Tom can answer, the door to the classroom is swinging open.
“Ah, Harry, good,” Lupin says, sounding flustered. “Er, were you talking to someone?”
Harry does her best not to make eye contact with Tom. “I wasn’t, sorry. It must have been someone else.”
He doesn’t press the issue, but Harry can tell he still looks a little confused. “Apologies for running late,” he says. “I wanted to stop by my quarters to bring these to you.”
He holds out a stack of photographs to Harry, which she accepts to eagerly. There’s a tight compressed feeling in her chest as she glances at the first picture. It’s a Muggle photograph, still, and it's what she assumes is her mother and father. Lily is wearing a long white dress, James in neat, black dress robes. They’re staring into each other’s eyes, and Harry knows it’s from their wedding.
With shaking hands, she moves to the next one. It’s magic, and James and Lily are spinning around a dance floor, still in their wedding clothes. She traces the shapes of their movements, watches as Lily throws her head back in laughter. Her mother’s face is flushed and her eyes are bright, and Harry would like to think she can see herself in the lines of Lily’s face, in the way she laughs and in the crinkles at the corners of her eyes.
The next picture is also magic, and it shows a group of five individuals. Harry recognizes a younger Lupin, Lily and James, but not the other two. Lupin must catch her confusion because he leans over. His voice is soft when he answers her unspoken question. “The one next to me on the left is Peter Pettigrew. He was one of our friends at Hogwarts. The man next to your father is Sirius Black.”
Harry’s interest is piqued immediately. She inspects it closer. Sirius Black was a handsome man, she admits. He’s got his arm thrown around James’s shoulders, and the two of them are laughing uproariously. Lily is on the other side of James, her arm around his waist and a soft look on her face as she watches James and Sirius.
“They look...” her voice catches in her throat. She clears it, puts the picture gently down, and clenches her fist. “How could he do it?”
She doesn’t specify who she’s talking about, but Lupin doesn’t need to ask for clarification. He pales, but he looks like he’s considering her question seriously. “I’ve wondered the same thing myself for many years. There would be days where I couldn’t believe what had happened.” He laughs, without humor. “One night, and I’d lost the four best friends I’d ever had.”
Lupin jerks his chin towards the picture on her lap. Black and her father are still laughing. “Peter Pettigrew. He was murdered by Sirius a few days after your parents died.” Harry blanches, looks back down at the picture. Pettigrew doesn’t look like anything special, with pale blonde hair and rosy cheeks, but he’s smiling so brightly it’s hard to imagine him lifeless. “Blew him and half the street to hell. Twelve Muggles killed, and all they found of Peter was his finger.”
“He looks so... normal. So happy. Black, I mean.”
Lupin nods. “He and James... they were closer than any of us were. I always thought Sirius was half in love with James. He hated Lily when she and James first started dating. They never told me what happened between them, but one day he was cursing her for catching James’s attention, and the next, they were thick as thieves.” His voice is fond, and there’s a wistful look in his eyes. “That picture was taken just after we graduated. Before the war started.
“Once the war started, it was different. Harder to spend time together. All the rumors and conspiracy, we didn’t know who to trust. I always thought we’d be friends forever. That the bonds we had formed at Hogwarts would last us a lifetime. Sirius and I... someone was trying to turn us against each other. We all knew there was a mole. I suspected, but... no...”
Harry’s hanging off his every word. “You suspected that Black was the mole?”
Lupin is shaking his head, even before she finishes speaking. “No, no, I don’t know what I thought. No matter what I believed at the time, he was their Secret Keeper. Who else could it have been?”
A little part of her falls at those words. Maybe she had been holding out, hoping that it actually wasn’t him.
Lupin laughs again, drawing her out of her thoughts. “He was the first one there. After it happened.”
“He was the first person to go to their house in Godric’s Hollow after it all happened.” Lupin shakes his head. “Wasn’t it enough? Selling out his best friends? His goddaughter? I’ve never been able to understand why. Why did he need to see them, after? Is that how he wanted to remember them? After all this time?”
He sounds so lost that Harry wants to reassure him, hug him, do something to pull him out of this hell. She can tell by the ache in his voice that he’s been trying to find the answer to these questions for years. Maybe since her parents died.
“I’m sorry,” she says quietly. “I shouldn’t have asked.”
“No,” Lupin says forcefully, seemingly shocked out of his torment. “Never apologize for asking questions. If anyone deserves to know, it’s you.”
Harry stands, smoothes her skirt down with her hands. Lupin is watching her, slightly wary, but with warm eyes. She moves towards him, unsure. Slowly, she slides her arms around his middle, hugging him tightly.
He freezes for a moment. Harry wonders briefly if she’s just made a terrible mistake, but before she can pull away, his arms are locking around her and holding her tightly. He smells like the library, parchment and ink and a hint of smoke, and Harry wonders if this is how it feels to have someone who’s been carrying the same burden as her, someone who knows, intimately, what she’s lost. The only other person she’s ever hugged is Tom, and she knows, now, it’s not the same.
From inside her, anger flares, hot and jealous and hurt. Her scar lights up with pain, like someone’s driving a nail into her forehead. Harry gasps, stumbling back, out of Lupin’s arms. She claps a hand to her forehead and blinks back tears. Enough she hisses, clenching her jaw.
“Harry? Are you alright?” Looking up, she sees Lupin hovering near her, face drawn with worry.
She waves him off. After a few more moments of excruciating pain, Tom relents. “I already told you,” the other Tom finally says, from his place where Harry had been sitting. She’d forgotten he was there until now. “He doesn’t want to be here. He doesn’t like the professor.”
“I’m okay,” she answers Professor Lupin, instead of Tom. “I get migraines,” she lies smoothly. “They come on sudden.”
He nods, and watches her with worry a second longer before moving on. “We should start the lesson, before it gets too late.” Harry mumbles her agreement. When Lupin turns around to grab a book from his bag, she exchanges a long glance with Tom, an unspoken promise to discuss tonight later passing between them. “I thought tonight, we would start with the theoretical application of the Patronus charm. It can be tricky to perform, even for the most talented of wizards and witches...”
Harry frames the still picture of her parents from their wedding and sets it on the table by her bed. It makes her feel a little like they’re watching over her, even when she’s sleeping. She hides the rest, the ones of Black and her father, at the bottom of her trunk. She’ll decide what to do with them later.
Christmas comes up on Harry almost by surprise. She’s been so caught up in Quidditch, classes, and her private lessons with Lupin that when winter break began, she isn’t ready for it. Both Draco and Hermione are going home for the holidays, so Harry’s left with Tom, Basil, and Lupin.
“Hurry up, would you?” Tom calls over his shoulder, already at the bottom of the stairs.
Why couldn’t we do this during the day? Harry grumbles, wrapping her scarf tighter around her neck and chin. One thing she’s discovered about Hogwarts during the winter holidays is the lack of heat. Apparently, when a majority of the students leave, it no longer becomes as important to keep the whole castle warm. Harry has taken to wearing two pairs of socks.
“The location of the kitchens is the worst-kept secret in Hogwarts,” Tom says in reply. “That being said, it’s still a secret.”
Harry wants to roll her eyes, but doesn’t want to set Tom off. The more time she’s spent with Lupin, the more irritable he’s become. The diary part of him doesn’t seem to mind so much, but Harry’s Tom absolutely loathes him.
They finally reach a portrait of a pear. “Great,” she says. “What now?”
Tom doesn’t even waste any of his time hushing her. He’s got his back turned to her and he does something that Harry can’t see. The painting swings open, and Tom steps through, still ignoring her. Rolling her eyes, she hurries after him.
When they’re finally situated, Harry with her hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate and nibbling on a piece of toast and Tom sitting across from her, he stares at her intensely. Both Tom’s are together now, but the house elves don’t seem to mind the extra person sitting in the kitchen. His eyes are paler than usual today, and his gaze seems to burn into her.
“What?” Harry asks, doing her best not to squirm under his scrutiny.
“I got something for you,” he says finally, reaching over to grab the bag he’d made Harry bring with them. “For Christmas.”
Harry blinks. Opens her mouth. Decides she doesn’t know what to say to that. “How?”
Tom pushes a parcel towards her, wrapped in brown paper, with twine tying it shut. It’s simple and understated and exactly what Harry would have pictured a gift from him looking like. “Owl-order,” he says. “Open it.”
She rolls her eyes, but unties the twine on his command. Peeling the paper back, she peers at his gift. “Is this supposed to be some kind of joke?” She looks back up at him. “If so, it’s not very funny.”
In front of her is a simple brown journal, with a silver clasp, the covers made of what feels like leather. “He said you’d say that,” Tom says, shrugging. He doesn’t specify which one of them guessed her reaction. “No, it’s not a joke.”
His face turns serious, pensive in a way Harry’s familiar seeing. “I thought it might help you,” he says. “To write down how you’re feeling. I’ve heard that can be helpful. It’s charmed, too, so only you will be able to read what’s written there.”
“And... you’re not trying to encourage me to create a Horcrux, right?”
Tom’s face remains impassive, but she can see his hands twitch and knows he wants to rub his temples in the way he does when he’s tired and irritated. “You know the answer to that.”
His expression turns contemplative. “I also don’t even know if you could become a Horcrux. You’re already carrying a piece of my soul and I don’t know if that would allow you to split your own, magically speaking. What if a piece of mine got carved along with yours?”
He sounds like he could go on at length on the subject. Harry decides to head him off early. “Alright, alright, I get the point.” She opens the journal, dragging her fingers lightly across the creamy pages. They’re soft and slightly coarse, and Harry feels a sudden rush of emotion at the gift before her. It’s the first outward sign of affection Tom has ever given her, the first acknowledgement of his attachment to her. “Thank you,” she says suddenly, looking up to catch his eyes.
Tom nods his head slightly. “Now I feel bad because I didn’t get you anything,” Harry teases. He doesn’t answer, and Harry admires his restraint. She thinks the pleased look that softens his eyes and the corners of his lips is worth it, though.
“No way,” Harry gasps. Did you do this? she asks Tom, brimming with excitement. He gives her a bored look. Glances down at the gift, still laying half-wrapped in her lap.
“I should think not,” he says snidely. “When did I ever give you the impression I wanted you to continue that ridiculous endeavor?”
No need to be so sour about it Harry mutters, but her irritation with Tom is quickly forgotten as she looks back down at the present she’s just received.
A brand new Firebolt. The best broom on the market right now. The fastest broom ever made.
Flint is going to piss himself when he sees this Harry crows, finishing pulling the wrapping paper off her new broom. He’ll never believe it.
“Yes,” Tom says dryly. “How special. I do believe you’ve dropped something.”
In her haste and excitement, Harry had missed a small piece of paper that had fluttered to the floor. She bends down to scoop it up, smoothing it flat across her bed.
Please don’t fall off this one. It would be embarrassing for all involved.’
She can’t help the smile that flashes across her face at the words. She traces the ink with a finger, trying to imagine who could have written this, to know her so intimately and yet still be such a stranger. Do you think it’s from Lupin? Whoever wrote this clearly understands her, or is at least similar enough to her to understand her humor.
Tom frowns. “I hardly think he could afford something like that. Have you seen the state of his robes?”
Harry rolls her eyes, still staring at her gift. You sound like Draco she informs Tom haughtily, and he stops talking, although Harry can still sense him fuming in her mind.
So few people decided to remain at the school over the holidays, the professors decided to seat everyone at one table for Christmas lunch. Both the Weasley twins and Ron had stayed over break, along with a slight girl from Ravenclaw that Harry can’t name, and a seventh year Hufflepuff.
Professors Snape, McGonnagal, and Trewlany sit at the top of the table, and Dumbledore sits at the head, fingers steepled together.
Harry does her best to avoid walking close to him when she enters the hall, giving his chair a wide berth. She can tell Tom thinks she’s being ridiculous, but he doesn’t say anything.
She’s halfway down the table before anyone seems to take notice of her. “Harry!” Fred Weasley exclaims brightly. He turns to his twin, sat next to him on the bench. “George, look! Harry’s come up for Christmas lunch. How kind of her, eh?”
He’s not taken any effort to lower his voice and as a result of there only being about seven other people in the Great Hall, the minimal conversation dies down as everyone turns to look at her.
“Why,” George proclaims, a look of fake shock crossing his face, “do you see what I do, dear brother?”
Fred looks her up and down with aplomb. “I believe I do, George.”
They wink at Harry simultaneously. “Nice sweater,” George says. “Mum knitted us ones as well, like usual.”
“She knitted our initials on them,” Fred adds. “She didn’t for you, though. She must assume you know your own name.”
Harry glances down at her outfit. She’s wearing an emerald green sweater that almost perfectly matches her eyes. It had been part of her Christmas gift from the Weasleys, along with a handwritten note from Mrs. Weasley, thanking Harry again profusely for saving Ginny the previous year.
(Fred and George had sent Harry their own package, full of new toffees and potions they had been working on and wanted her to test out on her yearmates. She might have been more hesitant to do so, if her feud with Pansy weren’t quite so fresh in her mind.)
“Your sweater has the letter ‘G’ on it,” she points out, gesturing at Fred’s sweater. The twins’ sweaters are in a bright maroon color with a deep gold for the initials. Gryffindor colors, she guesses.
Fred looks down at his chest, like he had forgotten what he was wearing. “Quite right,” he says tapping the side of his nose. “Forge over here opened my gifts.”
“Oi!” George exclaims, pausing in his pursuit to fill his plate with as much bacon and eggs as he could. “I know perfectly well you switched them before I woke up.” Fred just shrugs, and Harry can’t help but grin at their antics.
How you find them amusing is beyond me Tom sighs, looking distinctly put-out.
You should really learn to be more festive, you know Harry tells him.
“C’mon, Harry, come sit.” Fred scoots down on the bench, elbowing Ron in the process. She rounds the end of the table and takes a seat between the twins.
“Thanks,” she says, ignoring the way Ron is gaping in indignation, rubbing his arm. “You two will never believe what I got for Christmas. Gryffindor is never going to win another Quidditch match against Slytherin.”
Harry’s sitting at the end of the Slytherin table in the Great Hall, a few weeks later, frantically scribbling on her Charms essays. Can’t you help at all?
Tom, all crammed in her head for once, doesn’t say anything helpful. Incoming he whispers instead.
“Miss Potter,” Snape’s greasy voice rolls over her almost immediately after. Harry looks up in surprise, dropping her quill.
“Professor Snape,” she answers. Is he really standing here talking to me? I’m not hallucinating, right? Tom continues ignoring her, which Harry thinks is for the best, really. “How can I help you?”
A sneer starts to cross his face, but he straightens his face with clear effort. Harry can’t help herself from watching with fascination. “It has come to my attention that you have received a broom for Christmas. The sender is unknown. Is that correct?”
“Yes?” Harry ventures, unsure of both how Snape heard about her gift and why he was asking her about it.
“You’ll need to give it to me, for the near future,” Snape orders, sounding like the words are coming easier now that he’s telling her what to do.
Harry blinks, sitting up straighter. “Excuse me?” Tom hasn’t said anything, but she can tell his interest has been piqued, judging by the way he’s focusing intently on Snape.
A muscle twitches in Snape’s jaw. “You’ll need to relinquish the broom to me. I, along with Professors Flitwick and McGonagall, will be running tests to make sure it’s not cursed.”
Harry’s jaw falls open and anger rushes through her. “What kinds of tests? Who could possibly want to curse a broom?”
“Might I remind you, Miss Potter,” Snape seems to have drawn himself up even taller, “that Sirius Black is currently targeting you in order to take revenge and your life. It is extremely irresponsible and inconsiderate of you to conveniently forget such information. Now, you will hand over the broom, or I’ll have you permanently barred from the Quidditch team for the rest of your time at Hogwarts.”
“My poor Firebolt,” Harry whimpers, gazing longingly across the hall towards where Flitwick and Snape are talking. Hermione makes a humming noise, but doesn’t look up from her book. “Hermione!” Harry exclaims, fed up with her friend ignoring her.
“Yes?” Hermione answers, looking up briefly.
“Can’t you at least pretend to be a little upset on my behalf?”
Hermione’s hand hesitates for a moment before continuing to turn the page. “Maybe...” she pauses. “Maybe it’s for the best? After all, they’re just trying to keep you safe.”
Harry whips around in indignation. “Keep me safe? Who knows what they’re doing to my beautiful Firebolt! For once, I’m even on the same page as Flint. Flint! He went absolutely mental when I told him what happened, but even he hasn’t been able to convince Snape to give it back to me.” Harry shakes her head, miserable.
Hermione doesn’t say anything else, and seems to be avoiding meeting Harry’s eyes. She turns the page of her book. Suspicion wells up in Harry. “Hermione... what did you do?”
The other girl freezes. She looks up, brown eyes clear with guilt. “Well. I may have heard Ron Weasley talking about your broom in the Gryffindor common room. Apparently his brothers told his mother who told him. She thought Sirius Black might have sent it.” Clearly seeing the anger brewing on Harry’s face, Hermione talks faster. “I thought she might have a point. So, I brought it up with Professor McGonnagal and asked if the school had a responsibility to make sure their students were safe and-”
“I cannot believe you!” Harry’s fuming, ears hot. “You ratted me out?”
Hermione’s leaning forward, eager and serious. “You could have gotten hurt! Think about your fall earlier. What if someone didn’t catch you in time? You didn’t even question who could have sent you the most expensive broom on the market?”
Harry shakes her head. “I can’t believe you did this. Behind my back.”
“Oh, like you would have been in favor of turning your precious broom in? Can you please, for a minute, think about something other than Quidditch? Like your life?” Hermione snaps, growing angrier. “Some people are just trying to protect you. Because they care.” She slams her book shut, shoves it into her bag, and shoots up from the table, storming away.
“I cannot believe her,” Harry repeats dumbly to the seat Hermione just vacated.
“She has a point,” Tom says, materializing by her side. “No signature on the note? You have to admit it’s suspicious.”
I can’t believe you’re taking her side, Harry says in return, unwilling to admit error.
Tom doesn’t say anything, but she can tell he’s just as disturbed by the fact as she is.
It takes Snape and Flitwick two weeks to make sure her broom isn’t cursed. During that time, Harry does her best to avoid Hermione, despite her friend’s efforts to corner her in the halls. It isn’t until Draco gleefully takes Harry’s side in the argument, going out of his way to taunt Hermione in the halls, that she has to put her foot down.
“That’s enough,” she says, throwing her arm across Draco’s chest and drawing him back a step. Hermione, eyes wide and teary, smiles wobbly at Harry. “Leave her alone.”
Draco sputters, makes to protest, but Harry shakes her head firmly. “No.”
“Finally,” Tom drawls from next to her, in the position he’s decided is his. That would be hovering over her shoulder, giving unending commentary on the “drama of his Horcrux’s life” in his own words. “It’s about time you put the little Malfoy in his place.”
Harry almost manages to ignore him. I thought you liked Malfoy more than Hermione? Out loud, she addresses Hermione. “I’m sorry he’s been bothering you.”
“Excuse me,” Draco exclaims. “Apologize for me again and I’ll give you something to apologize for.” Harry silences him with a harsh glare.
She pulls him away before he can say anything else, not trusting whatever she’ll say around Hermione. “At least the muggleborn has some sense of decorum. The Malfoy brat seems to have never heard the word no before he arrived at Hogwarts,” Tom answers finally, moving behind her. Tom has a fair point, but Harry isn’t too interested in letting him know that.
They’re halfway to the library before Draco stops complaining about how unfair she’s behaving. Harry suspects he’d continue, but Snape intercepts and interrupts them before he can. “Miss Potter,” he sneers. “Mr. Malfoy,” he says, more pleasantly, nodding his head to Draco. Harry fumes silently.
“Professor Snape,” she answers hesitantly. She has another lesson with Professor Lupin at the end of the week, plus a full weekend of Quidditch practice and she’s really not looking for a reason for Snape to give her detention. Or, private lessons, as he’s taken to calling them, in an effort to avoid giving detentions to students from his own house. Harry thinks next year, she’ll try to break him into both taking points from Slytherin and into giving her a detention. For now, she holds her tongue reluctantly.
“Imagine that,” Tom says drily. “Harry Potter, holding her tongue.” The little part of him that’s curled up in Harry’s mind makes a strange noise of agreement. Bastards, both of you Harry hisses.
“I merely wanted to inform you Professor Flitwick and myself have finished inspecting your broom.” Harry immediately perks up, which Snape must be able to sense because he looks down his nose at her even more condescendingly than before. “It has been returned to your belongings. Please, if you would be so kind, ask Mr. Flint to stop sending me countless owls a day, begging that I hurry up the process, even if it means the loss of your life on the Quidditch Pitch.”
Harry just nods eagerly, a strange restlessness settling in her bones as she pictures flying above Hogwarts on her new broom. Addict her Tom whispers low in her mind. She doesn’t bother correcting him.
“You’ll let me fly too, right?” Draco asks, once Snape’s out of sight, seeming to forget what he had been complaining about earlier. Harry just sends him a look, turning on her heel to rush back to the dorms, library forgotten.
Harry makes up with Hermione the next morning. She runs into the other girl in the Great Hall and, with a growing sense of awkwardness, tries to find the words to explain how she feels. Hermione solves her problem by throwing her arms around Harry and squeezing her tightly.
“I’m so sorry,” Hermione whispers into her hair. Harry clutches at her robes and hugs her back.
“No, I’m sorry,” she answers. “I know you were just trying to help, and I overreacted.”
Hermione pulls away first, her eyes shining brightly. “Let’s never fight again.”
Harry grins brightly. “Deal.”
“I don’t know why you insist on continuing this foolishness,” Tom sighs, sitting next to her, back against the wall. “You’re just making him angrier. You must know that.”
“It truly amazes me how both of you continue to believe that I structure my life around what you want. Truly.” Harry’s sitting across from Professor Lupin’s classroom, the corridor abandoned. She’s waiting for him to come back from dinner so they can continue their lessons. Leading up to the holidays, they had covered all the theory of the Patronus charm, and he had promised Harry that they could move onto the actual spell after the holidays.
Tom shrugs next to her. He’s looking healthier these days, less wan and ghostlike, which Harry knows should concern her, seeing as he’s probably leeching off her life force. However, the healthier he looks, the better mood he’s in, so she doesn’t bother herself by thinking too much about it. Plus, the less Tom muses about committing mass homicide in the castle, the better Harry feels about her chances.
“It’s more of a him-problem,” he jerks a thumb to gesture at Harry’s other side. She turns and almost starts in surprise when she sees her Tom sitting next to her.
Her Tom frowns. Harry marvels at how she’s started to be able to tell the difference between the two of them. Her Tom looks older, more creases around his eyes and a permanent frown slashing across his face. His eyes look muddled, and Harry knows if she tried, she’d be able to pick out the flecks of red.
“There’s something off about Lupin, I just can’t seem to remember what.” He furrows his brow, then turns to glare up at his younger self. “It’s your fault.” He doesn’t raise his voice, but Harry can feel the daggers underneath. “You’re confusing me.”
“What do you mean, he’s confusing you? Shouldn’t you share the same memories?”
Tom shrugs. “My memories end with the death of Myrtle Warren and the ritual to create my first Horcrux. I think he kept writing in me until he graduated from Hogwarts. After that, I only have memories of last year when the little Weasley girl found me.”
Harry frowns, turning to look back at her Tom. “So, why are you so confused?”
The furrow in his brow deepens. “I don’t know,” he spits out, venomous. “I think I remember things, but they’re hazy, like someone else is remembering them. He’s stronger than I am and everything is getting muddled up.” He frowns. “We never should have brought him in.”
“Hold up a second,” Harry protests, holding her hands up. “If I’m remembering correctly, we did not do anything. I wanted to kill him, and you offered up my mind to him like a tasty snack. What was it you said again? ‘We can share’?”
There’s a sharp stabbing pain in her scar and before either of them says anything else, there are footsteps echoing on the stone. Harry looks up to catch the sight of Lupin rounding the corner, and when she looks back to either side of her, both her Tom and the diary are gone.
“Professor,” she says, jumping up from the ground. Only to falter when the person coming down the hall is Snape. “What are you doing here?” She asks, unable to stop the hint of accusation that colors her voice.
“Tone, Miss Potter,” Snape snaps. He rises up, brushing an invisible piece of lint of the shoulder of his robes. “Professor Lupin has fallen ill, and I will be filling in for him during his absence. Might I inquire why you are here, instead of enjoying dinner with the rest of the students?” His voice indicates there's an argument to be had.
“Professor Lupin has been giving me private lessons,” she says reluctantly. “Do you know when he’ll be better? Do you know what’s wrong with him?”
Snape sneers, something dark and indecipherable crossing his face. “I do not, and would surely not divulge such private information to a student. Now, run along to dinner, before I send you up to the Headmaster to deal with your impertinence.”
Not wanting to risk a meeting with Dumbledore, Harry reluctantly turns to head to the Great Hall. She waits until Snape can’t see her anymore, before bolting up one of the staircases she’d found on the Marauder’s Map in order to head up to one of the towers. She knew there was a full moon soon and found the sight of the moon and stars calmed her.
What do you think could be wrong with him? She asks Tom, not expecting him to answer. I hope it’s not serious, she says, fretting almost without intending to.
He doesn’t answer at first, but she can sense he’s mulling something over in his mind. I couldn’t say... he trails off, and Harry gets the vague impression he’s remembered something important. I wouldn’t worry about it he reassures.
Funnily enough, Harry’s not much comforted.
Snape slams the door to the classroom shut and waltzes to the front of the room like an oversized bat. “So...” he drawls. “This is what a traditional Defense Against the Dark Arts class looks like...” he doesn’t add anything else but Harry can hear the ‘pathetic’ hanging onto the end of his sentence.
This is unbelievable Harry hisses to Tom in her head as she watches Snape circle the front of the class. Not only do I have to deal with him during Potions but now during Defense as well? How am I supposed to learn anything ever?
“Put your wands away,” Snape is saying, taking position in front of the chalkboard. “You won’t be needing them today. Instead, I thought we would go in a slightly different direction than what your... normal professor might.”
Defense is a useless subject, anyway, Tom answers from the back of her mind. He’s been stewing in something ever since the night Harry got stood up for her lesson and refuses to tell her what it is. You’re much better learning the Dark Arts, in any case.
Harry manages not to roll her eyes through sheer force of will.
“What can someone tell me about werewolves?” Harry tunes back into the conversation to hear Snape’s question. She starts to doodle a little snitch in the corner of her notes, daydreaming about the wind whipping through her hair.
Tom seems to be interested in the course of the conversation and her scar prickles with his irritation. Grumbling to him, Harry tunes back into the conversation. True to form, Hermione is sitting ramrod straight next to her, hand as high in the air as physically possible.
Snape glances around the class lazily, before his eyes fall on Hermione. “Miss Granger,” he calls, sounding like he’d rather eat dirt than call on her. As Hermione starts to rattle off the textbook definition of werewolves, Harry drifts off into her own thoughts again, regardless of what Tom wants.
The weather takes a turn for the warmer, much to Harry’s pleasure. Spring is just around the corner, and all around the grounds, snow is lazily melting and running in rivulets towards the Black Lake.
It’s been almost a week since Harry tried to go to Professor Lupin’s for their lesson, so she decides to go again, in hopes he’d been feeling better. Even I could teach you the basic mechanics of a Patronus Charm Tom grumbles in her mind, so I don’t understand why you insist on keeping up this ridiculous charade.
Can you even cast a Patronus Charm? Harry asks snidely, while she’s actually biding her time in order to find the strength to knock on Lupin’s door. Professor Lupin told me you have to have a happy memory in order to cast the charm properly. Doesn’t seem like you have too many of those floating around.
Tom sends a sharp stab of pain through her scar at that remark. Harry knows she deserves it, knows that was a low blow, but she can’t find it within herself to care. After all that Tom has taken from her, she figures he deserves a little of his own medicine.
Harry shakes her head, like that could clear it of Tom’s influence. Raising her hand, she raps sharply on the door three times, taking a step backwards.
She shifts from side to side on her feet, growing more anxious the longer the door remains unopened. You don’t think he died, do you? She asks Tom, not sure if Hogwarts would announce to the students whether or not a staff member died. She remembers they told the students about Lockheart’s “accident” but that hadn’t been quite as severe as death.
Tom seems to find some part of her comment amusing, but he doesn’t elaborate on what exactly. No, Harry, he says, clearly still amused I don’t think Lupin died.
Before she can interrogate him any further, the door swings open and Lupin peers out. He looks paler than usual, a waxen color with dark circles under his eyes. His hair is tousled and he looks like he hasn’t slept at all the past week. “Professor Lupin?” Harry asks hesitantly. “Are you feeling alright?”
He looks at her in what Harry can only assume is surprise. “Harry. I wasn’t expecting to see you tonight.”
She flushes, but doesn’t back down. There’s steel in her spine, mostly Tom’s doing, but Harry likes to think of it as her own tenacity, and she’s not going to shy away from this situation. “We were supposed to meet last week, but Professor Snape said you were sick,” Harry answers. “I just wanted to check up on you and see if we might continue our lessons?”
Lupin smiles wanly. “You have your father’s spirit,” he says, and Harry silently preens under his words. “I’m feeling quite alright, Miss Potter, much more myself. Thank you for your concern. However, I’m afraid I’m going to have to postpone our lesson another week, just until I’m completely better.”
Harry nods, smiling tightly. “Of course,” she says. “Sorry to bother you.”
Laughing slightly, Lupin shakes his head and smiles back at her. “You’re never a bother, Harry,” he says. “I look forward to resuming our lessons as well. Good-night.” Harry nods, turning to leave. She hears the door close behind her and frowns, but doesn’t stop.
“Why are you getting so upset because of him?” Her Tom wonders, appearing at her side.
Harry ignores him, making her way back downstairs to her room. Seeing as she won’t get the chance to study with Lupin tonight, she’s going to reread the book she picked up on Dementors and casting Patronus Charms and talk to Basil, before she has to let her familiar back out in the Forbidden Forest for the spring.
“He’s right, you know,” the other Tom says, from her other side.
Great, Harry thinks, to neither in particular. I’ve got two bits of soul flanking me like bodyguards and giving me a never ending headache.
She can tell they exchange a look over her head. Both of them are still taller than her, much to Harry’s displeasure, and took great joy in exploiting that fact whenever they could.
She just stares ahead. I can’t explain it she says finally. He’s one of the last links I have to my parents. You wouldn’t understand. Harry doesn’t mention he wouldn’t understand due to the fact he’s the reason her parents are dead, but she thinks he gets the point nonetheless.
Tom doesn’t answer her.