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Saturday, December 20th, 1997:

 

Harry shivered and clung tighter to the hand holding his. It was cold and snow was falling in gentle puffs and Harry didn’t care. He was at Hogwarts, the Dark Lord had been dead for 7 months, and he was on a date. Harry smiled shyly at Zacharias Smith as the boy looked over at him. He’d been nervous about going to Hogsmeade with a boy, but everyone had taken it really well and, for the most part, left them alone. Now they were walking along the edge of the lake and the sun was setting and Harry felt more content than he could ever remember feeling. He had a boyfriend, no threat of eminent death, and it was nearly Christmas.

 

Zacharias stopped and Harry stopped as well. “Zach?” Harry questioned breathlessly as the dark-haired boy pulled Harry flush against his chest.

 

“You’re so beautiful, Harry.” Zacharias was staring at him with intense blue eyes and Harry shivered in his arms. “Can I kiss you?”

 

Harry blushed, but nodded, whispering. “I…I’ve never kissed a boy before.” His cheeks grew redder and he added softly. “In fact, I’ve only kissed a few times at all.”

 

Zacharias rubbed his nose gently against Harry’s, smiling. “Well, we’ll just have to fix that, now won’t we?” He leaned down, brushing his lips softly over Harry’s. “Is this okay, Harry?” He murmured, softly kissing Harry’s lips again.

 

Harry smiled against the other boy’s lips. “Yes.” He whispered, bringing his arms up to encircle the taller boy’s neck. “Kiss me again, Zach?” He asked, feeling breathless again.

 

Zacharias Smith was only too happy to comply. He’d wish later that he hadn’t; it would be too late then. He licked Harry’s bottom lip gently and Harry parted his lips eagerly. For a brief moment, Zacharias thrilled at the fact that he was the first boy to kiss Harry Potter. He relished the sweet, chocolate taste of the Boy-Who-Saved-The-World as he stroked his tongue over Harry’s. Harry was feeling confused, himself. He liked Zach…a lot. He’d wanted the other boy to kiss him; he’d asked the other boy to kiss him. But Zach tasted…wrong. It was a harsh, bitter taste and Harry didn’t like it. He felt Zach’s tongue sweep across his and suddenly his mouth was flooded with a sharp, metallic flavor. It drowned his tongue and Zach pulled back quickly.

 

Harry turned his head and spat, trying not to gag as the blood that had filled his mouth stained the snow an ugly red. “Oh Merlin…” He turned, horrified, to stare at Zacharias.

 

“What…” Zacharias stopped, whimpering in pain. Finally, he continued, blood dripping down his chin. “What did you do to me?”

 

Harry’s eyes were wide and scared. “I didn’t do anything!” Harry insisted, his voice shaking and his stomach churning. “I didn’t!” He started trembling, watching the blood drip off Zach’s chin and hit the snow. “Maybe we should go see Madam Pomfrey…”

 

Zacharias nodded and they began the long walk to the Infirmary. Zach was very careful not to touch Harry. Something wasn’t right with the smaller boy. One second he’d been happily kissing Harry, then the next his tongue was bleeding. It wasn’t right. Everything in Zacharias screamed for him to get away from the other boy. His instincts labeled Harry as dangerous, even though his experiences said Harry wouldn’t hurt him. Harry wouldn’t hurt anyone. He was too sweet. Zach forced himself to keep walking beside the Gryffindor boy; he really did need to go to the hospital wing. He could still taste blood and could feel it running down his face and filling his mouth. Just before they entered the school, Zach turned and spit out a mouthful of the dark red blood. Even though it was his, something told him he didn’t want to swallow it.

 

They hurried into the hospital wing. While Harry ran to get Madam Pomfrey, Zacharias spit into a sink. His tongue felt strange; almost numb and a little swollen. It was still bleeding as well. As Madam Pomfrey rushed over to him, he spit again. “Hurts…” He whimpered to the Mediwitch, who clucked her tongue sympathetically.

 

“Come here, dear. Let me see.” She made him sit on a bed and open his mouth and stick his tongue out. She and Harry gasped in unison and the Mediwitch gave him a funny look. “Mr. Smith, what did you do; lick a razor blade?”

 

She clucked her tongue and began to heal his tongue. Her eyes widened and Zacharias whimpered. “Mr. Smith, how did this happen?” Poppy’s voice was harsh.

 

Harry answered, cautiously. “He…he kissed me, Madam Pomfrey.” The Mediwitch turned to stare at him in shock and Harry blushed, but continued. “We were on a date, coming back from Hogsmeade and just walking around the lake. Zach kissed me and all of a sudden there was blood everywhere…”

 

Poppy frowned. Normally she would believe Harry completely, but this…this didn’t make any sense. “Harry, his tongue has been sliced as though with a blade. He’s also been injected with venom.” Zach’s eyes widened and he whimpered, his tongue still stuck out. “No worries, Mr. Smith. I have spider anti-venom on hand for Hagrid, so we’ll get you fixed up quickly. Now, Mr. Potter, I need to know how this really happened.”

 

Harry stared at her in silence, then whispered. “He kissed me. How…I don’t understand. He kissed me.”

 

Poppy gave Harry a suspicious look. “Sit on that bed over there, Harry.” She pointed and Harry sat. Then she returned to treating Zacharias. She gave him the anti-venom and finished knitting his tongue back together. “There. Good as new, Mr. Smith.” She shot Harry a funny look, then said to the boy in front of her. “I would advise you, Mr. Smith, to not repeat whatever it was that caused this…incident.”

 

Zacharias nodded, casting fearful looks at Harry. “Yes, Madam Pomfrey. I assure you, I have no intention of repeating that mistake.” He practically ran out of the hospital wing as soon as she said he could go.

 

Poppy approached a nervous Harry. “Harry, I’m afraid I need to examine your mouth.” She smiled apologetically. “Is that alright?”

 

“I guess.” Harry was fidgeting nervously. “But Madam Pomfrey, I’m not hurt. Only Zach was bleeding.” Despite his protest, Harry opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue.

 

Poppy pulled on gloves and very carefully touched Harry’s tongue. Nothing happened, so she ran her finger down the length of it. Still, nothing happened. With a frown, she ran her wand firmly down the length of his tongue – from back to tip – and was startled by the result. A strange pearly liquid beaded on the tip of Harry’s tongue and she quickly caught it in a vial. She continued pressing down on Harry’s tongue, with her wand, in long sweeps. She caught several more drops of the liquid before it stopped appearing.

 

She sighed and set the vial on the table beside her and resumed examining Harry’s mouth. It appeared fine. His tongue, other than the strange liquid, appeared normal as well. Suddenly Poppy had a thought. Very cautiously, Poppy blew a breath into Harry’s mouth. The boy looked at her oddly and she did it again. Harry suddenly made a face and Poppy jerked her fingers out of his mouth. They were bleeding. Casting a quick healing charm, then a protective one, she swiftly grasped Harry’s tongue again. She could feel it cutting at her fingers, but the protection charm held and her skin remained undamaged. She studied the tongue carefully. It looked the same, even though it felt like it was covered in razor blades. Poppy released Harry’s tongue and stepped back, her hands shaking.

 

“I need to get the Headmaster, Harry. And Professor Snape.” She tried to smile reassuringly at Harry, but it didn’t work. She was shaking too badly. “Just…wait here.” With that, she rushed off and left a confused and frightened Harry Potter sitting on the bed, with no clue as to what was happening.