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Chapter Twenty-Eight: Debates and Dropping By

Harry darted a glance at the list of prophecies and grinned, causing Severus to squint at the sudden warm wash of impishness and comprehension that overcame Harry's aura. Raising an eyebrow, Severus prompted in as much of a dry teacherly tone as he could manage, "Yes?"

In reply, Harry continued to grin and leaned over to point out one of the other prophecies that Severus hadn't mentioned:

'The Power shall first sleep until after the Fall
It shall next sleep until after the Separation'

Reading it over, Severus found that the distraction of Harry's aura made it difficult for him to concentrate fully. Having to resist a smile of his own in response to the warm humor so close to him didn't make it easy for him either. He frowned for a minute or so at the prophecy that Harry had indicated before he muttered, "Ah... The Fall, and the Separation."

"Yes," Harry bounced a little on his bed, prideful at figuring out another piece of the puzzle. "You fell from your broom. Even after I-" Suddenly Harry's enthusiasm waned and he grew still before continuing, the colors surrounding him containing shock and a large amount of guilt as he muttered, "... when I found you and dragged you away from there, my fingers tingled. I thought they were falling asleep ... but you were twitching at first as though from aftershocks of the Cruciatus curse ... but later you weren't."

"Harry," Severus broke into the halting monologue. "What is wrong? You ... remembered something?" It was his best interpretation of the shock and sudden change of emotion.

Hesitantly Harry nodded, curling into himself a little. Widened green eyes regarded Severus who was able to discern wariness, uncertainty, and a certain amount of mournful hope- as though the more positive emotion didn't have enough motivation to make it through the guilt and grief that had nearly taken over the boy's aura.

Severus sat back in his chair, trying not to scowl as he felt the beginnings of frustration at Harry's silence. He wasn't trained to psychoanalyze his students, nor was he inclined to. So then, what was he supposed to do to get the boy to talk? Reach out to touch his hand? He'd likely flinch away at this point. Stare until he broke down and spoke? Frightening the boy wasn't likely to produce desired results in his state of mind either. Blatantly truthful words? - heaven forefend, a smile?

As Severus didn't want to watch Harry flee screaming from the safety of the warded rooms, he decided to settle for truthful words without the smile.

"Silence isn't going to be of help to either of us, Harry," Severus began in stern tones, schooling himself to hide the impatience he could feel stirring within. Severus sighed as he watched the guilt suddenly drown under crushing grief, and Harry burrowed his face in the arms that rested upon his updrawn knees. It was as though the shell of his emotions had cracked under the sudden strain of remembering his previous remorse.

Moments passed before Harry's voice was heard, choked and nearly impossible to understand. "... It's my fault." Self-recrimination and inwardly-turned hatred swelled.

Furrowing his brow, Severus tried to understand what Harry was talking about. "Your fault? How can it be your fault that I fell from my broom. It wasn't you that cast the Cruciatus."

Shaking his head from within the shelter of his arms, Harry rasped, "Cedric."

Severus blinked once. "Cedric. You are referring to Mr. Diggory? You believe that it is your fault that he was killed by Voldemort?" he asked somewhat disbelievingly. Another nod was his reply. "Well, you're wrong," Severus harshly stated.

When Harry's shoulders continued to tremble and no sign of acquiescence was at hand, Severus muttered, "Albus told me what happened. It wasn't you that killed him. It was Voldemort who cast the curse."

"Because of me," Harry shuddered, his face still hidden and words muffled, his back bowed under his misery. "And I didn't stop him. I didn't do anything; just stood there."

"You were likely still reeling from the portkey and gathering your wits from the surprise. Not to mention the rather strong tendency Voldemort has to inflict fear upon those around him, especially of late." Severus stated, keeping his emotions under strict control and trying to keep his thoughts from straying to his own painful past.

Again Harry shook his head. "I should have done something. Anything."

"Such as what?" Severus bit out. "Would you have preferred it if you threw yourself in front of the curse and got killed instead? Do you really imagine that Diggory would have survived for more than ten seconds after your death?" Not letting Harry express further regret, Severus plowed on. "Voldemort desires death and pain. I was told that you suffered the Cruciatus as well. It is quite likely that Mr. Diggory's death gave Voldemort some satisfaction and saved you from prolonged and multiple applications of the curse. In doing so, he also likely saved your sanity and saved the rest of us as well. Voldemort didn't realize that the other half of the Power is you; he already had reasons for taking you. Your blood could be taken whether or not your mind was still intact."

Although he didn't raise his face, Harry's negative emotions ebbed just a little, no longer continually trying to tear himself apart. The emotional 'daggers' were poised however, ready to plunge and draw Harry's own blood forth in sacrifice to his perceived wrong. "But ... I should have found something to do ... to help him."

That was enough; Severus felt his control break as he shot out of his chair and paced to the other side of the room so that he wouldn't strangle the boy. "Do you imagine I didn't feel that way when I was spying for Dumbledore?" Severus yelled. "Do you think I enjoyed watching Voldemort's victims killed? Tortured? Begging for their release while I stood silently and watched?" Severus spun around to face the pale boy who was now peering at him like a fragile china doll with fear and pain hovering all around it. "This is why Voldemort must be stopped. Not because he holds a different view, hating Muggles and Muggleborn wizards. Not because he is the Heir of Slytherin. Not because he speaks Parseltongue. Not even because he seeks immortality. But because he hurts others to gain his aims." Trembling, Severus struggled to regain control over his temper. A little more quietly, he added, "Voldemort's victims are not your fault, no matter what you did or didn't do. If you insist on staining your hands with Cedric Diggory's blood ... then my hands would never be clean of my own share of his victims."

Feeling close to being overwhelmed once more, Severus turned and walked into the isolation ward's washroom and closed the door behind him.

Harry sat there, numbed in shock for several moments, staring at the closed door through which Severus had disappeared. He still felt the grief and helplessness, but now it partially had an immediate focus centered upon the man who had left the room in order to avoid the hurtful memories that Harry had caused him to bring to light. Unsteadily, Harry rose to his seat and moved from bed to bed, supporting himself on the edges before going on to the next one in his path towards the washroom. While Harry was awake, aware and felt physically better, his legs still felt weak. By the time Harry reached the door, he heard the shower turn on inside and he stopped short of opening it. Severus would be more than angry if Harry entered while he was in the shower, he was sure.

Thankfully Harry was spared the decision with the entrance of the Headmaster who entered the ward, his manner warm but without his cheerfulness or amusement as was his habit of late. "Good morning, Harry," he softly called as he approached. "I had thought to let the two of you have some more time together before coming, but Fawkes had a difference of opinion about that. He thought it would be best if I visited now."

Passing one hand over his eyes, Harry tried for a smile without much success as he leaned against the wall. "... We were talking ... I said things I shouldn't have ... Severus ..." With a gesture at the closed door behind which the sounds of water could still be heard, Harry subsided into a miserable silence.

"Hmmm." Dumbledore regarded the door as he stopped by Harry, running a soothing hand over his head rather than ruffling his hair. "How long has he been in there?"

"Just a few minutes; he turned on the shower a minute ago."

"Ah. Well then," Dumbledore smiled calmly, "Let's get you settled back in your bunk and give him a chance to calm. I'll see if he requires assistance afterwards." As Harry started to voice a protest, Dumbledore's hand soothed Harry's hair again before starting him on his way. "Severus is a very practical man. This has been hard on him, but I am sure he will not do anything ... irrational."

With a swiftness that Harry attributed to the remnants of shock and distress he still felt, Harry found himself settled in his bunk, watching the trailing edge of the Headmaster's robes disappear through the washroom door which closed behind him. Soon afterwards the faint sounds of the shower running were cut off as though a Silencing spell were used.

Shivering uneasily, Harry turned his attention to the booklet that still lay on the covers of his bunk.


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