Wednesday, November 17, 2010

‘Well, I think we should just try and forget what you saw,

‘Well, I think we should just try and forget what you saw,’ said Hermione firmly. ‘And you ought to put in a bit more effort on your Occlumency from now on.’

Harry was so angry with her he did not talk to her for the rest of the day, which proved to be another bad one. When people were not discussing the escaped Death Eaters in the corridors, they were laughing at Gryffindor's

abysmal performance in their match against Hufflepuff; the Slytherins were singing Weasley is our King’ so loudly and frequently that by sundown Filch had banned it from the corridors out of sheer irritation.

The week did not improve as it progressed. Harry received two more ‘Ds in Potions; he was still on tenterhooks that Hagrid might get the sack; and he couldn't stop himself dwelling on the dream in which he had been

Voldemort—though he didn't bring it up with Ron and Hermione again; he didn't want another telling-off from Hermione. He wished very much that he could have talked to Sirius about it, but that was out of the question, so he

tried to push the matter to the back of his mind.

Unfortunately, the back of his mind was no longer the secure place it had once been.

‘Get up, Potter.’

A couple of weeks after his dream of Rookwood, Harry was to be found, yet again, kneeling on the floor of Snape's office, trying to clear his head. He had just been forced, yet again, to relive a stream of very early memories

he had not even realised he still had, most of them concerning humiliations Dudley and his gang had inflicted upon him in primary school.

‘That last memory,’ said Snape. ‘What was it?’

‘I don't know,’ said Harry, getting wearily to his feet. He was finding it increasingly difficult to disentangle separate memories from the rush of images and sound that Snape kept calling forth. ‘You mean the one where my

cousin tried to make me stand in the toilet?’

‘No,’ said Snape softly. ‘I mean the one with a man kneeling in the middle of a darkened room ...’

‘It's ... nothing,’ said Harry.

Snape's dark eyes bored into Harry's. Remembering what Snape had said about eye contact being crucial to Legilimency, Harry blinked and looked away.

‘How do that man and that room come to be inside your head, Potter?’ said Snape.

‘It—’ said Harry, looking everywhere but at Snape, ‘it was—just a dream I had.’

‘A dream?’ repeated Snape.

There was a pause during which Harry stared fixedly at a large dead frog suspended in a jar of purple liquid.

‘You do know why we are here, don't you, Potter?’ said Snape, in a low, dangerous voice. ‘You do know why I am giving up my evenings to this tedious job?’

‘Yes,’ said Harry stiffly.

‘Remind me why we are here, Potter.’

‘So I can learn Occlumency, said Harry, now glaring at a dead eel.

‘Correct, Potter. And dim though you may be—’ Harry looked back at Snape, hating him ‘—I would have thought that after over two months of lessons you might have made some progress. How many other dreams about the

Dark Lord have you had?’

‘Just that one,’ lied Harry.

‘Perhaps,’ said Snape, his dark, cold eyes narrowing slightly, ‘perhaps you actually enjoy having these visions and dreams, Potter. Maybe they make you feel special— important?’

‘No, they don't,’ said Harry, his jaw set and his fingers clenched tightly around the handle of his wand.

That is just as well, Potter,’ said Snape coldly, ‘because you are neither special nor important, and it is not up to you to find out what the Dark Lord is saying to his Death Eaters.’

‘No—that's your job, isn't it?’ Harry shot at him.

He had not meant to say it; it had burst out of him in temper. For a long moment they stared at each other, Harry convinced he had gone too far. But there was a curious, almost satisfied expression on Snape's face when he


‘Yes, Potter,’ he said, his eyes glinting. ‘That is my job. Now, if you are ready, we will start again.’

He raised his wand: ‘One—two—three—Legilimens!’

A hundred dementors were swooping towards Harry across the lake in the grounds ... he screwed up his face in concentration ... they were coming closer ... he could see the dark holes beneath their hoods ... yet he could

also see Snape standing in front of him, his eyes fixed on Harry's face, muttering under his breath ... and somehow, Snape was growing clearer, and the dementors were growing fainter ...

Harry raised his own wand.


Snape staggered— his wand flew upwards, away from Harry—and suddenly Harry's mind was teeming with memories that were not his: a hook-nosed man was shouting at a cowering woman, while a small dark-haired boy

cried in a corner ... a greasy-haired teenager sat alone in a dark bedroom, pointing his wand at the ceiling, shooting down flies ... a girl was laughing as a scrawny boy tried to mount a bucking broomstick—


Harry felt as though he had been pushed hard in the chest; he staggered several steps backwards, hit some of the shelves covering Snape's walls and heard something crack. Snape was shaking slightly, and was very white

in the face.

The back of Harry's robes was damp. One of the jars behind him had broken when he fell against it; the pickled slimy thing within was swirling in its draining potion.

‘Reparo,’ hissed Snape, and the jar sealed itself at once. ‘Well, Potter ... that was certainly an improvement ...’ Panting slightly, Snape straightened the Pensieve in which he had again stored some of his thoughts before

starting the lesson, almost as though he was checking they were still there. ‘I don't remember telling you to use a Shield Charm ... but there is no doubt that it was effective ...’

Harry did not speak; he felt that to say anything might be dangerous. He was sure he had just broken into Snape's memories, that he had just seen scenes from Snape's childhood. It was unnerving to think that the little boy

who had been crying as he watched his parents shouting was actually standing in front of him with such loathing in his eyes.

‘Let's try again, shall we?’ said Snape.

Harry felt a thrill of dread; he was about to pay for what had just happened, he was sure of it. They moved back into position with the desk between them, Harry feeling he was going to find it much harder to empty his mind this


‘On the count of three, then,’ said Snape, raising his wand once more. ‘One—two—’

Harry did not have time to gather himself together and attempt to clear his mind before Snape cried, ‘Legilimens!’

He was hurtling along the corridor towards the Department of Masteries, past the blank stone walls, past the torches—the plain black door was growing ever larger; he was moving so fast he was going to collide with it, he was

feet from it and again he could see that chink of faint blue light—

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