Harry Potter and the Dungeon Master
Chapter 1 - Back at Hogwarts
As Harry met his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, at the King's Cross Railway Station on platform 9 3/4 on the first of September, they could tell that Harry had changed a great deal. Gone was the once ready smile from his face. He somehow looked much older than his mere sixteen years. Over the summer he had become a melancholy and drawn youth. He had also taken to wearing dark clothes, as if to make him blend into the background. His friends were grieved by the change in him, but as they had agreed amongst themselves, they would treat Harry the same way that they always had. They thought that the change in Harry had been caused by the death of Sirius, and were therefore oblivious of the doom that the prophecy had laid before their dearest friend.
But Harry knew. It was hard for him to face Ron and Hermione knowing this. But he greeted them with as much joy as he could muster, trying to remember the good old days.
Although happy at seeing his friends again, he was grateful to see them leave for the prefect's carriage, and found a carriage for himself. But he didn't remain there alone for long before his privacy was disturbed by Ginny and Seamus. Ginny Weasley had been dating Seamus Finnigan all summer and as they entered, Seamus had his arm wrapped around Ginny's shoulder.
"Hi there Harry", Ginny greeted him happily, pushing Seamus away so she could sit down. "How are you doing?"
"Hi Harry", Seamus said.
"Hey guys. I'm fine I guess. What about you?"
"Well we are just fine and dandy", Seamus said before he and Ginny proceeded to make out for at least five minutes nonstop. Harry wanted to be sick.
As Ginny breathlessly emerged from the kiss, she turned to Harry, "So have you heard what's been happening with the Ministry?"
"No, I haven't been reading the Daily Prophet much lately." Harry didn't feel like adding that he had been way too depressed to do much of anything during the whole summer. He knew that reading the Daily Prophet would only bring unnecessary reminders of Voldemort's increasing powers.
"Well you should have. Now everyone believes that you-know-who is back The Ministry ate taking extra precautions against possible Death Eater attacks and sending out leaflets to people, although they are pure shit," she said, tossing one said leaflet from her pocket to Harry.
Harry couldn't help himself as a sad smile spread across his face. Inside were instructions in case of a Lord Voldemort emergency. "If you hear the words Avada Kedavra, DUCK!" Harry had known that Fudge was an idiot before, but this just proved it further.
"So tell me, what's been happening with the Weasley clan?" Harry suddenly asked, eager to change the subject.
"Oh you know, the usual. Mum and dad still won't talk to Percy the Bastard. Bill and Fleur are still going out. Fred and George are doing really well on their joke shop, much to the horror of the parental units, and have moved to a bachelor pad in London. I've visited it once. It's great. They've got purple gargoyles at the door and a bathtub that fills with the alcoholic drink of your choice. That's their latest invention. They call it the "drunk dunk". Otherwise the place is done up more camp than a row of pink tents", Ginny concluded, wrinkling her nose. Then she and Seamus started to smooch again. Harry turned his head away in disgust and started fishing for his diskman. With the headphones in his ears and the sound on full blast he gazed out of the window at the passing countryside. After listening through one cde twice he noticed Ginny coming back from the loo and resume positions being liplocked to Seamus. He glanced around the carriage in desperation to find something to distract him from looking at the couple, and to Harry's great relief two heads decided to take this opportunity to pop in from the carriage door. One was brown and bushy, the other bright red. They belonged to Ron and Hermione.
"I can't believe they are at it again!" was Ron's exclamation as he saw the kissing couple. Seamus had just inserted a hand under Ginny's shirt. "My sister's such a skank! My mum doesn't have an idea of what's going on. She thinks they are so cute together. I wish I had a camera so I could take a picture of this for her!"
"Oh c'mon. I think they're kind of sweet," said Hermione "...or not." Ginny had just put her hand inside Seamus' trousers. "Have they no decency?" she added with disgust.
"So how's everything?" Harry asked, desperate to look anywhere except the vulgar display of hormones in front of him.
"Good, good. We still don't know much about the Order though, but as far as I can tell, they've been busy," Ron replied.
"Shhhh! Shouldn't we be careful in front of..." Hermione was nudging her head towards Seamus.
"Erm... I am quite sure that he is not listening to us," Harry said as he watched in horror how Ginny's hand had started moving inside Seamus' trousers. Seamus was moaning softly.
"Eew. They make me sick," Ron uttered, still shocked at his little sister's slutty performance.
"So how fares the Order?" Harry was anxious to know.
"As far as I know, they are trying to recruit troops. They've moved the headquarters from number twelve Grimmauld Place to some secret joint of Dumbledore's, so I'm not sure."
Suddenly Hermione, who had been gazing at her watch, screamed in horror "Look at the time! We'll be arriving soon, we must get everybody ready," and with that she scurried off the carriage. Ron gave Hermione's retreating back a long, suffering look before following after her.
Fortunately Harry didn't have to stay long with Ginny and Seamus, since true to Hermione's word, they shortly arrived at the Hogsmeade Station. Outside the Hogwarts Express Harry met up with Ron and Hermione and together they stepped into a thestral-drawn coach.
"Are they still there?" Hermione asked Harry in a quiet voice, referring to the thestrals.
"Still there. Where else would they be," Harry replied in such a sad way that the three friends sat in silence for the rest of the journey to Hogwarts.
As they made it to the Great Hall, Harry saw every single face peer up at him. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle were looking positively murderous in the Slytherin table. It had been due to Harry that all their fathers had been sent to Azkaban (now guarded by Aurors) on the charge of being Death Eaters.
Harry looked up at the staff table, to the empty space that Hagrid usually took up. Well the seat wasn't empty, but compared to Hagrid's massive bulk, Professor Grubbly-Plank was nonexistent. Hagrid had moved to France over the summer with Grawp to live with Madame Maxime. Harry had received a few postcards written in Hagrid's messy crawl, saying that Hagrid and Maxime were now engaged and that Grawp had found a girlfriend who lives in the Alps.
Another new staff member was taking the place of Professor Umbridge. Harry was happy that the new Defence Against the Dark Arts was Tonks. At least now they might have someone compitent, even if they had a strange fashion sense (Tonks's hair was metallic silver and black today).
Suddenly Harry couldn't take it anymore. He wanted to get away from all the curious, staring eyes. He made an excuse of having a headache to Ron and Hermione. Hermione looked at him with an arched eyebrow, clearly knowing that he wasn't suffering from any physical ailment, but didn't say anything.
Grateful of Hermione's discretion, Harry fled the Great Hall and started to make his way to the Gryffindor common room. He wanted to get there as fast as possible and was taking long strides, not really looking where he was stepping. As he turned a corner, he bumped into a black shape that smelled lightly of citrus. Harry stumbled and almost fell, but at last caught his balance by grabbing hold of a plith holding a statue of a very ungly witch. As he backed off, making his apologies, to his horror Harry was facing Professor Severus Snape. A wave of fear passed through Harry. As far as he knew, Snape was still furious with him for falling into the Pensive. Harry looked up to the taller man's eyes, and was surpriesed not to see the usual malevolence in them. And those black eyes were looking straight back at him. They stood there for a while, staring at each other. Harry thought it was starting to feel a bit weird.
Finally Professor Snape looked away and broke the silence by saying "Watch where you're going, Potter," and with that whisked off, his black cape flying behind him like a storm cloud.
But to Harry's surprise the usual malice hadn't been in the Potion Master's voice. He was so surprised in fact that he turned back to look if it really had been Severus Snape, the Hogwarts Potions Master. To Harry's even greater surprise, he saw the retreating back of his Potions Master turn, and look back at Harry. Their eyes met. Snape blushed. Severus Snape blushed. Then he turned with a furious swirl of his cape, and positively flew to the end of the corridor where he disappeared through and archway.
As Harry lay in bed that night, listening to the other Gryffindor sixth years snore and whimper in their sleep, his thoughts kept on returning to his strange encounter with Snape. He was greatly puzzled at Snape's tone of voice. The Snape he had come to know and hate would have uttered the words with contempt, even hatred. But he had said them in an offhand, almost gentle way. Snape, gentle! The thought almost made Harry laugh, and that was saying a lot since he never laughed these days. And what was most uncharacteristic Snape was that he had turned back to see Harry, and then blushed when their eyes met.
The concept of Snape blushing was enough to convince Harry that Snape must be seriously ill. Or that he had accidentally sniffed some intoxicating potion in his dungeon.
As he lay in bed, unable to sleep, his mind remained on thoughts on Snape. In a way Harry admired the Potions Master. He remembered how incredibly heroic Snape had been on that one occasion in Dumbledore's office when Fudge and some Ministry officials had been present. Harry remembered with vivid detail the way Snape had bared his arm in order to show the Dark Mark in order to prove that Voldemort's power was increasing. To Harry that had been the ultimate act of bravery. Ever since, Harry had had a strange respect for the professor he hated. The professor that had blushed a few hours ago...
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