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SIYE Time:11:38 on 13th August 2022


Moody's Blues
By gryffins_door

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Category: Post-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Death, Mild Language, Sexual Situations, Violence
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 31
Summary: The adults in Harry's life start acting more like adults; in the meantime, Harry discovers something special in Ginny. Starts late in OotP; mostly canon to that point. Total AU after Book 6. H/G, mentor Moody.
Hitcount: Story Total: 8609; Chapter Total: 596
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:

A/N: "His life caught up in misery" as described in this Mike Pinder classic could refer to several members of the HP universe, but one always comes first in my mind. Many thanks for all the appreciation of the last chapter - now for the aftermath!


Ch 7 in which Severus gets a reality check, and Harry gets a bit of 'unreality'…





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-

Melancholy Man

When all the stars are falling down
Into the sea and on the ground
And angry voices carry on the wind
A beam of light will fill your head
And you'll remember what's been said
By all the good men this world's ever known

- The Moody Blues

o o
o

The headmaster's office was a pool of heavy stillness for a long moment, and then another, interrupted only by the long breaths of the two men who sat contemplating the departure of one Harry Potter, who had just bested the both of them.

Severus Snape's anger at the boy could only stew inside his immobilized frame, while Albus Dumbledore slowly shuffled to a side cabinet and removed two glasses and a bottle of dark amber liquid. He placed them deliberately in the center of his desk and fell heavily into his chair.

He poured two fingers depth into the glasses before him and sat back in reflection.

He picked up the wand that had done his bidding for years, discarded by its new owner, a slight discomfort confirming that its allegiance had shifted. He waved it in Snape's direction and freed the man from his frozen state, but not his misery.

Snape stumbled into one of the empty chairs and gulped a large measure of the fiery beverage provided.

"Headmaster," he rasped, "you let him just walk away?"

"As you witnessed, I felt I had no other choice."

"Surely now… now will you see reason and expel the insolent whelp?"

Dumbledore stared at the younger man. "Tell me Severus, what did you see here tonight?"

"What did I see? I saw one of the most flagrant abuses…"

"Severus! Use the talents of the mind with which you are so gifted, and see - not through the eyes of James Potter's bitter rival, but through the eyes of an uninterested observer, one who has no emotional investment in any of the lives relevant here. Think! What was Harry's demeanor when he entered this office?"

Snape closed his eyes and tried to shake himself free of the dark memories of the past. He took several shallow breaths, then longer ones as his mind cleared.

"He was… defensive... when he saw me here. As if he knew I would accuse him."

"Did he have reason for his attitude?"

"Yes, we… have a... history."

"And when his suspicions were brought to reality?"

"He concocted a story to counter my accusations."

"Did you detect any deceit in his tale?"

"Not that I could discern, yet he was obviously omitting something of import."

"I suspect you are correct, as I had the same impression. If we accept his version of events to be true as presented, it is possible that he does indeed know the identity of Draco's attacker and does not wish to reveal that fact. It may be one of his close friends."

"That would seem… logical," Snape said, forcing his emotions down.

"And his reaction when you refused to believe him?"

"He stopped listening and… arrived at a conclusion that he should never… How did he manage that?" he finished in a bitter tone.

"I cannot be certain, but I have reports that he has been asking very pointed questions regarding his parents over the summer, seeking a more honest representation of their personalities and actions. He no longer accepts the glossed-over versions from their friends nor the lies from his relatives. I believe that he and Petunia may actually have agreed to some sort of truce."

"Petunia - She was never a… pleasant person."

"No, and her attitudes towards magic and those who wield it have only worsened over the years."

Snape winced. "Has she… abused the boy?"

Dumbledore gazed piercingly at Snape. "If you had come to know him, I believe you two would find to have more in common than either of you would care to admit."

Snape tilted back his head, eyes closed, saying nothing.

Dumbledore took a sip of his own whiskey, then continued, "After Harry's epiphany, what did you see?"

"He attacked us both," Snape said in a growl.

"And where was your wand when he cursed you?"

Snape sighed. "In my hand, rising towards him."

"Which he could have interpreted as a threat. I foolishly did the same thing, and was similarly attacked. Did you notice, Severus, that he chose spells that would not physically harm us? That he chose the lowest level of attack that would remove the perceived threat? And not only that, he chose spells that would require us to actually listen to what he had to say?"

"Surely you cannot mean that we were at fault?"

"Do you not remember the frustrations at that age when you felt that no one would listen, understand, or even care about your own concerns?"

"So youth is now a legitimate excuse for losing one's temper?"

"No, I felt he used considerable restraint here tonight."

Snape scoffed.

Dumbledore chuckled, "We would both be seeking care from Poppy otherwise. Just two months ago I spent half a morning restoring my office from the one time I have ever seen him lose control over his emotions, and he wasn't using his wand."

"And what punishments did he receive from that temper tantrum?"

"None. Nothing was permanently harmed and no injuries were caused. He had just lost his godfather and been possessed by Voldemort, therefore some kind of emotional outburst was not unexpected. I thought it best to allow it to continue in a supervised environment until he was back in control of himself."

"What of his request to drop Defense?"

It was Dumbledore's turn to sigh. "Tom still expects regular reports from you, does he not? If Harry is not a student in your class, that will raise concerns about your importance as a confidant. However, I will explain to him - as well as to you - that there are certain expectations of both of you that I must insist upon. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, headmaster." Snape wasn't going to like this any more than Potter was.

o o o

Harry collapsed on the sofa nearest the fire next to Hermione.

"Harry?" Hermione said, a note of worry in her voice. "What happened?"

"I… erm… maybe I shouldn't bother unpacking."

"That doesn't sound good, mate," said Ron, who was thrashing Dean at chess. Ginny was at a nearby table chatting with her yearmates, but paying closer attention than anyone would notice.

"What did he say?" Hermione tried again.

"At first… it was just Snape ranting about me attacking Malfoy -"

"But I thought you were attacked by him!"

"Yeah, but he wouldn't listen until… I made him listen."

Hermione scowled. "How did you manage that?"

"I… used the body-bind curse on him."

Ron laughed out loud. "Good on you mate! No one deserves it more!"

Hermione, however, was aghast. "Harry, you attacked a teacher?"

"They pulled their wands on me - what was I supposed to do?"

"They? Did you attack the headmaster too?!"

His friends stared at him in stunned astonishment as he ran his hands through his hair in obvious frustration.

"You guys will write after I'm gone?"

o o o

Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat together at breakfast the following morning, discussing the possible ramifications of Malfoy's posturing on the Express and the differences their classes would be for the new term as NEWT level students.

Professor McGonagall performed her usual duty of passing out the new schedules and confirming the NEWT studies for all the sixth years, but paused before Harry with a look of disdain.

"Mr. Potter. The headmaster has excused you from DADA classes this first week, but your request to drop the class altogether has been denied. He will explain this to you more fully in your first detention Saturday evening in his office."

Harry winced. "My first detention?"

"Yes. Following your actions last night, you should expect to be in detention every week for the foreseeable future."

Harry only half heard McGonagall praising Neville Longbottom for his efforts at the Ministry to ease the sting of underperforming on his Transfiguration OWL. He let go of a long breath that he hadn't realized he'd been holding. After a real possibility of being expelled, detention was a much preferred option for punishment, even if it lasted the rest of the year.

"I'm sorry, Harry," Hermione said. "We'll take lots of notes for you. I've got to run to Ancient Runes now, but we'll meet after in the common room."

"Right, thanks, Hermione, You're the best."

o o o

Ginny sat in the common room after her last class of the day reading up on some of her new assignments when a slip of parchment suddenly materialized on her book. On it was a familiar messy scrawl with an intriguing message:

Make an excuse to go to the library.
H

She quickly closed the book on the note and told her friends as she packed that she was going to try to get a start on some of the OWL research and she would see them at dinner.

She had a feeling that someone followed her through the portrait hole that provided the entrance to the Gryffindor common room, but she was halfway to the stairs before she felt a hand take her arm and squeeze it four times.

"OK, fourth floor it is," she muttered, thankful that they had worked out a rudimentary communication code before returning to school.

When she reached the proper level, she again felt the hand directing her down a deserted hallway and then another before arriving at what at first appeared to be a long disused classroom. She entered and the door closed behind her. She heard privacy spells being directed at the only entrance to the room.

Harry completed his security routine, whipped his invisibility cloak over his head and turned to face a glowering Ginny with her wand pointed directly at his face.

"Convince me you're really who you're meant to be," she said forcefully, "or you'll be fighting bat bogeys for a week."

Harry was shocked but secretly proud of her. "Ginny, it's really me," he said, holding up his hands. "Look over there."

Ginny looked into the shadowed recesses and saw a settee. It looked exactly like the one they'd shared at the Burrow for most of the last month.

"Harry! How did you manage?"

"Magic," he smirked, earning him a slap on his arm. "I transfigured a desk from a room further along. Do I pass?"

"Exceeds expectations, Mr. Potter. Now, what's the emergency?"

"Nothing, except I've been missing my girlfriend terribly."

"Oh, that's certainly something that needs immediate attention."

With that, she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a long tender kiss that got increasingly more intense, hands and arms pulling and caressing, trying to satisfy their need for closeness that they had missed for the longest time - nearly two whole days.

Eventually they had shuffled to the settee, and Harry reveled in Ginny - the softness of her skin, the taste of her lips, the smell of her hair -

"Missed you in Potions today."

Ginny thought that an odd enough remark, she stopped nibbling on his earlobe.

"What?" she said, laughing.

"Slughorn's first class. He had several examples of things he'd brewed up - one was this love potion, Amortentia - it causes you to smell what you find most attractive. I noticed this flowery scent - and I knew it was your hair. It always smells so nice."

"You're so sweet," Ginny said, rewarding him with another kiss, giggling all the while. "So how was Potions today? Slughorn as good as Mom says?"

"He seems to know his stuff, and his personality is night and day from Snape. I might actually learn something from him this year."

"Is he still bothering you about being the Chosen One?"

"No, Hermione has taken over as his favorite student. Not only did she answer practically every question, she brewed the best Draught of Living Death and won a tiny vial of Felix Felicis -"

"The lucky potion? Oh, Merlin, that's amazing!"

"It was a bit of accident - we distracted her and she made a stir in the wrong direction, then the potion suddenly turned the exact color it was supposed to."

"How strange!"

"Potions are so finicky - it's like you need a secret manual to get ideal results, where somebody has tried all the different techniques."

"Too bad no one has something like that. At least Hermione got lucky to win the prize!"

"Yeah, I can't decide if I'm happier she got it or that Malfoy is stewing because she bested him."

"Ooh, tough choice on that one," Ginny laughed. "Speaking of Malfoy, you never told me what happened last night."

Harry related the entire sequence of events in Dumbledore's office, including how he had come to realize that Snape was the one that overheard part of the original prophecy and was responsible for leading Tom to his parents. Harry had lost his temper and attacked first Snape and then Dumbledore when it appeared they might attack him first.

"And I know I deserve the detentions, but it was kind of thrilling, beating the headmaster that way."

"When do you suppose was the last time someone did that?"

"It's probably been a long time, if ever. I'm not feeling too bad about telling off Snape, either."

"Of course not!" Ginny said. "If anything, it sounded like you went easy on him. He should be in Azkaban if you were right."

"Yeah, you've got a point. At least I don't have class with him this week. Ron and Hermione said today he hadn't changed a bit - he told them to start practicing non-verbal magic without telling them a thing about the theory."

"So the old dog's not learning new tricks?"

"Certainly. And they told me something else that bothers me a bit."

"What was that?"

"Snape was talking about the dark arts with so much drama - almost poetic - and Hermione said it was almost like me in the D.A."

It was several minutes before Ginny could stop laughing and they finally returned to the important task of snogging each other silly.

o o o

"Sir, your hand doesn't seem to have gotten any better."

Harry had arrived in a timely fashion for his Saturday detention with Dumbledore, and he assumed that the blackened hand of the headmaster's withering curse he had noticed during the summer would have been cured by now.

"No, Madame Pomphrey and Professor Snape have done what they can. Unfortunately, some curses - as you well know - result in long-lasting effects."

Harry knew he was referring to his own famous curse scar. "I understand, sir. If I may ask, how did it happen?"

"I shall divulge the full story to you in time, for it should be told properly, and I fear that tonight will not allow us that luxury, for we have much to do."

"What is it that I'll be doing?"

"Ah, I have neglected to inform you that we are in fact using the opportunity of your well-timed dispute with Professor Snape as a ruse - a cover, if you will - for the lessons that I and others will impart to you, as I discussed the night I delivered you to the Burrow."

"This isn't a real detention?" said Harry, bewildered.

"To everyone else, it will be. You did, in fact, commit an act that should result in severe punishment by attacking your teachers -"

"I know, and I apologize for losing control like that."

"Harry, I discussed your situation at length and Severus has come to understand that he exceeded protocols and that you did as well as could be expected in the circumstances. However, you must continue to participate in his class to help ensure his ability to make his reports to Tom. His role as spy is critical to keep abreast of Tom's movements and plans, such as we can."

Harry wasn't pleased about this but understood. He gave a nod in acknowledgement.

"You will remain in his class and endeavor to learn what he has to teach. In return, he will not be singling you out nor will he address you at all that is not specifically related to the lesson at hand, and then only if safety requires it. I trust this will not burden either of you to a great degree."

Harry nodded again.

"As for your Saturday evenings, some you will spend with me, learning about Tom's history and possible motivations, as well as speculating on avenues that may lead to his defeat."

"You know how to beat him? That I can survive?"

"Alas, we are journeying beyond the firm foundation of fact through the murky marshes of memory into thorny thickets of theorization where informed guesswork is the best we can hope to achieve. Fortunately, my guesses are better than most, but I have mentioned before that my mistakes are also larger by comparison. I hope that together our combined resources will be able to discern what would escape either of us alone."

"Yes, sir. What about the other Saturday evenings?"

"After the incident at Godric's Hollow, I felt it prudent for you to learn more advanced field techniques. In short, Alastor will be teaching you to fight."

o o o

When they finally got to the lesson itself, Dumbledore invited Harry to join him in his pensieve to view a memory of one Bob Ogden, formerly of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Harry was fascinated at how real the scene from decades past appeared, as if they were walking down the same lane into the village called Little Hangleton. In this case, he was trying very hard not to laugh at Mr. Ogden himself, a caricature of a clueless bureaucrat - short and plump with oversized thick glasses and a ridiculous combination of mismatched muggle attire better suited to a clown - who would take this guy seriously?

He led them off the primary lane down a long and poorly maintained dirt track between overgrown hedgerows, finally to a dark wood where a small shack - little better than a ruin - had a dead snake nailed to the front door.

The family that inhabited this hovel were as rough as their accommodation.

Harry was nearly as shocked as Ogden was when a dirty misshapen man dropped in front of him and began threatening him in Parseltongue. When the elderly father came out, Harry recognized the monkeyish appearance reminiscent of the great statue of Salazar Slytherin deep in the Chamber of Secrets at Hogwarts. Neither of them showed any respect to the younger daughter, a downtrodden wisp of a girl not much older than Harry. She shared some of the disfigurements of her brother including eyes that appeared to look in opposite directions.

Ogden had come to discuss the son's violation of the Statute of Secrecy by hexing a muggle. He ended up trying to step in between a family disagreement that escalated quickly to violence, requiring him to quickly return to the ministry for reinforcements to control the situation. Both men were sentenced to some time in Azkaban, the wizarding prison.

It wasn't until after they exited the pensieve that Harry learned the father's name was Marvolo, grandfather of Voldemort, and the pitiful girl turned out to be the mother of the future Dark Lord, who was sired by the local squire's son because of a crush and some sort of enchantment, probably a love potion. Harry had seen the handsome young man that he had been in his school days, and it was hard to imagine that he had descended from this lot.

This was what had become of the Gaunt family, proud yet pathetic descendents of Slytherin himself, demonstrated with their only remaining heirlooms - a locket engraved with a large S and something else that caught Harry's attention.

"Professor, that ring Mr. Gaunt was wearing - what became of it? Didn't you have it back in the summer?"

"Very observant of you, Harry," Dumbledore said. He reached into a drawer and removed a small leather bag, fumbled awkwardly with his blackened right hand to tip an object into his left hand.

He presented the ring to Harry. "Go ahead - it has been cleansed of curses."

Understanding that curses had been present, Harry hesitated, but only for a moment. He lifted it to his face and inspected the dark grey stone set in the plain gold band. Despite the softening patina of age, he could clearly see the now familiar markings that he had seen first in the Lovegood's sitting room and again on an ancient grave marker in Godric's Hollow. A strange feeling stirred deep within him, a wild idea of possibility that could not possibly be a reality.

"Professor, this design etched on the surface - Gaunt called it the Peverell coat of arms, yet Luna Lovegood's father called it the symbol of the Deathly Hallows - does either of those actually mean anything?"

Dumbledore sat back behind his desk. "As a matter of fact, both of those names carry some meaning given the proper context. You have met Xenophilius Lovegood?"

"I met him over the summer and he said Peverell was the name of the three brothers in the Tales of Beedle the Bard."

"From what I understand, Xenophilius is as knowledgeable on the details of the story as anyone, and to answer the question I'm sure you are about to ask, this is indeed the stone that belonged to Cadmus Peverell, the second brother."

Harry could only stare at this anomaly, this thing that defied nature itself, as Dumbledore continued as calm as discussing the weather.

"The Gaunt line ended when Tom was defeated by you in 1981, for inheritance law does not recognize his current status as living. Therefore the line of Cadmus Peverell has ended as well. The eldest brother Antioch had no offspring, so any legacy items of the three brothers pass to the line of Ignotus, the youngest of the Peverell brothers, whose line has one remaining member."

Recalling that the final resting place of Ignotus Peverell was only yards from his parents, Harry managed to utter, "Surely you don't mean me?"

"I do indeed. You already possess his fabulous cloak of invisibility, and the time has come to complete the set."

As he was saying this, he withdrew an easily recognizable object and placed it on his desk before Harry.

"Professor? That's your wand."

"It was for many years after I won it from its previous owner, but recently it was claimed by a new owner when you disarmed me."

"Sir? Are you saying that…" Harry paused, disbelief clouding his thoughts, "these things, the Hallows… they belong to me now?"

Dumbledore nodded.

"Does that mean I'm… what, the Master of Death?"

Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling in merriment, obviously enjoying the moment.

"I have no idea, but it should be very interesting to find out, don't you think?"

o

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