Habitual Protests
by DragonLight


Leaning against the stone wall, Harry licked his lips and tried to catch his breath.  It was always colder in these corridors then it was elsewhere in the castle.  He pulled on the edge of his robe sleeve with his fingers, hiding his hands in the sleeve and searching for warmth that he wouldn't find.  He was doing this, he was, and he didn't care if it was a stupid idea.

Sucking in a breath, Harry darted around the corner and skidded to a halt near a statue, ducking behind it and making sure that he was once again not going to get caught by wandering Slytherins.  That would be bad.  That would be worse than bad.  It would be very bad.  Especially if one of them caught sight of the jars of jellied slugs and candied eyeballs that he had hidden in his robes.

Just a bit further and he'd be at the entrance to the Slytherin common room, and then, if his luck held up like it should, he would be able to mutter the password from the list he'd swiped from Snape's locked drawer -- never mind thinking about what he'd done to get into that locked drawer -- and he could...  He'd figure out what to do with the slugs and eyes when he got in there.  That would surely be the easy part.

One more corridor with another dash until he was hidden from sight by the wall and he'd be able to make a break for it and--

Snape's hand settled on his shoulder.

Bugger.

"Mr Potter."

Harry's head fell and he stared at the toes of his shoes.  He should have known he wouldn't get away with anything in this area of the castle.  Elsewhere, of course, but here, no.  Not with Snape lurking about and saying his name with a slow drawl that seemed to extend it more than was absolutely necessary, as if he was savoring each nuance of the words, but that couldn't be possible because Snape hated him and he hated Snape regardless of what he'd done to get into the locked drawer in Snape's office.

"What do you think you are doing down here so late in the evening?  Don't you have other students to impress with more acts of your foolish heroism?"

Harry shook his head.  "No, sir.  I don't suppose it'd help matters if I told you I got lost, would it?"

"No, it would not," Snape paused.  "It would, however, be beneficial for you to return to your lessons in my office."

Harry grimaced.  He'd forgotten about those.  Had for the last three weeks.  Since he'd got the list for the month's passwords from the drawer.  Odd how he was telling time by how long it'd been since he had broken into Snape's locked drawer.  Harry decided he must do something about that.  Like forget, but not, and was that even possible.

"Yeah, about those lessons, sir.  I was thinking--"

"A miraculous feat in and of itself, I'm sure."

Harry coughed and his eyes narrowed.  Of course really, if he thought about it -- and Harry wished he wasn't thinking about it -- it was deserved.  He had blown off -- no, not going there either.  Harry made a note to scrub his traitorous mind with steel wool.  He had conveniently forgotten to attend the private lessons in Snape's office since the Drawer Incident.  Bloody hell, he'd given it a name.  Sighing, Harry gave up.  "I'll be there tomorrow, sir.  Seven o'clock as agreed."

"Good.  And, Potter--"

Harry glanced up.

"The passwords to the common room have been changed."

"Thank you, sir."

~///~

Harry slouched down against the wall.  Remedial tutoring in multiple subjects due to his poor showing on his OWLs and the favouritism of his professors.  Except for Snape.  With a sigh, Harry thought about the last session with Snape that he had spent grousing about the injustice of it all and then the torture session that Snape considered an Occlumency lesson.

The door to Snape's office flung open and Draco came out.  Just the person that Harry wanted to see.  It would make his day.  

"Potter.  Here for more remedial Potions tutoring?  Didn't you just have tutoring with McGonagall the other day?  Failing Transfiguration as well?  What classes did you get into on your own merits?"

Biting his lip, Harry pushed his way into the office past Draco who was blocking the way and slammed the door in Draco's smirking face.

"This ruse is becoming ridiculous.  Remedial Potions and remedial Transfiguration, remedial Charms, and yesterday I got a message from Dumbledore that he thinks he should have a hand in my training or whatever this nonsense is and the perfect cover for it -- to avoid accusations that I'm his favourite student or something stupid like that -- would be Remedial Defence Against the Dark Arts!  DEFENCE!  I don't need remedial tutoring in Defence!  Everyone already thinks I'm the biggest IDIOT to ever attend Hogwarts!"  Harry broke off to drag in a deep shaky breath.

"Tell me, Potter, am I the only professor that has donated valuable time to your continuing education that you verbally abuse in such a manner?  Or should I compare notes with Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick?"

Harry threw himself into the chair by Snape's desk and sulked.  Of course he didn't yell at McGonagall or Flitwick.  He liked them.  He hated Snape.  Definitely hated him.  And all the while Harry ignored the large desk that took up the majority of his view and tried to forget all about the locked drawer.  Tried and failed.

"I thought you never wanted me to attend another lesson again, sir."

"My thoughts on the matter were brought into question by the Headmaster."

"Again."

He knew it was the wrong thing to say as soon as it left his mouth, but Harry was always saying the wrong things.  Just how wrong he was in what he chose to say was shown to him the moment Snape descended upon the chair he was sitting in.  One hand wrapped around Harry's throat and the other settled on the edge of the chair.

"Now, Potter," Snape's voice was cold enough to make Harry shiver, "I understand that you were… disturbed by certain things that happened during our last session, but I assure you I am not at fault.  Nor did I mean for anything of the sort to happen."

"I don't believe you."

"Of course you don't."

Snape was close.  Too close.  His face filled up all of Harry's view and all Harry wanted to do was shrink away, escape the office and flee, but another part of him refused to let him run away, so Harry did nothing, just sat there as Snape yelled.

"You NEVER see anything that you don't want to.  Your father was the same way.  As long as he wasn't faced with the reality that the world did not revolve around him and that mutt Black, he was happy and fine.  Well, Potter, the world does not revolve around you either.  We're just the unfortunate sods that need you to save our necks because some charlatan for once in her wretched life deemed it necessary to have a true prophesy!"

"Twice."  Harry coughed as Snape's hand tightened on his throat.

"What," Snape growled.

"She had two true prophesies.  Or was it three.  Either way, you're wrong, sir."

Snape's eyes narrowed and his fingers dug into the tender flesh of Harry's neck before he spun away, scraping his nails across Harry's skin and leaving red scratches.  "Shut up."

Harry swallowed, his hand lifting up to his throat to rub at the stinging marks.  "Yes, sir."

Snape was breathing hard, almost like when-- no, he was not going to think of that -- like he did whenever he spent too much time yelling at Harry.  His shoulders lifted and fell in a fast rhythm as Snape tried to regain some composure, but he would fail.  Harry had a way of drawing out and destroying any small bit of composure the man had.  He'd be proud of the fact, except that his pride at having such an effect on Snape confused him so he locked it up in a drawer somewhere in his mind -- a drawer that looked suspiciously like the one he'd broken into -- and tried to forget about it.

"Prepare yourself."

Harry nodded and slid out of the chair.  He crouched close to the ground, where the air was even colder and when he breathed in it, it would burn his throat and give him something to focus on and think about other than the expected invasion of his mind.  Besides that, he didn't have to fall quite as far to the ground as he never failed to do.

He hated Occlumency and Legilimency.  And he hated Snape.  And maybe he even hated Dumbledore for forcing him down here, though maybe he didn't.  He didn't mind coming down here except for the Occlumency and Legilimency that occurred.  And because of Snape.  He couldn't forget that one.

Snape tore into his mind, ravaging his way through his memories good and bad.  Harry squeezed his eyes shut tight, trying to keep from seeing that which he didn't want to see, but the images were still there, burning onto the backs of his eyelids instead of in the air in front of him.

He didn't have the will, never had the will it seemed to stop this until suddenly he did and he was able to turn the tables, but today he didn't want the tables to turn.  Something would happen.  The tables had turned the day he'd broken into the locked drawer and Harry still wasn't sure how he felt about that.

No.  Nonononono.  Of course because that's where Harry's mind had turned, that's the image that was currently playing out against his eyelids.  There, he was, clutching onto the corner of Snape's desk, breathing hard and trying to catch his breath.  Shock in every line of his face.  That wasn't what he had wanted to see.  Him and Snape like that.  No.  It wasn't possible.  It didn't make any sense.  And then Snape was standing far too close, looming over him almost.  Staring down at him -- maybe sneering, Harry wasn't sure.

No.

It was like pushing against a brick wall.  No matter how hard he pushed, nothing seemed to move, until the object that he was pushing against, just vanished, and Harry fell forward onto his knees, the cold stone biting into the skin of his hands.  He hated Snape, he hated these lessons, and he wanted to leave.

"Is that enough for today, Professor?"  Harry's voice was quiet and slow, the sentence broken up by his gasps for air that wasn't tainted with memories of what had happened.  He wanted air that wouldn't remind him of that.  What had he read once, that smell is link irrevocably to memory?  Would he think of that every time he stepped into Snape's office from now on?

Could he maybe convince the Headmaster that he just wasn't cut out to be the Boy-Who-Lived and maybe they should give the job to Neville?

"When is it ever enough," a thoughtful pause, "Potter?"

"I don't like it when you say my name like that.  Stop it."

Snape's hand landed on his arm, its hold tight and he drew Harry up until Harry's face was even with his.  "Is it a bad memory," Snape breathed.

Harry wanted to nod his head.  Wanted to show revulsion and disgust, but he couldn't and instead of nodding, Harry found himself shaking his head.  "No."

"I see."

"Glad that someone does because I sure don't."

Snape dropped his arm and backed away.  "It's memory bleeding.  Don't think a thing of it.  The door is in the same place as it always is."

"And now you're sending me away!  It figures.  You don't explain anything.  What if I had gone to Dumbledore?"

Snape's eyes narrowed and he approached Harry yet again.  "And if I had told the Headmaster -- his respectful title, boy--"

Harry gulped and pressed back away from Snape.

"-- that you stole from me, what then?"

"But you," Harry spluttered and his words tumbled one over the next.  "But you… but you… but…"

"But I what?"  Snape grinned, a wicked grin full of trouble and promise?  No, not promise.  Trouble and… and… and… damn, it was promise.  A knot formed tight in the pit of Harry's stomach, twisting and causing his train of thought to scatter.

"Well, Potter?"

"You…"  Another gulp.  "You know what you did!"

"This?"  Snape's face drew ever nearer, and Harry's breath caught in his throat, making him gasp and squeeze his eyes tight shut.  Snape was going to kiss him again, touch him again.  Where was the revulsion, where was the desire to flee?

And it was then that Harry knew it'd never been there to begin with.

Fin