Continuing Tales

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 4 of 27

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Harry woke up feeling as if he were catching a cold. His eyes were swollen, his throat was scratchy, and his head was aching and muzzy. He rolled out of the four-poster bed and staggered to the sink for a glass of water. His reflection was ghastly, and he splashed water on his face, hoping to reduce the evidence of his tears. "Just don't say a word," he muttered to the mirror.

"You might try a bit more water, my boy," the mirror replied crisply. "You're not quite there yet."

If he'd been allowed to use his wand, he'd have probably destroyed the mirror then and there. As it was, he called it something Hermione would have scolded him for saying and then grabbed some books from his trunk and left the room. As creepy as the empty common-room had been, it was still preferable to remaining in the room he had shared with Ron Weasley.

He was sitting at the table, working on his Transfiguration assignment (since he was feeling considerably more charitable towards McGonagall than he was towards Snape) when the portrait hole slid open and Hermione Granger came through.

"Hi," she said quietly, almost shyly.

Harry stared. "What are you doing here?"

She raised an eyebrow to great effect but a smile played about her lips as she walked over to him. "You invited me, remember? Mr Lupin just brought me from Hogsmeade. Apparently we're to get our visit in here."

Harry, recovered from his surprise, jumped up from his chair, and pulled her into his arms, surprising her in turn. He wasn't typically that demonstrative, but his normal excitement at seeing her was compounded by the knowledge that she would help relieve the oppressive emptiness of the Gryffindor Tower. He knew that she would make him study and would probably want to spend half her visit in her beloved library, but still, the thought of her company raised his spirits considerably. He felt a tremor run through her and released her, searching her face.

"Are you ok?"

She nodded and ran a hand absently through her hair in a gesture he knew well. "Yeah. It's just…being back here. At the end of term there was hardly time to think, you know, and since then…"

"It's really sunk in," Harry finished for her, feeling a moment of perfect empathy between them. He had been so focussed on his own feelings that he hadn't stopped to think that there was one other person who felt very nearly the same way.

"You've been crying," she said softly, reaching up to touch his face.

He jerked his head away, embarrassed, and couldn't meet her eyes. "They, er, took his bed away," he mumbled, and even though that didn't begin to cover why he'd been crying, she nodded her understanding.

"I've cried off and on all summer," she admitted. "I never know what will set me off. Mum and Dad have been on tiptoes."

"D'you think it ever gets better?"

She shrugged. "I'm still waiting."

He nodded. He was used to Hermione having all the answers – or at least knowing just the right book to find them in. It was an uneasy feeling knowing that she was as lost as he was. There was no book for this.

"So," she said, indicating by her expression and tone that she was changing the subject. "What are you in for?" She gestured around the empty common-room as she dropped into the chair next to the one where he had been working.

"No idea," he said, and he related everything that had happened since Snape had arrived on Sirius's doorstep that morning. "No one will tell me a thing," he finished. "It's like I'm a bloody first year again."

"Hmmm." Her brow crinkled in that way it did when she was presented with a new problem to solve. "Obviously, they think you're in some kind of danger, but that just doesn't make sense, does it? I mean, you defeated Voldemort, Harry. If you could do that, you could do just about anything. Why should you be in such danger?"

Harry shook his head. "I don't know, but I'm not so sure that killing Voldemort wasn't more of a one-time thing. Dumbledore said…." This part was difficult to tell. "He said that I could only summon the power to do it because of my anger over what he did to Ron."

"So if Ron hadn't died, you wouldn't have been able to kill Voldemort," Hermione said thoughtfully. "I hadn't thought of that. But still, Harry, that power exists in you. There are things you haven't learned yet about how to control it, but it's there. Most sixth years couldn't cast Avada Kedavra at all, and you did it without a wand. There probably isn't another wizard in the world who could do that."

"Dumbledore could," Harry said quietly. "He wouldn't, but he could."

"I'm not so sure." Hermione stared into space for a few seconds and then snapped back to herself. "What time is dinner?"

"Five-thirty, McGonagall said."

Hermione glanced at her watch and jumped up. "Good. Then there's just enough time."

"Time for what?" Harry asked warily, recognizing the look on her face.

"A trip to the library, of course." She reached out her hand to pull him out of his chair, and the contact felt so good that he kept her hand clasped firmly in his as they left the common-room together. He and Hermione had attended one ball together, in their fifth year, and they had determined that night that a romance between them would be forever out of the question. He'd had a wonderful time – probably the best time he'd ever had at a ball – because for once he was able to be relaxed and comfortable with his date instead of a mass of sweaty nerves and overactive hormones. He'd never had a proper girlfriend, and that had been the year that he decided he shouldn't have one until the threat of Voldemort no longer hung over his head. So he'd asked Hermione and had even attempted a goodnight kiss that had left them both cracking up. It was another of those moments of perfect understanding, and there had been no question of the kiss being repeated.

Now, however, he clung to her, and there was nothing of romance about their touch. Had he been inclined toward introspection, he would have realized that he wanted to reassure himself that she was really there, that he had one friend left. He didn't examine his feelings though; he simply held on to her and felt a vague sense of gratitude that she didn't seem to mind, or even really to notice, focussed as she was on the dash to the library.

At the foot of the stairs they skidded to a halt in front of Severus Snape, who had just emerged from the dungeons looking considerably better than he had that morning. He was dressed in his familiar teaching robes and even appeared to have washed his hair. Without the exhaustion that had altered the normal lines of his face earlier in the day, he was able to assume his customary scowl at the sight of the two Gryffindors tearing through the castle.

"In a hurry?" he asked snidely.

"Sorry, Professor," Hermione replied automatically. "We were just going to the library."

"Assuming I'm allowed," Harry dared, and Hermione squeezed his hand in silent reproof even before Snape narrowed his black eyes.

"Take care, Mr Potter," Snape warned softly. "That mouth of yours has quite a history of getting you in trouble, and I can assure you that I'm not inclined to suffer your childish fits of pique at the moment."

Harry felt as if the afternoon's tears had dissolved some sort of barrier, and now he was helpless to stop the words that tumbled from his mouth. "What are you going to do, Professor? Give me detention? Take points from Gryffindor? I've got news for you – I. Don't. Care. You're going to have to come up with something a little more creative than that."

"That can be arranged, Mr Potter," Snape replied smoothly, and then he glided away without a backward glance.

Hermione looked at Harry, exasperated. "Why do you do that?"

Harry shook his head. "I'm just sick of everything," he said wearily. "I'm sick of being treated like a hero one minute and a kid with a snotty nose the next. I'm sick of being kept in the dark until it's convenient to trot me out and stand me up like some sort of human shield against evil. I'm sick of house points and detentions being lorded over me like they actually mattered. Ron's dead, Hermione. He's dead and he's never coming back, and I'm supposed to care about points for Gryffindor? Who are they kidding?"

"I know," she said, thinking for the millionth time in their acquaintance that she wouldn't want to be Harry Potter. Ron had envied Harry, she knew. He had loved Harry and he had been a faithful friend, but he had envied Harry his fame and his talent on the Quidditch field. He had envied the attention that Harry despised. Hermione understood Ron well enough to understand the envy, but she didn't share in it. Hermione craved knowledge rather than power, and peace and solitude over fame. She stood by Harry because he was her best friend and she cared about him. She endured her share of the limelight because that was the price of friendship, but she didn't enjoy it. Now she just nodded and gave him what she hoped was a reassuring smile. "Let's go to the library."

"I wonder how many times you've said that to me over the years?" Harry asked with an unexpected grin.

She giggled. "However many it is, I'm not nearly done yet. We have N.E.W.T.'s this year you know."

Harry groaned and led the way.


Inside the library, he and Hermione greeted Madam Pince, who, he was convinced, must actually live there among the stacks. She was repairing books, tapping them with her wand and muttering incantations to re-knit loose bindings and remove stains. She smiled on Hermione briefly, gave Harry a slightly curious look, and then went back to her work.

Hermione was second only to Madam Pince when it came to sheer time spent in the library, and she knew the place with the intimacy of a lover. She made directly for the section she needed, one hand lightly caressing the books by way of greeting on her way down the aisle. "Here we go," she said softly, removing three books from the shelf. "We'll start with these."

"Brilliant," Harry said. "What exactly is it we're starting?"

"We're going to read up on wandless magic – see if we can find out how you did what you did. It might give us some clue as to what's going on now."

Harry was unconvinced, but he thought it sounded marginally better than Mandrakes and mermaid tears, so he nodded and led the way to their favourite table. Hermione handed him one book and kept the other two for herself. She skimmed through the index of the first and then put it to one side. "This one's no good. It just discusses the kind of wandless magic all little kids do for a while when they first start showing signs of their powers. It's much too un-focussed to be helpful."

"Dumbledore told me that I could do wandless magic when I was just a baby," Harry said thoughtfully. "Not the accidental kind of stuff that happened when I was at the Dursleys, but intentional things, like summoning something I wanted from across the room."

"That's amazing." There was a hint of awe in her voice. "I've never heard of anyone who could do that. I wonder why you stopped?"

Harry cast his mind back as far as it would reach. "I think," he said slowly, "that it was literally beaten out of me." Hermione looked horrified, but he went on. "I can remember a few times when I was really little making something happen – like taking a toy away from Dudley – and the Dursleys just went crazy. How weird – I'd totally forgotten. I guess I just learned the hard way not to do things like that, and by the time Hagrid came on my eleventh birthday, I had no idea that I could do magic at all."

"Well, if you could do it as a baby, there's no reason you couldn't do it now," Hermione said briskly, wanting very much to pass over the discussion of his abuse at the Dursleys' hands. "Try to levitate this book." She placed the book in the middle of the table, and Harry stared at it.

"Wingardium Leviosa!"


"Wingardium Leviosa!"

Still nothing. "OK, Hermione, I'm feeling like a first-year here," he laughed. "Maybe we'd better see if the other books can help."

She grinned and reached for the next book. "A man after my own heart."

They found the other two books more promising and both were soon absorbed in their reading. Harry was the first to break the silence. "It's weird, isn't it? Like something out of Trelawney's class. All meditation and inner focus."

"Except unlike anything in Trelawney's class, this should really work," Hermione said, with her ever-apparent disdain for Divination.

"But I don't quite get how to do it. Apparently there are no incantations. I'm just supposed to be able to will something to happen."

"That's what it sounds like to me, too," Hermione said thoughtfully. "I expect it's just a matter of practice, and if you decide to pursue it, you probably will feel like a first-year for a while. You'll have to re-learn some things."

"I think it's easier just to carry my wand," Harry said. "I mean, why should I care if I can do wandless magic?"

Hermione gave him the pitying look she usually reserved for Neville Longbottom. "Harry, sometimes I just want to shake some sense into you! How much has to happen for you to finally acknowledge that you are not now and will never be a normal wizard? Wandless magic saved your life two months ago and rid the world of Voldemort. It's irresponsible of you to have that kind of power and not know how to control it. What if something happens to make you angry one day, and you just accidentally kill someone? Have you thought of that?"

Harry felt himself go pale. He most certainly had not thought of that. As much as he detested the likes of Draco Malfoy, he really didn't want to kill him over a Quidditch foul.

"And another thing," Hermione went on, clearly warming to her subject. "You're hidden here at Hogwarts for a reason, so apparently the fact that Voldemort is gone doesn't mean that you're out of danger. Wandless magic could save your life again one day."

"OK." Harry held up a hand to stop her tirade. "You've convinced me. Let me try the book again."

He closed his eyes for a moment and tried to wipe his mind completely clean. Into the blackness, he imposed the image of the book sitting in the middle of the table. With his eyes still closed, he pictured the book rising into the air. He felt…something…but he was afraid to open his eyes and see if the book was actually rising from the table. It was like lifting weights – his mental muscles began to quiver with exhaustion and he had to break his concentration and catch his breath. He opened his eyes in time to see the book falling to the table with a soft thunk.

"You did it." Hermione whispered. "It was only a little bit, but you did it."

"It was exhausting," Harry said. "I had no idea it was so much work being a wand."

She laughed. "I expect it'll just take practice. But not today. It's almost time for dinner, and I'm hungry. I've missed the food here."

"I thought the same thing at lunch today," Harry said, tucking the two books under his arm.

"Where do they serve meals over the break?"

"Staff room," he said, seeing Madam Pince making ready to close up and go to dinner herself. He hurried up to her with the two books. "Can I check these out?"

She looked a bit annoyed, but nodded her permission and tapped each book with her wand. "There. I've made a note of it. See that you get them back before you leave."

"I will." Harry was slightly offended, but he and Hermione waited for Madam Pince to close up the library and walked to the staff room with her. She chatted more pleasantly with Hermione, who was rising Head Girl and a clear favourite among all the staff, with the obvious exception of Professor Snape, who had no favourite Gryffindors.

They entered the staff room to find most of the staff already assembled. They murmured greetings to all and sundry, and Harry moved to sit next to Madam Hooch, who was always game for a rousing Quidditch discussion. Hermione chose a seat across from him next to Professor McGonagall, who seemed a good deal more pleased to see Hermione than she had been to see Harry. Conspicuously absent were Professor Dumbledore, who was still on Ministry business in London, and Professor Snape, who came and went so irregularly during the breaks that neither his presence nor absence was much commented on by his colleagues. Harry, for one, was relieved that Snape wasn't there.

Professor McGonagall presided over the meal in Dumbledore's absence and made an effort to include the two students in the conversation. Eventually, Harry was successful in introducing the subject of Quidditch, and soon he and Madam Hooch were off, enthusiastically discussing various tactics and making a date for some unofficial coaching the following day. Hermione and Professor McGonagall watched Harry gesture wildly and exchanged a smile.

At the end of the meal, Professor McGonagall inquired politely as to whether there was anything that either student required to settle in and hinted broadly that she expected them to go directly to Gryffindor tower after dinner and to stay there until morning.

"Yes, Professor," Hermione said obediently. "We'll be fine."

"See to it." McGonagall's eyes lingered on Harry for a few seconds with a look that was somewhere between suspicion and concern. She had planned to extract more information from Severus Snape, but it appeared that he had left Hogwarts sometime that afternoon. She still had no idea what it was that threatened Harry Potter this time, but she knew enough of the boy's history to know that simply sending him to the Tower was not sufficient to keep him safe. She gave Hermione a long look, silently willing her to keep her friend in line, and Hermione gave her a slight nod in return. McGonagall smiled. "Goodnight then."

Harry and Hermione had started up the stairs when Hermione suddenly stopped and turned around. "Professor?"

"Yes, Miss Granger?"

"I know it's during the break, but are we allowed to do magic while we're here?"

McGonagall gave her a tight-lipped smile. "You may, Miss Granger. The Ministry isn't checking for underage magic here at Hogwarts. It is assumed that when you are here you are adequately supervised."

There was a definite warning implied in the Professor's words, and Hermione nodded her understanding. "Thank you, Professor."


Hermione gave the password to the Fat Lady and led the way through the portrait hole. "My trunk is up in my room," she said. "I'm going to get my wand and then I'll be right back. Would you like to play chess?"

"Not really," Harry said, thinking of all the times he and Ron had played chess in that room.

"That's fine. I'll be back in just a minute."

Harry took the opportunity to go to his dormitory and get his own wand; really, it had felt very strange to be walking the halls of the castle without it. On impulse he grabbed his pillow and the duvet from his bed and then he went back to the common-room. Hermione was waiting and had used her wand to light a fire. Even though it was summer, the massive stone castle was draughty and tended to be chilly at night. She sat before the fire with her knees drawn up to her chest and looked up at Harry with a smile as he entered.

"Good idea," he said, nodding in the direction of the fire.

"Camping out?" she asked, gesturing to the bedding in his arms.

He dropped it all on the couch. "Yeah. I thought I might just sleep in here."

"I understand." She looked at the fire again and then gave him an impish look. "Wanna see something?"


She pointed her wand at a nearby table. "Accio book." The book soared over to her and she flipped through it until she found the desired page, and then she read intently for a moment, furrowing her brow.

"Wow!" Harry teased. "Hermione reading! That is exciting. Thanks for showing me."

"Shut up, you." She stuck her tongue out at him. "I want to be sure to get this right. It's my own little attempt at wandless magic."

She closed the book and then her eyes, and suddenly where she had been sitting there was a small brown terrier with a quantity of unruly hair.

Harry's eyes popped, and Hermione sat smugly on her haunches and panted at him. "Bloody brilliant! When did you learn to do that?" he exclaimed. "I sure hope you know how to change back."

A second later she proved that she did, though she managed to land hard on her bottom in the process, which made Harry laugh. "I'm still working on my landings," she admitted ruefully. "Sirius makes it look easier than it actually is."

"That's incredible!" Harry enthused. "I had no idea."

"I started working on it last year," she said. "I thought about the Marauders and how they had become Animagi to help Mr Lupin. It occurred to me that I might be able to help you someday if I became an Animagus too. I finally figured it all out right before the end of the term, and of course, I haven't been able to practice over the summer."

"You're incredible," Harry said admiringly. "Can you teach me?"

"Sure. It just takes time and practice. Your Transfiguration marks are good, and that will help loads."

She began explaining the rudiments of the Animagus transformation to him, and from there they passed on to other topics until hours had flown by and they were both stifling yawns.

"I'd better get to bed," she said regretfully. "This was fun, though."

"It was," Harry agreed, standing up and stretching thoroughly before reaching for his pillow and blanket. "I'm just going to kip here by the fire. Give me a kick when you get up in the morning."

"Will do." She crossed over and gave him a peck on the cheek. "'Night Harry."

He tugged one wild brown curl. "G'night."

He heard her soft steps on the stairs as he made his bed in front of the fire. He was comfortable enough there, and tired despite his nap that day, but sleep eluded him. The Tower still seemed so empty, and he felt terribly alone in the common-room by himself. He stared at the fire, watching it snap and dance and wondering again what it was that had caused him to be sent to Hogwarts. Nothing good came to mind, and he was starting to depress himself when he once again heard Hermione's footsteps on the stairs. He sat up in surprise and blinked at the fuzzy figure standing before him. He reached for his glasses and the world had edges again. He noticed that she was wearing summer pyjamas and holding her pillow and blanket.

"What are you doing here?"

"Couldn't sleep," she said, spreading her blanket beside his and tossing down her pillow. "It's too empty up there." She gave him a shy smile. "Thought we might make it a slumber party."

He nodded. "I couldn't sleep either."

She lay down and wrapped herself in her blanket as he removed his glasses again.

"Goodnight, Hermione."

"Goodnight, Harry."

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 4 of 27

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