It was with much reluctance that Harry arrived in the afternoon outside the counselling room, where Richard was to be waiting for him. He rapped on the door. It took a moment to answer, and in that moment Harry considered turning this into a game of Knock Knock Ginger, and simply ditching the hallway as quickly as he could. He was about to turn around when Richard opened the door with a smile.
"Good to see you, Harry," he said, stepping aside. "Come on in."
Harry tried to smile back, but all he managed was a grimace. Richard didn't look concerned though, and he waved at a set of cozy looking armchairs, sitting so that they were partially facing eachother. Enough to allow for talking face to face, but not enough to make it uncomfortable. The room was painted in soft brown tones, and Harry was very pleased to see that the cheesy quotes had been dropped for the decor of the room. Of course, in their place were a few motivational posters, but they were at least fairly serious. In the corner the glitter of a pensive could be seen, and a locked cabinet sat beside it.
"Ah, I see you're admiring the pensive," Richard said with a small smile as he sunk down in the chair opposite Harry. "Have you seen one before?"
"Yeah," muttered Harry, his eyes downcast.
"Ever been in one?"
Upon seeing that Harry wasn't planning on elaborating Richard added that it was a good thing, because they would probably end up using it before their sessions were over.
"Right," said Harry curtly. "So what am I here for? What are these sessions supposed to do?"
"Good question," said Richard, not taking offence to Harry's blunt approach. "What are you here for, Harry? You don't have to say it to me right now. Just think."
I'm here because Dumbledore's making me be here. Harry thought miserably.
"Is your answer honest?" Richard asked.
"Are you being honest with yourself?"
"Alright then, let's get started," said Richard, flipping through some papers. "Whatever reason you feel you've been brought here for, the paperwork says a few of the facts. So, I understand that you've lost someone recently?"
"Yes," Harry said sharply. "But I don't want to talk about it."
"And I won't force you to," said Richard. "But it will help if you do - although some time to adjust first is in order, I think. So, how about we just start with getting to know each other?"
"You ... you aren't going to force me to talk about Sirius?" Harry asked, shocked, thinking of all the times his friends had been nudging him to confide in them.
"No, it's your choice. You may talk of him when you are ready. People tend to forget that. I won't."
Richard glanced a moment at the sheet.
"How about we start with just asking a few questions? Simple ones - don't worry. Just a little trust building exercise. I'll ask one, you ask me one. A bit like a game. Nothing too drastic."
"Alright, then," Harry said, surprised that Richard would be willing to answer questions too. "Can I go first?"
"What's on that paper? Did someone write bad stuff about me or something?"
"Just a few little notes about your case I made, a few comments from your friend Remus on who you are in general terms. Think of it as a vague description of a character from a book - you know, just a rough idea of who they are that helps you to picture them better."
"And what does mine say?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"Hang on - my turn to ask a question."
Harry frowned. "Okay, shoot."
"What do you like to do most in the world, and why?"
Harry felt his eyebrows raise in surprise. He'd expected something harder.
"Er, probably flying. It's easy to forget the world below you, I guess."
"Good answer," said Richard, adding a small note. "Don't mind me writing some of this down - the act of writing helps me remember small details, and thus get to know you better."
"So, what do my comments or whatever say?"
"Hmm," said Richard. "There are a fair few. Here, how about this one? "Harry is a very independent thinker and is good at finding his way through difficulties using his own skills. This makes things both easy and difficult for him. He has difficulty trusting others, which has led to him becoming very resourceful and highly competent on his own." That was Dumbledore. Sound about right?"
"Yeah. I am used to doing stuff myself."
"And why is that?"
"Hey, no fair. The last one was super easy, and now you've just jumped right off the cliff into deep water."
"So the answer isn't easy. Do you want to come back to that one?"
"Okay," Harry said, relieved.
"Wait, you already asked another question - when you asked me if I wanted to come back to it."
To Harry's surprise, Richard laughed, a deep belly laugh, his eyes crinkling around the edges.
"You're right, Harry. Well spotted. Your turn then."
"What made you want to help people and go into this job?"
Richard sighed softly, his forehead creasing. Harry could tell it was a tricky question, and he leaned forward slightly, wondering. Would Richard answer? Would he actually be honest?
"That one's into deep water too," muttered Richard. "Haven't gotten that one before. It's always - why are you trying to help me, but you put a new spin on it .Well done."
Harry leaned back into his chair, noting the hesitation written on Richard's features.
"The simplest way I can put it," continued Richard, to Harry's amazement, "is that I was making up for what I didn't do."
Harry stared deep into Richard's eyes, and it was clearly the truth. He saw pain in them, and a slight tremor ran through Richard's voice as he continued." My little brother killed himself when I was nineteen, and the signs were so clear, Harry. So clear. And I was too blind to see. So I went into Mind Healing. I suppose, in part, I wanted to make up for my lack of sight with my brother, Daniel, and also use what I learned from it to do some good for someone else."
"Sorry to hear," muttered Harry, and Richard just nodded.
Harry was silent for a long while, looking down at his feet, thoughtful. Richard gave him a moment to digest this. Harry spoke before Richard could ask a question of him.
"Why did you tell me that?"
Richard surveyed Harry slightly, looking at his wide eyed, hesitant expression. "I am a man of my word, Harry. You asked, and I want you to trust me, and how can you begin to unless you understand my motives for helping? I cannot help you if until we build some amount of trust between us."
Before he could back away, Harry spoke, his words coming fast. "Nobody cared about me when I was little - not even my Aunt and Uncle. That's why I'm used to doing stuff myself, and ... don't let people help."
"That's hard," said Richard, nodding slightly, and Harry, oddly enough, felt that he meant his words. "Thank you for telling me. It must have been very difficult growing up."
"It ... it was," Harry said, silently thinking just how strange it was to say it. To admit it, and have someone agree. It felt good. "Yeah. It was really hard."
"Do people care about you now?" asked Richard, the question game seeming forgotten by both of them. Harry didn't mind so much. Richard reminded him a little of Remus, in some ways, only a little less oblivious.
"I ... I think they do," Harry said quietly to his feet, toeing the carpet with the tip of his trainer.
"They wouldn't bring you here if they didn't care," was the soft reply. "I know you don't really want to be here, Harry. But sometimes the best things can come from the things that seem the worst at the time."
"I hope so," muttered Harry.
Richard smiled softly. "Me too."
Surprised at himself, Harry felt himself smile back slightly, if only for a moment.
The rest of the hour session had gone well. Richard had given Harry a piece of paper with a drawing of a brain on it and gotten him to write a few of the feelings he had been experiencing lately, so they could decide how to address them and how to cope with them. Among them were confusion, anger, injustice, fear, grief, instability. The last one had been written after Harry described the feeling he'd had of walking on a wire lately, and Richard had suggested the word to fit it. Harry thought that it described it fairly well. When he was done the session, Richard and he said goodbye, and Harry left for the day, promising to return at the same time the following day.
Overall, it hadn't been that bad, and Harry was at least sure that Richard wasn't horrible. He seemed alright, which was good. Harry returned to his room to find Snape lying on his bed again, staring at the ceiling.
"So, did they give you the list of reasons why you're crazy?" Snape drawled.
Harry just shrugged and flopped down on his own bed for a moment.
"Whose list is longer, do you think?" Harry added after a long moment of silence, more out of curiosity as to what Snape would say than anything.
"Mine." The word had come without thinking, and he quickly added, "Discussion closed, now go away."
After that, Snape turned his back to Harry and refused to say another word upon Harry asking him what he meant. Even when Harry asked something as simple as "Have you seen my socks?" he remained that way.
Fed up with silence, Harry got up and left for the craft room to wait for supper. He sat and drew abstract scribbles with black ink, making the fine tipped art quill travel in circles, over and over and over. All the while, Harry wondered what was on Snape's list.
It did not seem too long to Harry before everyone was shuffling off to bed. Supper had been alright, although he wasn't really all that hungry, and had only managed a bowl of soup. Snape had actually shown up to that, although he had spent most of the time just pouring his soup from his spoon into the bowl again. Harry wondered what was making Snape lose his appetite like this. Most of all however, he wondered why his Professor was here. The comment earlier had set him thinking about it, and the more he did so, the less he liked the idea of Snape being here.
Quite honestly, it scared him a little bit, to see Snape in a place like this. Harry had spent much of the meal contemplating this, and observing Snape from a distance. He was a bit of an odd sight. Gloomy, shadows under his eyes, and clothed in nothing but black in a brightly coloured room with inspirational sayings painted on the walls here and there. Nearly the whole place was like that, Harry had come to realize. Most of the ward was painted in warm, bright shades, and almost every room had a few quotations on the wall of things that were supposed to be helpful. Only the bedrooms were bare of any ‘helpful' messages.
After supper Snape promptly disappeared, and Harry spent away the rest of the evening reading anything but the stupid sayings on the walls. Harry found these little sayings irked him a great deal, especially as he wandered down the hall to his room. No, he and Snape's room. He grimaced at the thought. Amidst the rest of the men and teenage boys wandering off to their beds, Harry felt more alone than ever. He hadn't really talked to anyone today. He had kept to himself, and people had seemed to respect that. Harry supposed it was a sort of unwritten rule in this place, only disturbing those who wanted to be.
He crept quietly into the room. He had thought Snape would be sleeping, but was surprised to find him sitting on his bed, flipping through the pages of a green cloth-backed book without really paying attention to it.
"Hello," Harry said, trying to be friendly. Snape said nothing in return, so Harry went over to his things and grabbed his toothbrush.
He retreated into the small bathroom to brush his teeth and put his pyjamas on. When he came out he sat down on his own bed and stared out the small window. It puzzled him to see a field, and a grove of trees at the edge of it, waving in the wind beneath the starlight. It looked quite real to him, despite the fact that he knew St. Mungo's to be located well within the city of London.
"They charm the windows, the sneaky bastards," Snape spat rudely, having put his book on the side table and noticed Harry's confusion. "They think it's calming."
Harry almost laughed for a second. The way Snape said the word ‘calming' had been almost funny. It was as though Snape thought the charming of windows to be a criminal offence. Clearly this had been bothering him a long time. Harry turned to look at his professor, who had gotten off of his bed and was glaring at the window with a vengeance.
"They make sure it never rains because they figure it's depressing," continued Snape, arms crossed. "Annoying as hell in my opinion. I like rain. What's wrong with rain, anyway?"
The last few words Snape practically growled, eyes narrowed in disgust. His robes billowed as he turned on his heel, toothbrush in hand.
The image made Harry have to cover his mouth to avoid laughing. Although, he had to admit, Snape did have a point. Rain was rather calming, so long as it didn't linger for too long. Harry pulled off his socks and got into bed, plumping his pillow slightly. Snape emerged in a few minutes, looking odd to Harry in pyjamas. He was wearing a grey cotton shirt, and a pair of plaid flannel pyjama bottoms. Harry wasn't surprised they had green on them. Despite having seen Snape wandering around the ward earlier wearing pyjamas, Harry still felt it was strange.
"Er, mind if I turn off the light?" Snape asked. At first his voice was awkward, but his usual spite returned fairly quickly. "Or are you afraid of the dark?"
His insides simmering, Harry told himself silently to ignore the barb.
"Go ahead," he told Snape through gritted teeth.
Harry stared back at the ceiling as the light went out. After a moment he heard Snape's mattress creak. In the room the tension was thick enough the air could have been served as lumpy, pea soup. It was dead silent, except for the occasional shuffle of someone moving in their bed. After a while, much to Harry's surprise, Snape spoke.
"Did Dumbledore tell you why I am here?" Snape asked calmly.
Harry continued to stare at the ceiling, but answered, "No."
Snape paused before speaking.
"You have not told anyone where I am?"
"No sir. I couldn't even if I wanted. You know, the contract."
"Right. Well, my position as a spy was compromised," continued Snape after a few moments. "I am here in hiding, as this is the last place The Dark Lord would think to look for me. "
"So, it's all an act to fool him, being here?" Harry replied, feeling his stomach sink to the ground. Snape's position couldn't have been revealed, could it have been? It would explain some of Snape's miserable demeanour. He was probably pretty angry about being stuck in hiding. Of course, that was assuming he was telling the truth.
"Yes," Snape said sharply. "Naturally. And in case you are too stupid to come to such a conclusion yourself, it is therefore imperative you do not even allude to others that there is someone here you know, or tell any of the other patients I am just here in hiding. It would not do for the Dark Lord to find either of us. Understand?"
"Good, and if you dare to look for loopholes in that contract they give everyone, I will know. And so will the Dark Lord, because if he even hears a whisper of either of us being here, the whole hospital is in danger."
And with that final word, the tension settled over the room once more.
Harry tried to get to sleep, mind swirling at this piece of information. Dumbledore had only said to him that it was of utmost importance that he avoid letting on Snape was here too, and had not said why. Was Snape really just confined here because it was a good cover? Harry thought about it for a moment, and the more he did so, the more sense it made. He could certainly see that even if it did get out, Snape being in a psychiatric ward did make him look a little less of a threat to the Dark Lord. The Order would be likely to question Snape's information if he landed himself in the loony bin, so making this look the case would play to Voldemort's interest.
The Order. Harry frowned. They wouldn't have a spy now. With a sinking heart he wondered what the Order was going to do now that there was nobody on the inside to inform them of Voldemort's movements. How many more lives would be lost? How many of Voldemort's plans would go untold, until it was too late? He rolled over on his side, dread filling the pit of his stomach. This wouldn't bode well for him either.
Harry had hardly slept at all during the night. He had tossed and turned constantly, mulling over all that had happened and afraid to sleep in case he had a nightmare. He suspected he may have slept a few hours from about three am to five am, but he didn't remember any dreams so he wasn't quite sure. Snape was sleeping still. Being used to rising early from years of living with the Dursleys, Harry did not so much mind this. Harry got dressed in the semi darkness of the room, the blinds still closed. He had a feeling that Snape might just kill him if he woke him before he wanted to be, and Harry wasn't keen to stay in bed solely because he would have to stay in a room with Snape longer. Otherwise, he probably would have.
Carefully, he pulled on a long-sleeved shirt, covering up the scars and cuts. In the dim light he examined his left knuckle. It didn't hurt anymore, but there was a gash on there, which kept opening up and bleeding. He wondered why the healers hadn't used magic to mend the wounds. He frowned, supposing it probably had something to do with him coming to terms with the problem himself, or something like that. He wished the gash wasn't so visible, though.
Sitting on his bed and pulling on his socks, Harry stared at the paper cranes sitting on the little table between their beds. There were more on top of Snape's book than there had been when Harry went to bed. Harry had to have slept, then, or at least for some amount of time, as Snape must have folded them sometime in the night. The tiny stack of paper next to the book was also smaller.
Snape let out a soft snore. Harry started slightly, but his professor did not wake. It was strange to see Snape sleeping. He had never thought much about it, that his Professor had to sleep too. He noticed that Snape practically curled up into a ball when he slept. His left hand was just sticking out from under the covers. His fingers twitched as he slept. Harry tore his gaze away from the peculiar sight, and slowly stood up, trying not to make a sound. He crept across the room and put his shoes on. With one last incredulous glance back at his professor, Harry slipped out the door and into the hallway.
It was seven-thirty when Harry walked into the main room. A few early-birds were milling about, reading or visiting with each other. Many of the sofas in the sitting area were full. Most seemed to be waiting for eight-o-clock, when breakfast started.
Harry took a seat by the window and looked out. These windows too were charmed to a pretty wilderness scene. The waving trees and flying birds did what they must have been meant to, and greatly calmed Harry's troubled mind. His eyes wandered over to a large willow tree. It waved lazily in the breeze. A falling sensation suddenly pierced Harry's stomach as the image of the Whomping Willow filled his vision, and Sirius coming out of the passage. Sirius asking him to live with him. Sirius laughing. Sirius telling him Harry reminded him of James. Sirius flying off into the night on the back of a Hippogriff ...
Sirius falling through the veil.
"Are you alright?" asked a voice, and Harry opened his eyes, not realizing he had been clenching them shut.
It was a woman who had asked the question. She looked to be in her early thirties. She was wearing set of blue, casual robes, and her long blonde hair was in a loose, slightly messy ponytail.
"Er ... sorry, stupid question," she said, looking down at him.
"That's alright," Harry said, twisting his hands in his lap and ignoring the slight sting of the scrapes on his knuckles.
"Mind if I sit here?" she asked.
"Sure," Harry said, noticing that most of the seats in the room were already occupied.
"Thanks. I'm Daisy."
"What were you thinking about, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Bit of a difficult question to answer," he muttered.
"That's fine. I didn't really expect one," she said good-naturedly. "Welcome to Oak Tree, by the way. I noticed you coming in yesterday."
"I've been here a few weeks already, so I know my way around pretty well," Daisy explained. "If you have any questions about the place, feel free to ask me anytime."
Harry frowned for a moment. "Do you know who Severus Snape is?"
"Hmm ... yeah, I've seen him around," she replied slowly. "Why?"
"I was just wondering how long he's been here," Harry said. "He's my roommate."
"Oh. I think he's probably been here for ... four or five days? Hasn't really been out of his room much, though."
"I take it you aren't too pleased to be sharing a room with him?" she said, her blue eyes sparkling with amusement. "When you said you were roommates you looked like you had eaten a lemon." She giggled slightly.
"Not really. He teaches me potions at school, and he really hates me," Harry said miserably. "And neither of us knew that each other would be here, because I was supposed to be in the teen ward."
"That's awkward," she said. "Perhaps he just needs to get to know who you really are. Maybe things will improve."
"I can't really see that happening."
"You never know. Maybe he'll relax a little. I hope that's how it goes. Anyway, I promised I would wake my roommate Shelley before breakfast starts, so I had better get going. It was nice meeting you, Harry."
"Nice meeting you too," Harry said honestly.
As she was getting up, Daisy added, "You know, I think you would get along well with some of the other teenage boys if you approached them. Steven's a nice kid - he's the one with the curly hair. You should say hello when he comes down the breakfast. I bet you two would find a lot in common with each other."
"Maybe I will say hi."
"You should. See you around, Harry."
Daisy went over to the women's side, leaving Harry to migrate over to the dining room along with the others waiting for breakfast. They had just started serving, and Harry lined up to get his food. There was a fair bit of choice, but Harry ended up getting a slice of toast, an orange, and a glass of apple juice. His talk with Daisy had distracted him enough from Sirius so that he felt hungrier than he normally did. He glanced over at the schedule written on the chalkboard at the front of the dining hall. There were a number of activities after breakfast. He didn't particularly want to go anywhere, and thought for a moment that perhaps he would just go to his room for a while. And then he saw the activity: ‘Ground Quidditch', which was located in the gym. A part of Harry wanted to disappear into his room, but a larger part really didn't want to go back there in case Snape was hanging around. So Harry finished his breakfast and thumbed through a book while he waited for nine-thirty, so that he could got to the activity.
When breakfast finally finished Harry made his way across the sitting room, down the hall across from it and into a large room. It was bare except for one wall entirely with mirrors. Harry supposed they must be charmed not to break, if this room was for things like Ground Quidditch. The floor was of shining wood, like one would find in a gymnasium. There was a large storage room open at one end, holding a mismatched jumble of equipment, of which some things Harry didn't recognize. He saw a few battered quaffles, and before he knew it he was starting to get excited despite himself. He milled about the room, waiting for others to show up. People slowly migrated inside, until a group of about ten had formed. Four of them were teenage boys, yawning and muttering about having to get up early for the best activity. Harry supposed that the one standing near the storage room must be Steven, as he was the only one with curly hair as Daisy had described. Harry didn't have the nerve to talk to him however, and waited for the activity to begin.
After a few minutes passed and someone wearing one of the name tags that the staff wore entered the room. She was a taller woman, her hair pulled back in a bun. She had a whistle.
"Hello everyone!" she said enthusiastically. "Today's gymnasium activity is Ground Quidditch. Does anyone not know the rules?"
Harry looked around as he raised his hand nervously. Only one other person had not played before.
"Do you know the rules for regular Quidditch?" she asked, and both Harry and the other girl that had put up her hand said yes.
"Well, that will make Ground Quidditch a lot easier," she said cheerfully. Harry squinted to read her name tag. It said her name was Sandy. "It's quite a lot like regular Quidditch, except that you will be running around rather than flying, and there are only six players on each team, rather than seven.The reason for having fewer players is due to the fact that the seeker does not spend the entire game hunting down the snitch, as space is usually an issue with Ground Quidditch. Instead, any one of the players on a team will be nominated to be the seeker, and will drop their position near the end of the game for the showdown between the seekers.
"This last part happens when the designated amount of time that is to be spent playing, ends. It varies from place to place. Each team will then blindfold their seeker, and someone will put a stationary ball, being the snitch, somewhere along the pitch. The teams will be at one end of the room, and will then direct their seeker through voice commands toward the snitch. Whichever seeker arrives at the snitch and picks it up first wins. The snitch, unlike in regular quidditch, is not worth 150 points. It is instead worth fifty, seeing as there is less time for goal scoring, and less speed in this version of the game due to the lack of brooms.
"Another difference in Ground Quidditch is that the beaters do not get bats, and instead have dodgeballs. They will be throwing them at the players. Same rules apply as in Quidditch, and if someone is hit they must drop any of the balls they are holding and spin around five times before resuming play. The idea is to mimic the disorientation a bludger hit causes. The rest is just like Quidditch. Are there any questions?"
There was a general murmuring of no, and so Sandy continued.
"Alright, Steven and Louise are team captains. Steven, heads or tails?"
"Tails," said Steven as he and Louise ( an older, red haired woman) moved to the front of the group.
Sandy flipped the knut, catching it deftly and slapping it down on her hand.
"Heads. Louise, you pick first."
Louise chose a woman named June, and then Steven chose one of the teens, named Kyle. The two proceeded to choose their teams. Harry ended up on a team with Steven, having been picked near the end. At last, Sandy joined Steven's team to even out the teams, so that there were six players on each.
There was a rabble of noise as the two teams huddled together to talk strategy and decide a name for their team. Harry snorted loudly when someone suggested Crackpots United, and to his delight, the name stuck. The other team, comprised mostly of women, chose Unicorn Blitz. The only man part of Unicorn Blitz (whom Harry learned quickly was named Jonah) did not seem to mind the girlish name however, as he was too busy flirting with his teammates
The game began, and by the time the first goal was scored, Harry knew he liked ground Quidditch, even though there wasn't any flying involved. His team members seemed to be impressed with his reflexes, and Harry ended up being passed to quite a lot. He scored three goals for his team, although, in reality, this wasn't entirely that much of an achievement seeing as Jonah was the keeper, and spent most of the game focusing his attention catching himself a date rather than the quaffle.
An hour later the main part of the game wrapped up with the score 80 to 70 for Crackpots United. Unicorn Blitz, while slightly hindered by Jonah's keeping, had a wicked offense. It was anyone's game, and the time had come for someone to be nominated for seeker.
"I think we should let the new guy have a go," said Sandy while their team panted on the sidelines. "What do you say, Harry?"
Sure," he said, grinning. "It'll be the first time I'll have caught a snitch with my eyes closed, though."
"That's not what I've heard," snorted Steven, a few of the other guys agreeing. Harry thought he recognized one or two a year above him at Hogwarts. "I'm home-schooled, and even I've heard about your Seeking skills."
"Really?" Harry said, taken aback.
"Yeah, I have friends back home that go to Hogwarts. They think you're some kind of ninja." Harry couldn't stop the shock from showing on his face. "What, that surprises you? "
"Well, people are usually more interested in my stupid forehead than the rest of me," Harry said, rolling his eyes.
A few people chuckled, and then Sandy got the blindfold ready.
"Who am I seeking against?" Harry asked Steven as Sandy tied it around his eyes. He had given her his glasses for the moment.
"Ladies, please, don't all try to blindfold me at once. You can each have a turn later."
"Never mind," Harry said, rolling his eyes while Sandy busted a gut laughing at whatever Jonah was doing nearby.
"Alright, the snitch has been placed," called Sandy once both teams were ready. "Let the seeking begin!"
"Forward, Harry!" one of the teens called, and he started forward.
"Right, go right, Jonah!"
"No, your other right!"
"STOP, HARRY! Okay, Jonah's passed you now. Take three steps, then start going right."
Harry grit his teeth and started to speed ahead, holding his arms out in front of him. Nearby he could hear Jonah's feet clattering across the floor.
"Okay, stop!" he heard Sandy yell.
"Go back, Jonah!"
"Two steps forward, Harry! At your feet! GRAB IT!"
Harry knelt down and groped along the ground. His hands found a small, cool ball.
"Yes!" he said gleefully as Crackpots United let out a roof-rattling cheer.
He took his blindfold off and was met with high fives all around.
"Good directions," Harry said to his teammates, smiling.
"Ladies, ladies, calm down," said Jonah. "We may have lost the game, but you still get the prize."
He flexed his muscles a little, and most of Unicorn Blitz rolled their eyes before bursting into laughter and making their way out of the gym.
"Aw, come on, these muscles are so golden Gringotts is just begging to get their hands on them!" he called after them.
"Cool it, Jonah," said Sandy with a grin.
"Only for you, my darling," said Jonah, smoothing his pristine hair and straightening his robes before leaving the gym.
Harry followed his team out into the main area, where they all milled about for a few minutes before lunch.
"So, what do you think of ground Quidditch?" Steven asked.
"Pretty good," said Harry. "I haven't had that much fun in ... well ..."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," said Steven, looking thoughtful suddenly at the expression on Harry's face. "I kind of forgot what fun was like for a long time too. But this place is pretty good for reminding you of that from time to time, oddly enough."
"I'm starting to think that maybe this isn't going to be so bad," said Harry thoughtfully.
"It's mostly pretty good. Well, except for the showers. No locks and all, and sometimes people forget to knock. Annoying security measure if you ask me."
"I bet Jonah likes it though," Harry said under his breath.
Steven gave a rather surprised sounding laugh, to Harry's delight.
The small dinner bell was rung, signalling lunch-time, and Steven stood up.
"Want to join me and the rest of the guys for lunch?" he said, hands in his pockets.
"Sure," Harry said, following him into the lunch area. As Steven waited in line for food in front of Harry, he rolled up his slightly too long sleeves so that he wouldn't get the cuffs in the soup as he took the ladle and poured himself a bowl.
Harry saw the scars.
His first thought was of unspeakable relief that he was not alone. The second was that Daisy was too clever for her own good.