Multiple Eras
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 09/26/2004
Updated: 09/26/2004
Words: 89,188
Chapters: 19
Hits: 87,944

Laocoon's Children


Story Summary:
SEQUEL TO STEALING HARRY.````Ten years ago, Lucius Malfoy got to Peter Pettigrew before Sirius could, and the universe changed. Sirius spent years watching from a distance, until one day, when Harry was eight, he took Harry from the Dursleys. After two years in hiding, Harry returned to the Wizarding world to attend Hogwarts, only to find himself once more at risk -- once more facing Peter Pettigrew, who would like nothing better than to see Harry dead in the service of resurrecting Voldemort. ````Follow Harry and his friends -- brave Neville, clever Padma, and shy Draco -- as they are caught up in the battle for dominance between the Order and the Death Eaters.

Chapter 11

Chapter Summary:
Author's Note:
Thanks to my beta-reading braintrust: Heidi, Judy, Nny, and Tai for their grammar/style/continuity betas, Em for her Art!Betas and illustrations.

"You should have seen it!"

Harry grinned, rolled his eyes, and propped his chin on his hand as one more first-year accosted Neville in the library.

Neville was the hero of the moment, along with the other Gryffindor boys. He and Harry and Padma had hoped escaping to their usual study-table in the library might calm things down. Instead, it seemed like every student in their year -- excepting perhaps the Slytherins, who were mostly muttering mutinously about show-off Gryffindors -- had come up to ask Neville to tell the story.

Hard on the heels of this particular Ravenclaw was Draco, who tossed his book-bag on the table and threw himself into the chair, hastily.

"Sorry, sorry, sorry," he said, unpacking his parchment and quill and sparing barely a glance for the girl who was standing next to Neville's chair. "I've had to stop at Professor McGonagall's office to give back a book she said I should read because I, you know, I keep flattening things instead of transfiguring them -- I've no clue why she thinks I'm going to stop flattening things if I do harder stuff -- Neville!" he said, and his face broke into a wide grin. "How many times've you had to tell the story today?"

"Eight or nine," Neville said, with a grin and a nod at his audience. Draco made an 'oh' shape with his mouth. "Have you heard it yet?"

"Just the rumours -- too bad we couldn't talk at breakfast this morning -- and about the thing last night," Draco waggled his eyebrows in what he probably thought was a subtle manner. Padma snickered. "Stupid troll, ruining our fun. Go on then, tell us."

"Do be quiet about it this time, Neville, I'm trying to read," Padma warned. Harry, who thought that even hearing a story he'd already heard twice was more interesting than his History of Magic reading, leaned back in his chair and listened. Neville was not a born storyteller by any stretch of the imagination, but he got along well enough; he paused in all the right places for dramatic effect as he narrated how the Gryffindor boys had realised Hermione Granger was missing, and Parvati had said Hermione was just the sort to go looking for troll-sized trouble. So the boys had gone to see if they could find her, and Ron Weasley ended up locking the troll in the bathroom -- the girls' bathroom. In which Hermione had tried to hide after realising that the troll was, in fact, planning on making her a light snack.

After they figured this out, Seamus unlocked it again and they all charged in, Neville explained, and they all tried to hex the troll at once, which even Ron, who was a gifted storyteller and something of an exaggerator at that (as all good storytellers were), had not been able to deny had fairly absurd results. Neville managed to freeze one of the troll's feet to the ground so that it had to flail around a bit, while Dean accidentally levitated its club and Ron and Seamus sent a porcelain sink flying into its gut. Dean, distracted by the crash, let the club drop on its head, and it fell over as much as it could with one foot still stuck to the floor and Hermione screaming the walls down in the background.

"Brilliant," Draco murmured, as the Ravenclaw girl, satisfied with Neville's story, bounced away to tell her friends. Harry grinned and smacked Neville on the shoulder, resulting in a brief arm-wrestle that Harry won easily. "If I were fighting a mountain troll," Draco continued, "I'd definitely use the sinks thing, only I'd do it on purpose."

"And get water everywhere?" Harry asked. "I'd blind it with a good eye-sticking spell and get on its shoulders and thwack it in the head till it gave in."

"Yeah, or at least stick down both feet," Draco added.

"I'd freeze it up with a petrificus totalus before it even got to the bathroom at all," Padma said, without looking up from her book. The boys all turned to regard her, and she turned a page delicately. "As opposed to locking it in the bathroom with a student, wrecking the bathroom in the course of rescuing the student you locked in there in the first place -- "

"Listen, we didn't tell her to go looking for it, you know, she did that all on her own," Neville replied. Padma, still reading, arched an eyebrow.

"She's got a point, there," Draco said thoughtfully. "I mean, it'd be tough to petrify a ten-foot troll, but I bet the four of you could have done it together," he added, to Neville. "Each take a limb, or something."

"Yeah, well, you weren't staring it in the knees at the time," Neville scowled. "Or smelling it."

"Right, right, fine," Harry said quickly, as Padma looked up from her book and opened her mouth to say something. "The point is it's gone now and good show Neville for helping, and I'm sure if we'd been there we would have done the same."

"Ruined Hallowe'en, though," Draco said, after a few moments of silent study, broken only by Neville's sullen muttering about know-all girls and the troubles they caused. "Our plans, I mean," he added, leaning in closer, conspiratorially. "It won't be the same, but if you still want to give it a try, I've still got the book. We could do it tonight, it's not a school night."

"Are you still on about that Divination nonsense?" Neville asked. "I'm tempted to do it just to get you to quieten down about it."

"Well, if it doesn't work we won't do it again, and if it does it'll be fun," Draco said reasonably, though he blushed slightly. Even Padma could not deny this logic. "And you know I'll just keep pestering you about it until I get my way."

"Badgering," Harry murmured, and everyone snickered. "All right then, Malfoy, tonight we'll do it. Same place as before; we'll meet after lights out, and if everyone hasn't shown by midnight we'll do it with those who do. And you keep quiet about it, Neville, I don't want a dozen Gryffindors tagging along."

"I wouldn't tell," Neville said, looking indignant. "It's not like I want people to know I'm going off on some harebrained Hufflepuff plan."

"I am trying," Padma said, patience wearing thin, "to study."

Oliver Wood glanced over at them from another table and shushed her, while the boys tried not to laugh hysterically.


Where are we going? Snake asked that evening, as Harry crammed a blanket and a pyjama shirt into his bookbag in anticipation of spending the night in an unused room on the fifth floor of Hogwarts. Harry glanced around to make sure none of the others were within earshot before replying.

Meeting Draco and Padma and Neville, he said.

It's time to sleep.

Not tonight, Harry answered. You can stay here if you like.

I can sleep in your pocket, Snake answered. Harry grinned and picked him up, checking his breast pocket to make sure nothing was in it before depositing the coiled body in it.

Draco had decreed that Harry should fetch the food, which made sense, since Harry was the only one who knew how to get into the kitchens. This was a fun secret, on the one hand; on the other, Draco was closer -- the hallway to the Hufflepuff dormitories led off to the kitchens first -- and it was going to be tedious if he was the one always having to get the snack supplies.

He hesitated at the bottom of the stairs, and then slunk around the hallway to the Hufflepuff portrait, keeping just behind a statue of some rather portly Wizard with what appeared to be a jar of preserves in one hand. It wasn't long before Draco's head appeared, a yellow gleam in the dim light as he emerged carrying his bookbag and an enormous book under one arm.

"Psst, Malfoy!" Harry hissed, and Draco looked startled.

"Who's there?"

"Who do you think, get over here!" Harry said, exasperated. Draco hurried over to the statue, eyeing it as if it was possibly the one summoning him before catching sight of Harry.

"I thought we were meeting in the upstairs room!" Draco said.

"We are -- were -- listen, I want you to come to the kitchens with me so you know how to get in," Harry said. Draco nodded agreement and followed him, watching carefully as he tickled the painted pear and pulled the door open.

"Cool," Draco breathed, when they stepped inside. Harry, grinning, barely heard him over the cacophony of a thousand plates and dishes and bowls being washed.

The House-elves, when they saw their visitors, fell over themselves to be helpful; they fawned on 'Master Draco' until Denbigh had to order them back to washing after they'd filled both boys' arms with treats. They ended up stuffing most of the food into their packs and the rest into their pockets before carefully and somewhat heavily making their way to the staircases.

This was the tricky bit about sneaking around Hogwarts. The smaller stairwells were less likely to be patrolled, but were the favourite hangout of Peeves; the larger main stairs were highly visible. The caretaker Filch and his odious cat Mrs. Norris were often prowling up and down them after-hours, as well. Neville said he'd been poking around for back-staircases that Peeves might not know about, but Padma had mentioned to Harry that she didn't think Neville really had the deviousness of mind to properly look for secret passages.

Padma and Neville -- who only had to go down a few flights, rather than through the main hallway and up -- were waiting for them in the fifth-floor corridor Harry had mentioned, lurking in the shadows. Harry was sure it wasn't Neville's fault that he was such a complete Gryffindor, but he couldn't even lurk properly; his shoes shone and caught Draco's eye immediately.

"We brought cushions," Neville said apologetically, pointing to a pile of squashy cushions nearby, some scarlet, some blue with silver edges. "What smells like sausages?"

"Sausages, I think," Draco said. "The house-elves gave us a lot of food."

Harry, meanwhile, had wandered a few doors down, and was trying doorknobs in an attempt to remember which was unlocked.

"It's this one," he said, over his shoulder to the others, and Padma and Neville gathered up the cushions while Draco clutched his book protectively. Harry waved them into the little room, and they all stood inside for a moment after the door shut, looking at each other nervously.

"So," Neville said finally, "Let's see this Divinations spell then. It's a real ritual and all, isn't it? We're not supposed to do actual rituals until sixth year."

"Sort of," Draco said, while Padma tossed the cushions down and charmed up a little fire nearby, in a ceramic plate. Harry, for lack of something better to do, began arranging the cushions and lighting the candles in brackets around the walls. "It's a potion, actually -- oh, don't groan, I won't make you brew it -- and you spread it on paper and it's supposed to tell you what your fortune will be."

"That sounds like fun," Harry said, flopping down on a Ravenclaw cushion.

"It's not too bad," Padma allowed. "Only I didn't know we needed a cauldron."

"I brought one," Draco said, upending a cascade of food from his book bag as he dug around in it. "Here's the book and here's a cauldron and I have all the ingredients -- well, nearly. Did Brecon give you any apples?"

"Yup," Harry said, holding up a small bag. "Four of them."

"We only need one," Draco said, opening the book on his lap. "We have to stew it for a bit and then add some other stuff...."

"Professor Snape'd have your tongue for saying that," Neville said.

"He'd have your tongue, for sure," Padma teased Neville.

"There's good uses for human tongues in potions," Harry added, and Draco laughed.

"All right. We stew in boiling water for nine minutes precisely and then we add a well-mixed combination of specific ingredients which I have pre-prepared because I am a diligent student and a credit to Wizardkind," Draco said. "Everyone participating contributes three hairs, and then we boil it for another nine minutes, without stirring. After that we use a brush made of," he dug in his bag, "bound straw, and we brush it on the parchment and it tells us our future. Precise enough?" he asked, as he added water from a bottle to the cauldron, which he delicately floated it over the fire with a careful leviosa.

"Sausages!" Neville said, unwrapping a paper packet. He speared one on his wand and held it over the fire. Padma wrinkled her nose and accepted half of a sliced pear from Draco, while Harry helped himself to a handful of sweets.

Draco minded the potion, mostly, while Padma borrowed his book and read it to make sure he was doing it right, and Neville teased Harry about fancying Neville's sister, which led to some rough-housing when Harry protested and Neville asked wasn't Dora Tonks good enough for Harry? And Harry answered that it was her brother that he wasn't sure about....

"You'll knock it over! Stop it right now," Draco said, in such an unnaturally commanding voice that both boys stopped their wrestling immediately to stare at him. He flushed bright red, and bent back over the cauldron, muttering to himself.

"It looks almost ready," Padma said, leaning over his shoulder. "Shall we add the hair?"

Harry plucked a handful of Neville's, and then his own before Neville could retaliate; Draco carefully pulled out his, and Padma broke stray split-ends off of her usual braid.

"Ready?" Draco said. "All at once. And...drop."

The mixture went from a sort of watery soup to a thick, goopy black ooze. Harry peered at it interestedly.

"It's supposed to do that," Draco and Padma chorused.

They passed the next nine minutes fidgeting a little, handing around parchment and 'helping' Draco trim the brush he'd fashioned so that the straws were all even. The potion, meanwhile, began to thin out again, until it looked like very shiny black ink, of the expensive sort some of the older Slytherin boys used. By the time Draco finally pronounced it ready, and Padma doused the flame, Harry had smoothed his parchment so many times it was beginning to get tattered around the edges.

"You first, Padma," Draco said generously, handing her the straw brush. Padma picked it up hesitantly, glanced at the book, and dipped the brush into the cauldron, sweeping it across the parchment in broad strokes. The paper seemed to absorb the ink, and she passed the brush to Harry.

"It doesn't work," Harry said, pointing to her parchment.

"You have to be in the dark," Padma answered. "Go on, everyone do theirs and then we'll put the candles out."

Harry brushed the black concoction on his parchment, then passed the brush to Draco, who did likewise before letting Neville have a try on his paper.

"Ready?" Padma said. The boys nodded. "Nox Omnus!"

The room was plunged into darkness, except for a faint light reflected off each student's face -- light from the parchments, which were glowing strangely.

"It's got words on it!" Neville said. "I didn't write words!"

"That's the fortune!" Draco answered. "What's it say?"

"I'm not sure..." Neville frowned. "It's in really old handwriting -- look."

He held out the paper, and they saw the even but not-very-legible handwriting.

"To Make Brede Blakke..." Padma read, with some difficulty. "And then down here there's another underlined bit, Fore thee makyngie of Brede Brawne..."

"It's recipes," Neville said suddenly. "I told you it was rubbish, Draco, it's bread recipes, for Merlin's sake!"

"Black bread and brown," Padma mumbled. "Some gave them black bread and some gave them brown...it's an old poem," she added defensively, when the boys stared at her. "Listen, you don't have to believe me."

"No, I've heard that one," Harry said. "It's from a book Sirius likes. The lion and the unicorn were fighting in the town -- something like that. And the lion wins."

"Well, Gryffindor's got a lion for a mascot, hasn't it?" Draco said. "Maybe Neville's going to have to fight a unicorn or something."

"Daft," Neville muttered. "If this is so great and prophetic then, what's yours say?"

"Mine hasn't got any words," Draco answered, offering it to the group for consideration. A sinuous shape covered the page, like some kind of primitive drawing, a curving line with four legs coming out of it, ending in vicious claws.

"Looks a bit dragon-like," Harry said, cocking his head.

"I think it looks like a cat, look, it's got whiskers," Padma said.

"Wouldn't mind having a cat," Draco mused.

"Maybe it's some kind of weird dog," Harry pointed to the 'face' of the creature, which had half-folded ears.

"Are they all going to be about animals?" Neville complained. "Padma, show yours."

Padma giggled a little, and held hers up.

"Books," Draco said, staring at the drawing. "How new and different for you."

"Maybe I'm going to be a librarian," she said. "I rather like mine, I think I'll hang it on my wall as a night-light. Anyhow, I'd rather have books than some drawing of a dog that looks more like a rodent. What's yours, Harry, words or pictures?"

"Um," Harry said, looking down at his own parchment, which he'd ignored until now. "I'm not sure."

He spread it flat on the ground, smoothing it. Snaking across the page, sometimes curving and winding in on itself, was a string of letters that were almost recognisable, but not quite; the shapes were slightly different, or in some cases altogether alien.

"That's Greek, that is," Draco said. "My father's library has books in Greek."

"That's pi," Harry said, pointing to one letter. "We learned about it in maths at the Muggle school I went to."

"It's that staff thing," Padma observed. "My cousin's a doctor, she has that symbol everywhere."

"How're you supposed to unravel your fortune if it's in Greek?" Neville demanded. "That's not fair."

Harry shrugged. "It makes a nice design, anyhow. I can ask Remus what it means, he'll know someone who can read it."

"Well, that was a waste of a good apple," Neville said. "Two recipes for bread, some kind of weird...cat...dog...thing, a load of books and some Greek. I don't -- "

He was cut off by a sharp cry from Draco, who scrabbled backwards into the dark shadows when a glowing head appeared above the cauldron. Padma and Harry both yelped too -- the spectral image glowed eerily in the darkness, and it was horribly misshapen --

Neville had fallen over laughing.

"Nick!" he cried, catching his breath. "It's Nick! Draco, come back!"

The image seemed to shimmer and solidify a little, and Harry realised what he'd taken for some sort of horrible tentacle was a long feather in the cavalier hat of Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost. Draco, pale as one himself, was still shaking.

"What's all this, then?" Nick said, his floating head peering at them, turning this way and that. The rest of his body was hidden by the floor and the cauldron; it must have been a favourite trick of his, because Neville paid it no mind in the slightest, though it was rather creepy to see just a head floating there. "Having a party, are we?"

"You scared the life out of Draco," Neville chuckled, and Draco, crawling back towards the cauldron, smacked him across the shoulders. Padma found her wand and muttered "lumos omni," re-lighting the candles in their wall-brackets.

"That's very cheerful," Nick said approvingly. "But what're the four of you doing out of dormitory after-hours? That's a detention offence, you know. I ought to report all of you."

"Oh, don't," Padma pleaded. "Please don't, Nick, we were only having a little fun."

"It was my idea," Draco stammered.

"We weren't hurting anyone," Harry put in. "We were doing a Hallowe'en ritual!" he added brightly. "It's like extra classwork! You wouldn't turn us in for doing homework after lights-out, would you?"

Nick seemed to ponder this, as he rose up through the floor. He ended sitting crosslegged a few feet above the cauldron, looking down at the four of them, who had huddled together a little in the face of sudden near-parental authority.

"You'd better tell me what you were up to," he said. "And then I'll decide."

Draco and Neville quickly sketched out between them what they were doing, while Harry quietly gathered up the potions supplies in the background and made ready to make a quick getaway -- not that it would do any good against a ghost, but one never knew. Besides, he liked keeping things tidy.

"Well, seeing as how it was for Hallowe'en and that troll ruined it," Nick said finally. "I was most depressed, he wrecked my Death-Day celebration too. I was executed on October thirty-first, you know."

"Really?" Draco asked interestedly. "Chop your head off, did they?"

"Nearly," Nick said with a sigh.

"Oh. I suppose that's how you got your name."

"He's quick," Neville muttered sarcastically, to Padma.

"Alas, yes. And I was supposed to join the Headless Hunt this year, too," Nick said morosely.

"Can't you join?" Padma asked.

"They said it has to be all the way off," Nick sighed. "Otherwise I can't pitch in when it's my turn to be the ball in Headless Lacross and whatnot."

The others looked a little green at this, but Nick continued, oblivious. "One little bit of skin and muscle, you know, it really is ridiculous -- you'd think they could have finished the job. If there's one thing I hate, it's slapdash work."

"I'm very sorry," Padma said sympathetically.

All four of them jumped when a loud noise blared echoingly, and even Nick clapped his hands over his ghostly ears.

"Peeves!" Nick roared. "Stop that this instant!"

"First years out of dormitories!" Peeves blared like a foghorn, pointing.

"Oh hell, let's get out of here," Draco said, grabbing the cauldron and bolting for the door. Neville and Padma were on his heels, Harry scrabbling after them, ripping his parchment in the process as he shouldered his bag. Peeves followed them, still shouting, and they could hear Filch on the stairs.

"Back inside!" Harry called, and they ran through the room, kicking the cushions into the shadowy corners as they made for the little stairwell down to the fourth floor. Nick was still shouting at Peeves, who was apparently enjoying noisemaking so much that he didn't notice them disappearing down the stairs.

They ran through the fourth-floor room and came out onto a landing, looking around frantically.

"This way," Padma said, grabbing Neville's wrist and dragging him towards the end of the hall. "I know a passage up to the towers -- good luck!" she called over her shoulder.

Harry and Draco looked at each other.

"We are in so much trouble," Draco said.

"Maybe Filch'll go after them instead," Harry answered. "Come on, I bet there's some stairs this way. Once we hit the ground floor we'll be all right..."

He led the pale-haired boy under a low archway and down a small side-corridor, which ended in a spiral staircase that he hoped would take them all the way down, though it looked like it ended on the third floor --

They came out into a fairly large room, lit by high windows, and Harry was two steps in before Draco grabbed him and pulled him back into the stairwell.

"What are you on abo -- " Harry began, but then he saw where Draco's shaking hand was pointing.

An enormous dog, bigger than Padfoot and at least twice as wide, was creeping towards them. Its head was lowered, hackles raised, and it was growling viciously.


Its heads were lowered, and three pairs of eyes watched them. Heads. It had three heads. It was a three-headed dog...

It snarled and charged, and Harry fell backwards on the stairs. There was a pained yelp as one of the heads collided with the wall, and the middle head extended as far as it could, snapping viciously at Harry's feet. It was close enough for Harry to see that it wore a collar with a shiny brass tag reading "Fluffy" on it.

Draco, squirming out from underneath him, pulled him up the stairs until they were just around the curve of the stairwell, gasping for breath.

"What was that?" Draco asked.

"That was a bloody three-headed dog!" Harry shouted. "What did it look like it -- mmmf..."

Draco clapped a hand over Harry's mouth and jerked his head at the top of the stairs. "Filch," he whispered. Harry nodded.

"That was a dog with three heads," Harry whispered urgently. "Three heads!"

"This is the east wing, isn't it?" Draco asked. "I think that's the third-floor corridor we're not supposed to go into."

"I can see why," Harry answered.

"What do we do now?" Draco asked. Harry tried to catch his breath. "I mean, if it's a choice between detention and being devoured by a three-headed dog, lead the way to Filch..."

They fell silent, as much as they could, and listened. Downstairs they could hear Fluffy breathing heavily, snorting and investigating the steps; Harry hoped the fact that there was no door on the stairwell meant that the dog couldn't get into it. Upstairs, all seemed quiet.

"I bet he's looking around in the room," he said. "You get everything?"

"I think so," Draco said. "Cept for my parchment, but you grabbed that, I saw you."

"No, I took mine..." Harry reached into his bag. He felt Snake shift in his pocket; the silly creature hadn't even woken. He unrolled the parchment in the dark stairwell --

And Draco's strangely animalian fortune glowed up at him.

Harry cursed very inventively in Welsh for a little while, and sat on the step.

"Filch can't prove it's yours," Draco said consolingly, sitting on the step above him. "And I reckon he won't look down here. We could just hide here for a while. Unless Peeves finds us." He leaned against the wall, tapping it idly with his knuckles. "It's a good hiding place," he pronounced, with the air of a connoisseur. "We can sneak back in a bit."

Draco slipped down a step, so that he and Harry were hip-to-hip. They sat for a while, each lost in their private thoughts, until Draco turned and looked at him from under a fringe of pale hair.

"What?" Harry asked.

"Can I ask you something, Harry?"

"Sure, I guess," Harry said, still rather angry about the parchment, more at himself than anyone else.

"What's it like, living with your godfather? Is he nice?"

"Sirius?" Harry looked at Draco, surprised. "You've met him."

"Yeah, but...living with a person, I mean, it's different. He seems nice, and he sends you things and all, and you get letters from him and his butler too, which is pretty cool. But people who seem nice sometimes...aren't."

"Yeah, he's great," Harry said, ignoring the butler remark. Remus had told him not to bother correcting people. "It's just like having a dad, I guess. I don't remember my dad, but it seems that way."

"I don't remember mine either."

They lapsed into silence, ears straining to hear footsteps or Filch's low voice on the landing above. Finally, Harry gathered up his bag.

"I think it'd be safe, if we went now," he said hesitantly. Draco nodded, and they made their way cautiously towards ground level, finally parting with whispered "good luck!"s to each other when they reached the stairs to the Hufflepuff dormitory.

Harry saw Professor Snape's light on, as he passed into the Slytherin dungeons, but he paid it no mind; Professor Snape did seem the type, after all, to be working late. He paused when he heard Professor Snape, apparently talking to someone; he couldn't hear who the other person was -- they must be too far from the door. He pressed his ear to it without even hesitating.

"I thought it best to keep this private," Professor Snape said, his voice cold and hard. He'd never heard Snape use quite that tone before. "Wouldn't do for word to spread about the Philosopher's Stone, now would it?"

A murmured reply that Harry strained to hear, but his bag creaked and he missed it; Snape's reply came hard on its heels, or perhaps interrupted it. The words were like a whipcrack. "Have you found out how to get past that beast of Hagrid's yet?"

Harry caught his breath.

"You don't want me as your enemy. You know perfectly well what I mean."

Harry grinned. He wasn't quite sure what was going on, but his professor had the upper hand, and that was the important thing.

"We'll have another little chat soon, when you've had time to think things over and decided where your loyalties lie."

Harry heard someone walking towards the door, and fled; the last thing he needed tonight, after being chased by Filch and nearly eaten by a three-headed dog (a three-headed dog!), was to get caught eavesdropping on his Head of House. He nearly ran through the Common Room, barely pausing to drop his bag and lift Snake into his box on the nightstand before slipping into bed, not breathing easily until he could no longer be even suspected of having been elsewhere.

He lay in the bed and tried to digest what he'd just heard. Professor Snape knew about the dog -- well, of course he did, he was a professor at the school. The injury he'd had yesterday was suddenly beginning to make more sense. He was trying to get past the dog, to get to something else...the Philosopher's Stone? Or perhaps he'd put the dog there in the first place. Perhaps...

But the bed was warm, and before Harry could puzzle out what was going on, he was drifting off; his last conscious thought was that Professor Snape did not really seem like a 'dog' sort of person.