Bane of my Existence

By Dream Howler

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Author Notes: Well, sorry it has taken so long to get this out. I have had several bouts of writers block last year that made it hard to write a chapter last year. Thanks for reading and for your patience.

Author Thanks:Thanks to Keikokin, Yvette, and Gabby for helping me, beta read this chapter.

Copyright Notice:This plot/story is ©2004 - 2013 by Dream Howler. This story is the sole property of its author, and may not be copied, in whole or in part, or posted on any other website without the written permission of the author. As for the characters and anything you recognize from the books that are in this story, they are the property of J.K. Rowling. I am not receiving money for writing this story, and have no money for any lawyers to take should they decide to sue me.

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*~*~*~*~*~*

Chapter 10 Recap:

Remus has been taking the potions that Severus has given him for several months now, and Severus realized that he had almost created a cure for Werewolves. All Severus had to do was figure out what essential ingredient was missing from the potion, with some further testing, and he would have a cure for Remus. If he succeeded, he would be more famous than the person that invented the Wolfsbane Potion himself. Severus is especially pleased with himself.

Harry eventually found out that he and Draco had dream sex due to a potion. Harry wasn't very happy to learn that the house-elves in the Malfoy family used it often to settle disputes between their Masters, so it shouldn't have been much of a shock that it was used. Draco told him about his past sexual experiences, and promised Harry that they could re-enact the dream at any time he wished.

Severus accepted that Harry was not the young man that he thought he was, and allowed him to see some of his memories of Harry's mother. Harry was extremely grateful to him, and Severus felt out of his element when Harry started crying.

Draco's mom went into hiding, and Voldemort found out that he no longer had access to the vast Malfoy fortune. When he summoned Severus to step up his plans, Severus had to inform Dumbledore that Ron Weasley would be kidnapped at the earliest opportunity. Harry had a hissy fit when Dumbledore didn't seem like he cared if Ron was kidnapped or not.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chapter 11 - Courting, Classes, Nagini, and Spies

The last several weeks before the Hogsmeade weekend where Ron was slated to be kidnapped, Harry, Hermione, and Ron were constantly talking among themselves in the Room of Requirement, trying to figure out a way to keep Ron out of Voldemort's hands. It was obvious that Dumbledore wasn't working on the problem, or if he was, he was keeping Harry in the dark as usual. Harry had told Dumbledore that he was tired of being left ignorant of things that concerned him, but apparently, his words were ignored.

Harry didn't seem to remember that Dumbledore was old, dying, and may have just forgotten. Since he thought he was being ignored, this of course, made Harry even angrier than usual. Harry didn't even think of going to the ex-Headmaster and reminding him of the dire situation that was about to befall Ron. After several long conversations with his friends, it was decided that Harry would cast his custom disguise spell on Ron, changing his appearance so he would not be captured. Then they would spread a rumour that Ron had gotten hurt, and was in the hospital wing for the weekend.

Ron, of course, wanted to know how to cast the spell and how to counter it, but Harry refused to teach him. Ron, as usual, threw a spectacular anger fuelled tantrum. Ron had never been good at keeping his temper under control. Harry wasn't sure if it was because he was a red head, or if it was a Weasley trait.

After he calmed down, Harry went on to explain to Ron that it took a lot of magical power to cast the spell and maintain it, and if Ron didn't have enough power to generate the spell, there was no telling what might happen to Ron as a side effect. After that, Ron finally agreed with Harry, trying to cast Harry's spell would probably be a bad thing after all. After all, Ron didn't want to become permanently disfigured if the spell backfired on him.

*~*~*~*~*~*

When the appointed Hogsmeade weekend came, and there was no word from Dumbledore, Harry proceeded with his plan. After a quick, non-verbal spell, Ron was able to join the student population as someone else entirely. Hermione had also pointed out that Harry and Hermione should be disguised as well. It wasn't a hard decision since it would be very suspicious that Harry Potter and Hermione Granger were running around with someone new. Therefore, Harry became his alternate persona, Anton, and Hermione became a blonde with long flowing locks of hair. This of course, frustrated the Death Eaters that were supposed to be looking for Ron.

Later that day, the Death Eaters came back to Voldemort empty handed, which caused Voldemort to lose his temper and fire several rounds of Crucio on his subjects. Luckily, one or two of them was able to pick up from several whispering students that Ron Weasley was in the hospital wing all weekend due to an accident. Voldemort wasn't happy since he had changed his plans last minute to capture all of the Golden Trio, and he was livid that his Potions master didn't inform him of the change. His Death Eaters stuttered that they were sure that the rest of the trio must be at Hogwarts since they didn't see either of them in Hogsmeade either. However, Voldemort's anger was not appeased by this information, and gave them leave to go with a warning to try again the next Hogsmeade weekend.

Not only was Ron not in the hospital wing, but he was having a great time being someone else. Several girls had actually started flirting with Ron that had never paid attention to him before. It was an eye opening experience for Ron. Luckily, for him, he told each of them that he already had a girlfriend. If he hadn't, he was sure that somehow, he would end up talking to her about the situation and she would probably hex his balls blue. It didn't do well to piss off a Slytherin, and though Ron might sometimes be a bit slow on the uptake, he had learned that at a very young age.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Since his retirement, Dumbledore had actually forgotten about the incident involving young Ronald Weasley. He was living with his brother at the Hogs Head Pub so he could be close to the school, but it seemed that all he did these days was sleep. His only excuse was that he was cursed, dying, and old. His memory just wasn't what it used to be. Luckily, Harry had set up a plan and put it into action, leaving him to send someone to disguise themselves as Ron in the hospital wing just encase one of the Death Eater spies decided to check on the story.

Of course, Harry didn't find out that he had helped until several weeks later. However, by that time, Harry and the Trio had concluded that Dumbledore couldn't be relied on anymore. He was just too sick in order to help with the fight anymore. Dumbledore had looked over to his constant companion for most of his adult life and sighed as he read the letter. He had held onto his post longer than he should have, but he just wanted to be around until the final battle. The way things were looking, he might not make it, but he would help as much as he could before he left for the next great adventure. He also resolved to try harder to counter the curse on his hand.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Albus Dumbledore arrived at the castle, seeking out Severus about his progress with the cure, but found Minerva instead. She was glad to see him, but he could tell that the strain of being Headmistress by herself was taxing her. Normally, the Deputy took over some of the duties of the Headmaster to make it easier for them to run the school. Since she was filling in both jobs, and still teaching, she was seriously exhausted.

They both adjourned to the Headmistress's office and sat down. It felt odd that Minerva took the chair that he had once held for many years, but he had to realize that it wasn't his duty anymore. However, after working so many years with Minerva, he felt somewhat protective of her.

"Minerva, you need to select a Deputy for yourself. You can't keep trying to do this job all by yourself and teach classes."

"I know, Albus. I just don't know whom to choose. I have been over every applicant and even some of the Professors here. The only one I know could handle the job is Severus, and he won't take it. He says he has a duty to train Potter. All I see him doing is singing with that band of Mr Malfoy's, but I suppose when they are alone, that he could be training the boy."

"He is indeed, Minerva. I asked him to train him after I had to leave Hogwarts. I realized that the boy needs to survive, and there is no way he will survive if he has to learn the limited arts taught here at Hogwarts. In fact, I have several ideas to improve the curriculum if we can get the board to agree. I thought about some of them seriously for the last several years, but I didn't see the need for them at the time. With the second coming of the war, I thought several new classes should be taught."

"Like what, Albus?"

"Well, some of these have nothing to do with the war, but I thought they may be helpful to make a more rounded curriculum. We have nothing for kids that do not excel at sports. Even if we don't add them as real classes, I think we could perhaps start some clubs as the Muggles call them. A Muggle self-defence class would be good. I have often heard Mr Potter remark that Wizards wouldn't know what to do with themselves if their wands were lost. I was also thinking of a couple of music classes. After I discovered Harry's little secret, I realized that I missed the music that used to flow through Hogwarts. I have a feeling that Professor Flitwick would love to be able to have a singing club. An art class perhaps or even just an art club wouldn't be remiss. I know Ms Lovegood has often remarked that it would be nice to know how to do all the magical portraits in Hogwarts.

In addition, I think that we need a class for students that were raised in the Muggle world that is mandatory. I hate to say it, but so many Muggleborns go back to the Muggle World because they don't know how to get along in our world. It would be nice if we could prevent that, and help them adjust to their new culture, or learn to tolerate different beliefs."

"You have indeed been thinking a lot, Albus. I agree that a self-defence class would be an important addition I could ask the board about. It may be a tough sell with the board since it is one more thing Muggle. However, I am sure, if I could bring you with me, and maybe if the board agrees, I am assuming you would like to bring Mr Potter along? Perhaps they will listen long enough to realize that times are changing and we need every advantage in this war. I also agree that a class for the incoming Muggleborns would be a good idea. I always have to spend extra time with them, as they don't know the simple things that students raised in our world know. I also know that several of the teachers do not do this, and it makes the classes harder. Perhaps a class that teaches all the basics of each class wouldn't be remiss either."

"I agree, bringing Mr Potter sounds like an excellent idea. Let's ask him when we get a chance. Now, while I agree that Severus would be an excellent choice for the Deputy position, I think with the number of commitments she has, that perhaps Professor Sinistra would be a good choice. Most of her duties are at night or late afternoon, so she hasn't a lot to do during the day light hours so she has much more free time than most of the applicants."

"As you wish, Albus. I will ask her today."

Albus nodded. "Now, if you will excuse me, I need to seek out Severus. I would like to know the status on his potion he is making for me."

Albus stood and started to walk toward the door. "Oh, by the way, Minerva, perhaps after you ask Mr Potter concerning the board meeting, could you ask him to put on another concert. I would like to see another one, just in case Severus is not successful at creating a cure. It would make me quite happy."

"Of course, Albus. Though I wish you wouldn't talk that way."

"Ahh, Minerva. There is no need to feel sorry for me, if Merlin is ready to take me on that next great adventure, I am ready."

*~*~*~*~*~*

When Harry was approached to go to a board meeting, he certainly didn't expect such a warm reception of the school board. He was welcomed and his opinion seemed to be valued. When questioned, the board members told him that a Potter had been on the Board of Governors for many generations until Harry's father had died. If Harry's father had lived, he would have taken his rightful place on the Board. Apparently, many of the positions on the board were hereditary.

It stunned Harry so much that he found that he sat half the meeting confused because not one person had told him that he would one day inherit a position on the Hogwarts Board of Governors. However, on the bright side, it looked like several new classes were being added to the curriculum, provided they could find a teacher for them. When the Board of Governors asked Harry about the self-defence class, he was particularly vocal about it. He also advised the board that he knew someone who would be perfect to teach the class, but he was unsure if they could convince her.

Prudence Oona was a half-blood witch whose father was a famous Martial Artist in the Muggle world. Harry had met her in a café that he had been lingering in before Professor Dumbledore took him away to acquire Professor Slughorn as a professor. That summer when he went to visit her at the café, she would amaze him with her knowledge of self-defence and even taught Harry a few things. She was a Master in her field, but it was hard to find a job in the field if she didn't want to be overshadowed by her famous father, so she worked part-time at the café and worked part-time as an instructor at a small Muggle youth centre.

*~*~*~*~*~*

With the Board's permission, Harry was able to go on a quick road trip to Muggle London with Professor McGonagall. When Harry walked into the café, he was hoping that Prue was on duty that day. He hadn't talked to her since the summer, but he was sure that she was supposed to work that day. He was suspicious that she was a witch the first day they met, when she saw the Daily Prophet in his hands, and hadn't asked about the pictures in the paper moving, though he was sure she saw them. He had shrugged off the feeling the first time because he thought she was a Squib, as he was sure that the newspaper was probably charmed not to allow Muggles to view the moving pictures.

However, the next time he came back to see her, he caught her red handed. He was the only one in the shop that morning, when all of a sudden Harry saw a wand sneak out of her pocket, and the large spill a man had just left was gone. She hadn't realized that she had been caught since she was pretending to mop up the spill, but when Harry mentioned it to her; she denied it at first. She finally confessed that she was a witch, to which Harry grinned and told her that he was a wizard. They started up a wonderful friendship at that point.

Leaning over the counter was Prue; she was pretending to clean off the counter, while she magically cleaned it. She was rather sneaky about her cleaning; it was only Harry's keen tingling feeling of all things magical that allowed him to spot her. He grinned and sat down in front of her, startling her slightly.

"Harry, what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at school?"

"I came to talk to you, is there a way you can take a break for a bit?"

"Well, I can ask the manager if it's really important."

"It is. I might have an opening for you that you may like."

"Opening? What are you talking about?"

"You'll see, just get some time to talk to me. I will be outside."

As Harry walked outside, he could hear Prue rushing behind the swinging doors of the café to talk to the manager. Several minutes later, Prue was outside waiting expectantly. "She said I had five minutes, so we might want to talk fast."

*~*~*~*~*~*

Professor McGonagall looked the young woman up and down for a moment before speaking. She vaguely remembered the young woman before her; she had been a quiet Ravenclaw at the time she knew her. "We have a position for a self defence instructor opening at Hogwarts. Mr Potter said you may be interested."

Prue looked over toward Harry and her face lit up. "Really? I would be honoured to join the staff, Professor McGonagall. When can I start?"

"Well, even though we have already started the new school year, the Board has allowed us to make an exception and ask you to start after the New Year, if that is all right with you. We would advertise the class in the intervening weeks before Yule break, and have those that sign up ready for you at the beginning of January."

"That soon? Wow, I... Harry? Was this your idea?"

"Well, actually, it was Professor Dumbledore's idea to begin with. I was the one that suggested you to the Board, and they said to see if I can get you to join the staff."

Prue squealed and hugged Harry tight. "You have just made all my dreams come true, Harry! I will never forget this!"

Harry chuckled and smiled, hugging her back. "You are welcome, Prue. Just do a good job. I don't want them thinking they hired someone that didn't know what they were doing."

"Not a problem. Well, guess I can go tell Sarah that I quit, and arrange for someone to take over my classes at Halewood. I can't wait! Not having to hide my magic will be nice. There wasn't much call for a self-defence instructor in the magical world. I mean I could have done something else, but it was my first love. I should have gone with my first instincts and got a job in the Wizarding community, but dad convinced me that it would be better to use my skills here where they were more needed."

"Well, Ms Oona. I am glad that we could be of assistance. I hope that you will teach Mr Potter here all he needs to know to defend himself."

"Well, he already knows some; I started teaching him on my days off last summer. He just has to take his test, and he will be a yellow belt. Therefore, he will be in a different class than some of the other students, but I will make him a Master in no time. He is a very quick learner."

Professor McGonagall smiled at Harry. "Good, the more he learns, the better his chances are. Come along, Mr Potter. We need to get back to Hogwarts before your friends think you are missing. Ms Oona, please take this Portkey that will send you to the gates of Hogwarts. When you are ready to come to Hogwarts, just tap it with your wand and say teach, and it will bring you to the school. It was nice to see you again, Ms Oona."

"Thank you, Professor McGonagall. I really appreciate this opportunity. I will make sure to have a schedule made up for the beginner's, and more advanced classes on your desk by the end of Christmas break."

*~*~*~*~*~*

Severus and Anton sat in the practice room right before Yule break, attempting to put music to song that Severus had written, and Anton had to admit he was surprised that Severus had came up with it. He had no idea that his Professor felt that way. It was a wakeup call for Anton. Severus wanted the world to know to keep fighting, to keep their head held high in the coming battles. Severus called it The Climb.

I can almost see it.
That dream I'm dreaming, but
There's a voice inside my head saying
You'll never reach it
Every step I'm takin'
Every move I make
Feels lost with no direction,
My faith is shakin'
But I, I gotta keep tryin'
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down, but
No I'm not breaking
I may not know it, but
These are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep goin',
And I, I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on, 'cause

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

Yeah

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody's gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

Yeah, yeah yeah

Keep on movin'
Keep climbin'
Keep the faith baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa, whoa, oh.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Right before the Yule Holidays, Harry, Draco, and Severus were off practicing with the band for their upcoming Yule Concert. While the boys were occupied, Hermione decided to address the Blaise situation. Hermione still hadn't told Blaise that she knew that he was her suitor. The fact that she was even being considered as a pureblood's wife was a great accomplishment for a Muggleborn. The rest of the Hogwarts female population was already jealous of the wonderful gifts that had been already sent to her. She only hoped that she lived up to his expectations of her.

Privately, she went to Professor McGonagall, and asked her to be her chaperone for the first meeting that had been arranged. Her Professor was thrilled to be asked, and told Hermione that he was a good boy, despite being a Slytherin. She had always thought well of him, and he was a good student.

The meeting took place at the next Hogsmeade weekend. Blaise had rented a private room at the inn, and with their chaperone in tow, they had a quiet dinner. Blaise found it funny that Hermione had known so long about his identity and never said anything. He knew he had chosen well when he had decided to court her. Who wanted a dull pretty wife with no brains, when he could have the prettiest, smartest witch he knew with a brain to match his own.

The meeting was a complete success on both parts, and they arranged to meet again at the next Hogsmeade weekend, and agreed on several study sessions where they would be in the company of Professor McGonagall in her classroom, or in the library, supervised by Madam Pince. Until they finalized the plans for the marriage, they would be chaperoned by an adult in some fashion.

Blaise for his part had already made up his mind the moment he started to court her. He found her pretty, intelligent, and besides all of that, she was a good political move. He didn't mention that to her that being Harry Potter's best friend swayed the scales in her favour. He was too Slytherin to let her know that he had originally set his sights on her because of who she was friends with.

It no longer mattered to him whom she was friends with because after they started talking, he fell a little more in love with her the longer he associated with her. She was a joy to be around, even if she was a little bossy sometimes. Privately, she reminded him of his mother, he just hoped that she didn't plan to dispose of him, as his mother seemed to do with her own husbands.

*~*~*~*~*~*

After Yule break found Harry with the busiest schedule that since he started school that year. On the weekends, he had Karate class in the mornings from eight to noon with Prue. He had potions, spells, and defence with Snape from one to four. That didn't count evening band practice, and any of the other classes he was now taking, and dates with Draco. Harry was beginning to wonder if he would even survive school, let alone defeat Voldemort. Luckily, the only Horcrux that they had left was Voldemort's snake, and Severus was slowly feeding the snake poison to kill her in time for the final battle.

With everything going according to plan, Harry felt a bit better, but since he had no idea when the final battle would be, he hoped that with everything he held dear that the snake would be dead by then. There had been whispers that the battle would be soon, but no one really knew except for Voldemort himself. Severus informed him that Voldemort was very upset that he couldn't find anyone close to Harry to capture and torture for his amusement.

When Harry heard that, he was more determined to learn more than ever. If the battle was coming soon and Voldemort was after his friends, then he needed to be able to put an end to him as soon as possible.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Severus stalked through Riddle House as if he owned the place, which made several of the lower ranked Death Eaters scatter out of his way. Tonight would be the final dosage for the snake. It would die peacefully in its sleep if all went according to plan. He would make his weekly report on Potter's activities, and give the snake its last dose and it would be dead. In its place, the potion and spell would create a living replica of the snake, with no Horcrux. Voldemort shouldn't notice the difference because the replica would act the same as the real snake. It was a very clever spell that he had come up with. Too bad, he hadn't decided to become a spell writer instead of a potions master; perhaps he would be rich by now.

After several bouts of the Crutiatus Curse for not having the valuable information that Voldemort sought, Severus breathed a sigh of relief as he was dismissed to go feed Nagini. It was odd that Voldemort had assigned him this duty on his weekends off from the school. It was the perfect opportunity to kill the snake. He was glad that the potion had a numbing effect that allowed the snake to fall asleep while the potion worked. While the snake was asleep, he would cast the needed spells to replicate the snake and pour a potion over the snake, which quickly absorbed into her body.

As he walked out of the room, he was glad to see the spell was a success. There was now a complete replica of the snake in the room, and its old remains quickly absorbed into the fake snake with no outward signs. Since Voldemort hadn't seemed to notice the other missing Horcruxes before now, it was surmised that he would not notice the one in his familiar was missing. Severus had tried to put the echo of his evil soul there, but he wasn't quite sure if that part succeeded. Hopefully, the Dark Lord wasn't able feel the snake's death. If so, he was in big trouble.

As he walked out of Riddle House, he wasn't attacked or stopped, so he hoped that he wasn't caught. However, he figured that any future calls from the Dark Lord should be ignored. No matter how good his Occlumency was, he was unsure if he could hide the glee of killing the snake from him.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Harry and Draco were sitting in the Room of Requirement, cuddling on the couch. It was a rare that they were able to spend time alone these days due to all the training and preparation for the war against Voldemort. Unfortunately, they only had ten more minutes of cuddling before they were both due at an extensive training session. Harry was learning how to combine spells to make them stronger, and do more than one thing. It was hard work, and Harry found the training extremely interesting.

If he could learn how to do simple spell combining well, Professor Snape promised him that he would let him start trying to use more intense curses and hexes. Harry found the classes much more interesting than his normal ones, which was saying a lot. Professor Snape seemed impressed that Harry had learned to combine two simple spells in two weeks, apparently, it normally took longer, but Severus had always said secretly that Harry had a lot of innate power at his disposal.

Sadly, the both of them couldn't figure out if this was because of the transfer of dark energy from Voldemort when he died, the prophecy, or if it was his own abilities caused by the prophecy. Harry often secretly wondered if he would be a Squib after defeating Voldemort. He never voiced the concern to anyone, but considering how many years of dark magic Voldemort had consumed, he may take Harry with him when he went, which Harry felt was a real possibility. He tried not to worry about it though; he didn't want his fears to become a reality.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Remus and Severus were sitting on the couch relaxing. Severus with a cup of Earl Gray tea, and Remus with a glass of Ogdon's old. It was just like Severus to drink tea when his companion was drinking something stronger, though to Severus's credit, he was sure he was going to be called tonight. Something in his bones twitched, it was almost like that feeling when someone has an injured leg and their leg aches when it's about to rain.

Severus had a theory that the more you were exposed to the Cruciatus Curse, the more susceptible you were to its effects. Luckily, Severus had created a potion to lessen the lingering effects, but he still felt the twinges close to the time he was going to be called.

"I don't like this feeling of yours, Sev. If it's correct and he has found out about the snake, or suspects you of being a spy, then you will be killed."

"Remus, I am always very careful when it comes to the Dark Lord. I didn't really even have to explain why I didn't inform him about the Weasley accident. If you recall, I had just popped over to Riddle House to feed his snake early so that I could assume my duties in Hogsmeade. Since I Apparated right from Hogsmeade, I had no idea that the Weasley boy had been hurt."

"I know, Sev. I just worry."

Severus said as he ignored the comment to continue speaking. "As for the snake, even one of those Muggle procedures where they cut open the animal and look inside wouldn't tell that the snake had been poisoned. If it is discovered, the fake will simply die like the real one did, and it will look like it died of old age. On the off chance that Nagini's personality didn't come through, it can be explained away, since the snake will soon start to get sick, and will soon die."

Remus nodded, and reached out his hand to grasp Severus' hand. "I hope that it is so, Severus. I don't want you to die."

Severus smiled slightly and squeezed Remus' hand. "Do not worry, Remus. I will be fine. This was the one last thing I had to do. I will not ever have to return to him. My job as a spy is finished."

Remus smiled slightly and pulled Severus close. "I am very happy that part of your life is over, Sev."

Severus' mouth quirked slightly and he hugged Remus in return. "As am I."

*~*~*~*~*~*

One night at band practice, Severus told the band he had written another song. The one's he had written before now were really great, and they were eager to learn the song. When Severus started singing, the group was still a little bit mesmerized by his voice, but they listened intently. It was called As I Am.

Gonna stay in bed today
Cause I can't stand the light
Don't know why I get so down
I won't be much fun tonight
And I can't believe
You still wanna hang around me

It's not so pretty all the time
You don't mind
To you it's all right

As I am
Is how you take me
Never try to push
Or make me different
When I talk, you listen to me

As I am
Is how you want me and
I know I've found the piece that's missing
I'm looking at him

I'm not the girl you think you see
But maybe that's a lie
You almost know me better than
Me, myself and I
Don't know a lot of things
But I know what I got

It's not so perfect everyday
I don't have to try
Cause it all falls into place

As I am
Is how you take me
Never try to push
Or make me different
When I talk you listen to me

As I am
Is how you want me and
I know I've found the piece that's missing
I'm looking at him

Face to face, eye to eye
You're standing there
Feels good on the inside
I don't mind, I don't care
You're standing there
Seeing me for the first time
Seeing me for the first time....

Harry had a feeling that this song was more personal than Severus let on, but he certainly didn't mention it. Just because they got along better now didn't mean that Severus didn't still have a legendary temper.

The song would definitely give the group a bit of diversity that they hadn't had before, which was always nice. The problem was, once the Professor decided that he wanted to leave the group and pursue his own musical career, they would be left trying to figure out how to replace the songs that he had already created. It was past time that Harry, Draco, and the rest of the band started creating some more songs.

*~*~*~*~*~*

In between all his training sessions, Harry was practicing for the upcoming concert for Professor Dumbledore. Even though Harry was angry with him quite often, he often forgot that the man was dying, and was actually an old man by regular human standards.

Professor Snape was still trying to find a potion or spell that would lift the curse on Dumbledore's blackened hand, but it was proving to be an enormous task especially since the ring had been destroyed with a Basilisk fang, and he didn't have the whole thing to study. When he informed the Dark Lord about Dumbledore's hand, laughing at the stupidity of the Headmaster, the Dark Lord had just laughed along with him, and told Severus that the old fool was stupider than he thought for personally handling that ring.

When the pair had finished laughing, Severus waited anxiously for some sort of clue on how it was done. Usually, the Dark Lord loved to boast on how he got one over on people, sometimes going into great detail on how it was done. Much to the disappointment of Severus and Dumbledore, the Dark Lord didn't tell Severus anything about how it was done. All the Dark Lord would say was that it served him right for handling something that wasn't his to handle. This hindered the curing process greatly. Severus had secretly told Harry that he had concluded that Dumbledore had already given up on a cure, which didn't encourage him to keep trying, but he did.

It took more than a dozen tries to make any progress on the potion to heal part of the damage to Professor Dumbledore's hand. Professor Snape mentioned that he had poured so many potions down Dumbledore's throat, he didn't even know which one would help, or if the combination of all of them would.

It was sad in a way, because being one of the top Potions Masters in the world, didn't mean a hill of beans if he couldn't cure the Head of the Light. Severus was at his wit's end trying to come up with a cure. If only he had been able to study the ring before it was destroyed, perhaps he would have been able to make a cure faster. As it was, it was a very slow process of research, planning, testing, and shear dumb luck.

Severus had even enlisted Hermione's assistance in the matter, hoping that one or the both of them might come up with a cure. Severus had acknowledged that since Hermione had the top grades in all her subjects, and loved to be in the library anyway, that she was the perfect choice to help. He gave her an unrestricted pass to the Restricted Section, and hoped she would be able to find something he hadn't.

Severus had even searched through the Black Library, and the Malfoy Library to see if he was able to find any information on Horcruxes and the Resurrection Stone. It wasn't surprising that the Malfoy and Black Library both had some information; however, there was nothing on how they were really created, or what really happens when a soul is imbedded into an animate object. He had even studied the books that Professor Dumbledore had removed when he became Headmaster, but even though they mentioned how to create a Horcrux, it didn't go into detail on what they really did to the objects.

Professor Dumbledore told him all he knew about the objects, but between the three of them, they couldn't figure out what to do about the curse.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Author Notes:The Climb and As I am are by Hannah Montana aka Miley Cyrus ©2009 by the Disney Corporation. I love these songs, and once I heard them, I knew that it would be the perfect songs for Severus.