Feeling Snape's dark presence behind him (lurking near the stairs, out of sight), Harry walked boldly up to the Fat Lady, and said, "Caput Draconis."
"And where have you been so late?" She chided, before opening up.
Harry deftly dodged inward (the portrait closing again).
Hermione looked up from her book, "Harry!" she cried, dropping her book in her haste to reach him.
About halfway there, she paused - eyes wide with shock, though Ron got the first word in, "Hey, mate, what happened to you?"
Harry sighed, "It's been a loong day."
Hermione approached at a cautious walk, no longer running toward him. Her eyes were wide. "Harry, have you seen yourself?"
He hadn't. He'd been... feeling again. Harry wordlessly shook his head, "Erm... no?"
Ron said, "Leaving aside the question of where your clothes got off to, you probably ought to look, mate!" Ron laughed, but Ron never took things seriously unless he had to.
Harry did, looking from his feet upward - his entire body was red, like he'd been sunburned. His palms, everything - Harry realized with a start that his bits would be red too. "Maybe I'd better go get a shower, before you touch me, Hermione." He blushed. The itching had started up again (much less painfully) now that he'd noticed.
Hermione had her hands on her hips, "Fine, as far as that goes. But what the hell happened?!"
Harry just shrugged.
Hermione glared back, her impatience nearly overwhelming her fury. If I keep quiet, she'll shake the answers out of me.
Ron simply chuckled, "Rough detention, mate?"
Harry looked at Ron like he'd been thrown a life-preserver, "Yeah!" Harry shot his friend a warm smile, then he turned back to Hermione, "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Try me," Hermione said.
"After my shower?" Harry said hopefully, "Maybe tomorrow? I'm dead on my feet, Hermione..."
Hermione nodded, "Okay, if you'll tell me exactly what happened."
A shower turned out to be just what Harry needed.
Harry made his way up to his room, and then did a doubletake. There was a jar of ointment on his dresser. Harry picked it up, and noticed a note underneath - in McGonagall's flawless handwriting. It said, For your skin. Not that McGonagall would know about Snape's detention, not this quickly... No, Snape had undoubtedly snuck through at some point, and didn't want to be falsely accused of compassion for a Gryffindor. So he'd simply forged the note, as it was easier. Harry gulped. He'd need to thank Snape for this.
That, as well as Hermione, would wait until the morning.
Harry Potter climbed into bed, and pulled the curtains. The ointment burned, too, but it didn't itch, which was good, as Harry wasn't sure he could have stood itching the entire night long.
[a/n: It's a punishment. It's not supposed to be permanent. Acid was burning through Harry's skin, as it had already dissolved his clothes.
Leave a review?]