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Harry Potter and The Plane of Shadows by Perseias

Format: Novel
Chapters: 35
Word Count: 162,747
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: General, Action/Adventure, AU
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Sirius, OC
Pairings: Harry/Hermione

First Published: 06/08/2005
Last Chapter: 08/07/2009
Last Updated: 08/07/2009

Summary:










In his 6th yr, Harry learns about his MageAbility along with a new trnsfr studnt from Beauxbatons. His dreams about Sirius lead him to the mystery behind the veil and embark on a journey through magical and mythical places to bring him home. New relationships will develop, and a mysterious new Prof. with a secret identiy will reveal what Harry has wanted most. 6th yr A/U  **CHAPTER 35 is up!** OVER 30K reads. Thanks!


Chapter 1: A Faceless Stranger
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Chapter 1

A Faceless Stranger

Donovan stood under the shadows, hiding on the flat rooftop of a building. He had a pair of muggle binoculars with him and he held them to his face as he scanned the students heading to the train which would soon be leaving Hogsmeade Station back to King’s Cross. That’s him, he thought as he watched a boy of 15, almost 16, with raven dark hair and round glasses levitating a trunk with an owl cage on top of it as he neared the train. I just have to follow him after he gets off the train until he’s back in the care of his aunt. Donovan thought as he pulled out a camera, and focussed it on Harry and his friends, Hermione and Ron. He snapped pictures of them every few seconds until they had boarded onto the train.

“OI! Up there!” Someone shouted from nearby, and down below on the street.

“Shit,” Donovan muttered under his breath as he jumped from his hiding spot and ran towards the wall of the small shack building on the flat roof top. Seconds later, two wizards levitated from the street below and landed on the roof.

“Petrificus Totalus!” One of them shouted and sent the spell towards Donovan. “What the bloody hell…?” Jane muttered as she saw the hooded figure running straight for the brick wall.

Donovan jumped, diving head first into the wall, the spell just catching him as he disappeared through the bricks in a manner similar to the way people passed through the barrier of platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross.

Jane and the other auror, Patrick, were running after him but tried to slow down when they saw the second spell that Jane had cast rebound back from the brick wall, which had apparently become solid once more. It was too late; they both still smacked against the wall and bounced back to the roof top.

“Bloody hell,” Patrick cursed as he got up, rubbing his sore spots from his collision with the wall and he offered a hand to Jane. “Who was that? And how did he do that?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Jane replied as Patrick patted the bricks and prodded them with his wand. He tried several spells at the wall but to no avail.

“He was obviously watching the children board onto the train. Do you think he was a Death Eater?” Patrick asked, turning to Jane.

“I don’t think so,” She replied pointing to a black duffel bag the man had obviously forgotten in his haste to escape, “these are muggle things and I don’t think Death Eaters would be found with them.” She began to rummage through the items in the bag. “We should take these to Arthur Weasley, he might know more of what they are and we need to get hold of Dumbledore and report this. I think you’re right, that bloke was spying on the students.”

“I reckon he was spying on Harry,” Patrick said as he pointed to a cut-out of Harry’s picture from an article of an old edition of The Prophet. Jane frowned at this. This couldn’t be good news. She turned to see the train disappearing in the distance. “We better go,” She gathered the bag together and the two of them apparated to Grimmauld Place, the headquarters for the Order.

Donovan landed like a stiff board onto the carpet of the small office in his apartment. He landed so hard that he was knocked unconscious.

“Shit!” He cursed in his mind once he regained consciousness hours later. He struggled to free himself from the binding spell. He was angry that he had let his guard down. It had been a close call, and he was cursing himself for his stupidity. From the way he landed he had a clear view of the clock. He cursed again when he noticed the time. The train would be arriving at King’s Cross station very soon and he lay motionless on the floor, his eyes the only thing that could move. The spell put on him was strong, and he focussed all of his energy on the counterspell he needed. The unfortunate thing was that what he needed to do required that he utter the words. After a few minutes of struggling he was able to move his lips just enough to whisper. “Finite Incantatem,” he muttered and breathed heavily as the bind came off completely. He scrambled to his feet and looked around.

“Damn it!” He yelled, once he realised his bag was gone. He still had his camera around his neck and was glad to see it unharmed. He placed it on the desk that he had in the room. He would develop those pictures later. He quickly pulled out a piece of chalk from his robes and drew a rectangle on the wall. He drew a circle in the place where a knob should be, making the rough sketch look like a door on the wall. He removed his black robes and straightened out his muggle clothing before strapping his gun holsters onto himself, placing one gun on either side of him. He placed one wand in a special holster directly underneath one of his guns. He picked up a jacket and put it on, completely hiding the guns from view. Donovan turned around to the sketch on the wall.

“Male toilets, King’s Cross.” He called aloud. The chalk lines glowed a bright green and a door appeared on the wall. He opened it and passed through before closing it behind him. To the people on the other side it looked as if he had come out of the toilets.

He looked around the platform area and noticed students and their families coming through the barrier. He saw a group that was having a conversation not far off. A whole bunch of them had the flaming redheads of the Weasleys. Donovan knew that the youngest boy with red hair was Ron Weasley, friend of his target, Harry Potter.

He walked closer to the group, hoping to see if Harry was with them. He remained inconspicuous and out of view as he moved nearer until he could now hear part of their conversation.

“…think Moody’s warning will change anything?” Ron asked Hermione. Donovan scanned the group but couldn’t see Harry.

“I do hope so, but at least we’ll be getting news from him more often this summer. Oh, looks like Mum and Dad are ready to go. Send me an owl if you hear from Harry or anything, OK?” Hermione asked. Ron nodded and they said goodbye, and Hermione followed after her parents. Donovan still scanned the crowd but Harry’s name caught his attention.

“Since Harry has left already, there’s no reason for us to stay here any longer,” Tonks commented to Remus, but he shook his head.

“You know what Dumbledore said about what happened in Hogsmeade today. He’s sure that man was going to attempt to find Harry here. We need to make sure he’s not around. Have you seen anyone who looks like him?” Remus said, scanning the crowd again.

Donovan stayed hidden from view, but was still able to catch their conversation.

“No, I checked all of 9 ¾ and I didn’t see anyone who looks like him,” she replied and held up a copy of the photo from the man’s passport that he had left in the bag back at Hogsmeade.

Shit Donovan thought yet again when he took a look at the pair and noticed his passport. It seemed that was all he’d been doing all day: cursing his stupidity. He knew he should better get out of there if those people were looking for him and Harry had already left. He was too late! He would have to figure a different way to get what he wanted. Donovan quickly left the area, trying not to be noticed.

He walked, dodging his way through the crowded station when he realised he was being followed. His quick observation told him that there were six of them walking along behind him in the crowd, trying to reach him. He quickened his pace, just barely; still pretending that he hadn’t noticed their presence. They were getting closer. As he neared the doors, Donovan made a dash for the exit. At once, five aurors, and Remus, were running after him.

“Where did he go?” Tonks called, being the first one to reach outside and Remus was close behind.

“There!” He cried as he spied the man disappearing along the corner into an alley. They ran after him and entered the dead-end alley, instantly pulling out their wands. The others were coming behind them.

“He’s gone!” Tonks said after scanning the whole alley and not finding any sign of him. She kicked a rubbish bin in frustration, and upset its contents.

“Look at this,” said Remus, picking up something that had fallen on the ground. It appeared to be the man’s face. “I think it’s a mask of some sort,” he added and pointed to a wig that was still inside the bin. Everyone else crowded around the silicone face.

“So this means that he mustn’t look like this picture then? That’s very clever, but now he could be anyone!” Tonks fumed, mad that the guy had escaped yet again.

“What I’d like to know is how he got away,” Lupin commented as he shrunk the items and put them in his robes, maybe Arthur would know about them. “And how can he turn walls into portals, or something like them? I’ve never heard of such a thing!”

“I don’t know, but we better go. We should inform Dumbledore about this too.”

Chapter 2: Tables Turn
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Chapter 2
Tables Turn


The summer holidays had just started and this year it was worse than ever for Harry. Another year at Hogwarts had gone by and once more he was back at Number 4 Privet Drive to live with his aunt and uncle. He had returned home the night before and so far no one had so much as spoken a word to him, and Harry noticed that no one had spoken a word with each other either. Something was going on but before Harry had been able to do or say anything, he had been ordered to go his room and stay there. He was glad for the food he had bought on the train so he didn’t bother to go down for dinner; he doubted they would have given him any food at any rate.

Harry despised living with the Dursley’s but he had no choice; this was where he was safest from the grip of Voldemort as his mother’s blood through his aunt reinforced the ancient protection spell cast onto Harry when his mother sacrificed her life to save his.

But this year Harry felt more alone than ever. It seemed unreal that only two years ago he had discovered that he had a godfather and Sirius had become a father figure to him in no time. But Sirius was dead now, and no matter what everyone told him, Harry felt that it was his fault. He couldn’t let go of the guilt racking his soul, and he was utterly miserable because of it.

Harry lay in bed staring at the ceiling of his small, cramped bedroom, not bothering with the hot tears that rolled down his cheeks. He lived with the constant nightmare of watching his godfather fall through the veil at the Ministry’s Department of Mysteries, intermixed with the ghostly faces of his parents, and Cedric. If he had only listened to Hermione; if only he had gone to Dumbledore! Harry pounded his fists against his bed. He felt like he wanted to scream… there was nothing for him anymore. He was sick of being the-boy-who-lived. And to make matters worse, he alone was the only one who could overcome Voldemort once and for all… he was a marked man, and he realised before school ended that sooner or later his final showdown with Voldemort would come.

Harry was snapped out of his thoughts by a ball of feathers the size of a tennis ball zooming around his bedroom, after having squeezed through the open window. Pig, the hyperactive owl belonging to Ron, was whizzing around in apparent ecstasy at having successfully reached his destination. Harry made no move to intercept the tiny owl, which had a rather large envelope dangling from one of his legs. He wasn’t in the mood to read any of the letters that had been sent to him by his friends.

Pigwidgeon finally realised that Harry wasn’t paying him any attention, and he finally lowered himself and perched on the railing of Harry’s bed. Harry raised an eyebrow, surprised to see Pig so calm and not fluttering around like a maniac. The tiny pygmy owl was glaring at Harry.

“Oh, alright.” Harry mumbled and wiped away the tears from his cheeks. He reached over to grab the owl, but now Pig, excited about delivering his letter, began zooming around the room once more. He banged against Hedwig’s cage and she let out an indignant hoot whilst she ruffled her feathers. Harry snatched the stunned owl out of the air, and couldn’t help the smile that crept along his face.

“Gotcha.” He said and began relieving the owl of his burden. “There, now you can go.” He mumbled as he tossed the letter aside. He didn’t want to see what it said, as he was sure it would be some cryptic message that said they couldn’t tell him what was going on, or to offer their sympathy for the situation they didn’t know anything about. But the tiny owl just screeched and hooted as he flew around.

“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT RACKET?!” Vernon’s voice sounded on the other side of the door as he pounded his fist on it.
Harry jumped to grab Pigwidgeon and quickly placed him behind his back and clamped his hand over his beak, just as his uncle opened the door.

“Sorry Uncle Vernon, I accidentally tripped and scared Hedwig.” He said apologetically.

“WELL KEEP THAT DAMNED OWL QUIET!” He bellowed, his face turning purple. “AND COME DOWN FOR BREAKFAST!” He yelled, then as if he remembered who he was talking to and the threats from Moody just one day ago, he visibly tried to calm down, “I have to talk to you.” Vernon said in a calmer tone… which surprised Harry.

“I’ll be down after I make my bed” Harry replied hoping his uncle didn’t want him to follow him right now. Vernon didn’t reply and simply slammed the door shut.

“Are you trying to get me in trouble?” Harry asked the furious owl who was pecking at his fingers to let him go.

“I bet Ron put you up to waiting for a reply?” Harry said to the tiny thing who seemed to agree with him, “Alright, only if you stay quiet or I’ll send the reply with Hedwig.” Harry threatened. He let go of the miniature owl and Pig fluttered over to Hedwig’s cage to drink some water, irritated at the threat, but not risking that Harry would go through with it.

Harry picked up a piece of paper (he had forgotten to bring extra parchment) and scribbled hurriedly.

Ron,

No time to write, but got your message. All ok here. Tell the Order.
Harry


Harry folded the note and tied it to Pig’s leg as he tried to keep him still. He watched as the tiny bird zoomed out his window. Harry didn’t even bother to make his bed as he had said, and simply left his room, heading downstairs.

His Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and his cousin, Dudley, were sitting at the table already having breakfast when he arrived, which was odd, since they always made Harry make breakfast and wait for the leftover scraps to eat himself. Dudley seemed to be furious about something, and that seemed to cheer up Harry a bit. Harry was surprised to see a place set for him to join the family. His aunt and uncle had taken Moody’s threats seriously and he supposed that this was one of the things that had changed.

He sat down to the table and began serving himself some food, while the other three in the room completely ignored him. He was used to the silent treatment and he rather liked that they had left him alone like the day before.

Vernon was hidden behind that morning’s paper, and no one spoke. After a while, he handed Harry a section of the paper.

“What’s this?” Harry asked confused and unable to hold his curiosity.

“Since you are now 15 years old and almost 16, it’s about time you got a job,” Vernon said through clenched teeth, obviously trying to control his temper. “That’s the jobs section. It’s time you started pulling your weight around here, you are not cheap to keep and if I am forced to have you live here then you will start paying rent, and if you want to eat, you will have to buy your own food.” He snapped and Harry had to control his tongue before he could say something he’d regret. He could see that his uncle was barely holding onto being civil. Ha, not cheap…? Well they certainly don’t bother to buy much for me, Harry thought. Although Aunt Petunia had actually gone to the second hand store and bought him some outfits that actually fitted him. He also kept his mouth shut because it would be a good way for him to be out of the house although Harry had no idea as to how he was going to get a job; he didn’t have any experience in anything, besides housekeeping or gardening.

“Why do I have to get a job?!” Dudley screeched.

Harry looked up surprised. So that’s why he’s so mad, Harry thought. Still, he would have never thought that his parents would make him do such a thing. Harry turned his gaze to his uncle and what surprised him more was to see that for once his anger was not directed at him, but at Dudley.

“Because you eat like a pig, and I cannot afford to keep feeding you, you ungrateful...”

“Vernon!” Aunt Petunia screamed, horrified “How can you say those things about Dudleykins, your son!” She seemed on the verge of tears.

Harry shrank down in his seat, hoping to remain unnoticed; he was sure this would all turn out to be his fault somehow. He wanted to ask what was going on, but he didn’t dare speak.

“MY SON!? NO SON OF MINE GETS EXPELLED FROM SCHOOL!” Vernon replied, turning an even deeper shade of purple, “AND I AM NOT GOING TO SUPPORT HIM WHILE HE LOAFS AROUND THE HOUSE! AND NEXT YEAR HE CAN GO TO STONEWALL!” Vernon yelled slamming his fist onto the table, spilling several cups of coffee. He stood up and left the kitchen.

Harry sat dumbfounded at the table. Dudley had been expelled? Under any other circumstances, Harry would be jumping with glee, but right now was not the appropriate time to celebrate. Dudley was throwing one of his horrible tantrums and Petunia sat in her chair stunned. Harry didn’t know what was going through her mind. He wanted to leave, but he was afraid that if he moved she would realise he was still there and this would turn out to be his fault.
She then turned to Dudley, and pretended as if nothing had happened.

“Dudley, you want more bacon? Eggs?” She asked putting more food onto his plate.

Dudley did something Harry would have never thought him capable of doing: waste food. He grabbed the plate and picked it up before smashing it on the wall. What was going on!? No one was acting normally around there, and even weirder was that no one had given him any hell as of yet. His thoughts were interrupted as Petunia squeaked surprised.

“I AM NOT GETTING A JOB! IT WASN’T MY FAULT I WAS EXPELLED!” Dudley screamed at his mother.

Petunia a little nervously tried to coax him “Y-Your father will calm down, just humour him for a few days, get a job and…” SMACK!

“I’M NOT GETTING A JOB!”

Harry jumped from his chair when Dudley’s hand landed on his aunt’s cheek. His Aunt had fallen from his chair both from the impact and also from the shock that her little boy had just hit her! Dudley was in a rage and seemed to be ready to go after his mother again. Petunia cowered in fear, watching in horror as he came after her. But before he had a chance, and before Harry could think twice about what he was doing, Harry jumped at Dudley and grabbing his hand, pushed him out of the way.

“GET OFF ME!” Dudley yelled still quite enraged, and tried to punch him, but Harry, using his quick reflexes from years of Quidditch, managed to twist his arm around his back. Using all of the strength he could muster, he pulled his arm making Dudley scream in pain. Harry didn’t know why Dudley hitting his aunt would cause him to react in the way he did, but even though it was true that he detested being in their care, and the way they had treated him, she was the only family he had. He really didn’t consider Vernon or Dudley as his family.

“You leave my aunt alone!” Harry screamed at him and by then Vernon had made it back into the kitchen.

Vernon surveyed the scene in front of him and ran to his wife, who was still on the floor staring wide eyed at Harry, and helped her to her feet. He noticed the red mark on her cheek.

“WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY WIFE? I’LL KILL YOU!!!” Vernon screamed and was about to leap on Harry.

“NO! Vernon, it was Dudley! Harry attacked him to keep him from me!” Petunia screamed grabbing Vernon. Harry couldn’t believe his aunt had jumped to his defence. She had always stood on the sidelines and had never helped him, even when she knew Dudley was at fault.

Vernon stopped in his tracks, and stared at Petunia, then at Harry, then at Dudley, then back to Petunia. He obviously didn’t know what to think, but not for long. His face, which had become pale at Petunia’s words, now turned a shade of rage which was a rare deep purplish colour. He advanced towards Harry and Harry flinched, ready for a blow, but it never came.

Instead, Uncle Vernon had grabbed Dudley by the collar, and lifted him off the ground, holding him 2 inches above the floor. Harry had seen Vernon infuriated more times than he could remember, but never like this. And to see him lift his fat cousin so easily gave him a sense of fear he never thought was possible. Harry stared, no, gawked, at his uncle and noticed Dudley was cowering with fear in his grip. He too had never seen his father so furious.

Uncle Vernon spoke with a tone that gave everyone in the room a sense of dread, and made their hair stand on their necks. “YOU. WILL. NEVER. TOUCH. YOUR. MOTHER. AGAIN!” Vernon growled menacingly through clenched teeth. “AND YOU WILL DO AS I SAY AS LONG AS YOU WANT TO LIVE IN MY HOUSE! DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?!” Vernon spat and then dropped Dudley to the floor.

Dudley swallowed and nodded, too horrified to speak. “NOW GO GET A JOB AND DON’T COME BACK WITHOUT ONE!” He barked and Dudley jumped leaving the room. “YOU TOO!” He barked at Harry and Harry didn’t wait another second and left the kitchen. Harry ran up to his room and shut the door.


Chapter 3: Kisses Unexpected
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CHAPTER 3: Kisses Unexpected

Harry changed his clothes to the most decent things he had, pocketed his wand, and took out a small roll of money that he had from all of those times he worked for Mrs Figg during the last few summers. It would be enough for him to buy some food to eat, and for any bus tickets he might need. He went back to the kitchen and saw his uncle comforting his aunt. Harry silently picked up the copy of the paper with the job listings on it and headed out of the house. He went to the park and sat down on one of the benches, flipping through the sections as he did so until he found a few descriptions of jobs that seemed to suit him well. Harry was now wondering how in the bloody hell he was going to get to a job. He stopped by one of the shops and bought a map of the city. He marked down the locations of the jobs from their advertisements and began his search.

Later that day, Harry looked at his watch and frowned. It was 4 pm and he sighed as he scratched off the last ad on his paper. He had applied for several positions and had been immediately turned down at some and filled applications for the others. He hoped that they would call him, but somehow he felt that they wouldn’t.

“I suppose I should best be getting home and I’ll try again tomorrow,” He began walking down the street and when he rounded a corner he passed in front of a construction site. The crew was just beginning to break ground, and Harry noticed the large sign by the entrance.

Help wanted. No experience necessary.

“Well, I don’t have any experience, so that should work well.” He muttered to himself and crossed the street, heading towards one of the workers as he did so. The man working on the site was tall and muscular, and he was wearing an old pair of jeans and white sleeveless t-shirt with a pair of sturdy steel-toed boots. A blue hard hat was on his head. His skin was dark from working under the sun since the construction season had picked up in the spring. He was holding a plan of the grounds, studying it.

“Excuse me, where can I inquire about a job?” Harry asked the man who turned to observe him.

“Right here.” The man replied, “I’m Larry, and you are?” He said extending his hand.

“Harry, Harry Potter, sir.” Harry replied shaking his hand. Harry was so glad that this was not a wizard in disguise, or if he was, he was good at keeping his surprise. No matter how old or young a wizard Harry met, they always had a reaction to his name.

“Well, do you have any experience in construction Harry?” He asked.

“Erm, no sir.” Harry replied and bit his lip.

“How old are you?” Larry asked noticing that Harry was a teenager.

“I’ll be 16 in a couple of weeks.” Harry replied worried that his age would be too young.

Larry laughed at Harry’s concern. “15, 16 – old enough for me. That’s not a problem. We do need people, so tell you what, I’ll give you a week’s probation and we’ll see at the end of the week how you fare. Deal?” Larry asked in an easy going manner.

“Erm, yeah. That sounds great,” Harry said with a huge smile. “Is there something I need to do right away?” Harry asked feeling glad that he had found a job, and he knew that he would work hard and maybe Larry would let him stay.

“Just go inside that office there and tell Lucy you are there to fill out a job application and paperwork. Oh, and tell her you will need a hard hat and a pair of boots.” Larry said and sent Harry on his way.

A while later Harry walked out of the office feeling quite contented. He had a job! Then it struck him that he didn’t even know how much he was going to get paid. He flipped through the pages in front of him and stopped at a copy of his contract that he had signed.

“Wow!” He whispered when he saw the amount of his wages “£5 times 9 hrs a day…” Harry couldn’t believe it! That was a lot of money for a 15 year old.

“Harry!”

Harry looked up to see Larry striding over to him. “Lucy got you all sorted out?”

“Yep.” Harry replied.

“Good, let me give you a quick tour and introduce you to the crew.” Larry said motioning for Harry to follow. “You need your hat on at all times when you are here. It’s for your safety… and my arse.” He smiled.

After the introductions were over, the grounds were toured, and Larry told Harry what some of his jobs might be, he said farewell to him, and Harry headed home. He left the hard hat at work, where the workers had some lockers to place personal items, but the new steel-toed boots he took home. They were his after paying the company’s sponsored discounted price which would be deducted from his first week’s cheque.

It was 6:30 by the time Harry got home, and he entered cautiously through the back door around the kitchen. He noticed his Aunt Petunia was finishing dinner and he closed the door. Petunia turned around to look at Harry but didn’t say anything. Harry could see her face had discoloured where Dudley had hit her, but he chose not to comment. He had seen something in the way she looked at him, but he found himself unable to decipher what it was as he walked through the room to the other door, intending to leave for his room.

“Dinner will be ready in half an hour.” Petunia said to him before he left.

“Err, thanks.” Harry replied not knowing what else to say, and headed to his room.
He was confused by her actions. She rarely spoke to him unless it was to belittle him or yell at him for not doing some chores. He had expected her to scream at him to get to cooking dinner now that he was home, but she hadn’t.

As he walked up the stairs, he met his uncle coming down. Vernon glared at him, and they stood glaring at each other for a moment. Vernon noticed the papers and the box of boots in Harry’s hands, and before he could say something Harry beat him to it.

“I got a job.” Harry spoke quickly. Vernon looked surprised for a second, but he masked it quickly.

“Cleaning toilets I hope.” Vernon glared.

“If you care to know, no, I am not going to clean toilets, I actually have a job at a construction site.” Harry said and fled up the stairs, anger welling inside him.

“GOOD!” Vernon yelled after him “Maybe some hard honest work will finally knock some sense into you!” He shouted to the top of the stairs and Harry slammed the door to his room. “AND BE SURE TO HAVE RENT TO ME BY THE END OF THE MONTH!” He bellowed and stormed to the living room.

****


Harry lay exhausted in his bed. Today it was Saturday, July 20th, and he had been at his job for four weeks now. He had worked a 12 hour shift today and he felt dead. But the money was well worth it. He would be getting paid time and a half for today’s work, and that alone would be enough to finish the first month’s rent. Harry stood up and headed to the bathroom to clean up. Chaffy, one of the guys from work was going to pick him up this evening as they were going to someone’s house for a birthday party. Chaffy was two years older than Harry but he had dropped out of school last year and had been working with Larry’s crew ever since. Several people from work were going to be there, as well as other people who hung out with Chaffy and Harry had at first declined, but he had eventually given in. He wanted nothing more than to sleep, but he thought that maybe a night out was in order. He had been paid yesterday for last week’s work, and he felt he deserved it. Besides, he had hung out a few times with Chaffy and his friends, and they seemed alright. One of them reminded him of Ron, minus the red hair. He had to admit that he’d had a great time with them last time.

Before he left the room, Harry heard a rapping on his window. He went over to it and an owl was waiting with a letter. He took the envelope from the beautiful short-eared owl he didn’t know, and offered it some water and a piece of dried bread that Hedwig hadn’t finished. The owl nipped his fingers in appreciation, and then left through the now open window.

Harry!

How do you like my new owl! Her name is Dievieta. I know, weird name, but I think it means Goddess in Latvian or something like that. My parents got her for me when we came back from Russia last week, they said they’re certain I did well on my OWLs and they wanted to give her to me before we left on our trip to Greece. I think that they just don’t want to have to see Pig here so often; he’s broken a few of my mum’s things and she’s not particularly happy about it.
I’m also going to go Bulgaria to see Viktor, you can imagine what Ron had to say about that! What a git! Anyway, I got your letter, and I am so happy that things seem to be going alright for once. When I get back, I’ll stop to visit you at work again. It was such a sight to see you with a hard hat. Ha! Take care, and I’ll send you a post card from Athens!

Hermione


Harry smiled after he read the letter, but still his stomach churned. He had forgotten about his OWLs. He wondered when he would be receiving them, but decided not to worry about those tonight. He placed the letter in the trunk where he kept his private things. Half an hour later Harry sat in the driveway waiting for Chaffy to show up. He saw a pair of headlights coming down the street, and he jumped to his feet.

“Hop in.” Chaffy said and Harry jumped into the front seat. “We’re going to stop by Becca’s house first.” Chaffy said as he changed gear. Becca was a girl that Chaffy had a crush on, but hadn’t told yet. She worked at the little café across the street from where Harry and Chaffy worked.

“So, who’s going to be there?” Harry asked as he put his seatbelt on. He never felt quite secure with the way Chaffy drove; it sort of reminded him of being on the Knight bus, but in this case the cars would not magically jump out of the way.

“The whole gang I presume, you’ll get to meet everyone finally. We’re going to meet at Nancy’s house. You’ll get to meet the other girls too – Nancy’s roommates. Quite hot ones and two of ‘em are single. One of them is some pretty hot girl that moved from Central America a few months ago.” Chaffy said wiggling his eyebrows up and down at Harry. Harry only laughed.

Harry, Chaffy and Becca arrived at the party, and Chaffy introduced him to the people Harry hadn’t met already.

“Here.” Someone shouted at Harry and he caught the bottle of beer. He wasn’t sure he wanted to drink this stuff again, but he opened the bottle and took a swig. He pulled a face, but it wasn’t as bad as last time.

Several hours (and beers) later, Harry and the remaining people staggered about dancing to the music, and laughing at some of the stupid things the guys were doing. Harry felt so free, with nothing in the world to worry him.

“I need to use the loo.” Harry drawled as he staggered about towards the bathroom. He walked down the hallway of the flat towards the end of the corridor, found the toilet, then was walking back, when a door opened and someone grabbed him, pulling him into the room and pushed him onto a bed. In a flash, Harry found someone pressing her lips onto his, and he was quite surprised.

Veronica, the girl whom Chaffy had said was single and from Central America, had been hanging out with Harry most of the night. He had had a great time with her, and had even kissed her one time (through her insistence) but he hadn’t refused. He had been rather nervous at first, but either Veronica didn’t notice or didn’t care. He remembered his kiss with Cho the previous year, and had felt rather clumsy for the lack of experience. But Veronica only giggled at him, and teased him with one more kiss. The fact that Harry was intoxicated also helped his bravery; otherwise he would not have normally been this carefree. Veronica had left the living room a while ago saying that she was tired and was off to bed. Harry, of course had said goodnight, disappointed, but stayed behind with the guys.

“I knew you would come.” She said as she kissed him again.

“Huh? Erm…” Harry had no idea what she was talking about, but she kissed him again and then he felt her hands slip under his shirt. This was a completely new experience for Harry, and it didn’t help matters that the room was spinning about and he couldn’t really tell what was going on. Somewhere in his inebriated mind he thought that he better stop whatever it was that was going on or soon would be, but his body responded to her touch. He felt her hands slip down the length of his stomach, and that was the last thing he remembered.


Chapter 4: In Bed, A Stranger
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Chapter 4

In Bed, A Stranger


“Ow" Harry groaned as he opened his eyes to the bright Sunday morning light that was streaming into the room through the open windows. He sat up, closed his eyes and then held his head in his hands as he saw the room spin a little. He was surprised his head was not pounding like the previous weekend. I am never drinking Muggle beer again! Harry opened his eyes again and looked about the unfamiliar room. He reached for his glasses, and felt for them on the cupboard but they weren’t there. He squinted and could make the outline of them lying on the pillow to his left. He picked up his glasses and put them on, then his eyes widened when his gaze fell on his clothes strewn about the floor.

Just then he realised that he was lying in a bed just about naked, his pair of boxers and his socks the only thing left on him. Harry jumped as he felt the warmth of a leg against his, and it felt as if it burned his skin. He was wrapped in the sheets, and he fell to the floor with a thud, pulling the sheets off the girl sleeping on the bed. He sat up and Harry gulped as he took in her body. He recognized her as Veronica, and he barely had a foggy memory of kissing with her last night, and someone pulling him from the hallway into a bedroom. She was lying on her stomach, her long silky dark brown hair spilled about her pillow covering her face, but Harry had a perfect view of her derriere. She was wearing a cute little pair of pink knickers with the words ‘sexy’ written across it.

“Ooof, mi cabeza. Que paso?” She asked groggily and looked at the clock. It said 6:30 am. She turned around and sat up. Harry goggled at her, unable to speak, and now her perky breasts were in full view as she was not wearing a shirt or a bra. She rubbed her eyes and her gaze fell on Harry. She screamed completely startled and jumped grabbing for anything within her reach, and pulled a pillow in front of her to cover her nakedness. Her face felt hot as she stared at the boy in a tangle of sheets on the floor. She couldn’t see that he still had his boxers on and to her he looked to be naked underneath the sheets. Veronica began to mumble incoherently in panicky Spanish. Harry was too stunned to react. She had startled him by her scream, plus he was in a shocked state of waking up without recollection of the night before, and apparently she didn’t remember either. Veronica still mumbled to herself but she seemed to be calming down. She breathed a sigh of relief, and she shyly turned to Harry.

“Ahm, could you turn around?” She asked embarrassed and her face turned red again.

“What? Oh, yeah…” Harry sputtered and turned around, making sure he grabbed the sheets. Veronica reached for a t-shirt and slipped it over her head. Harry was still unsure of what to do; the sight of her breasts had left him paralyzed and unable to speak.

She smiled at his back and shook her head. “Good morning.” She purred as she crawled from the bed, and knelt next to him on the floor. Harry couldn’t move.

“You were great last night.” She whispered as she gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“I was?” Harry choked. He didn’t remember doing anything!

She pulled back, and began laughing a hearty laugh. She noticed him blush deeply. She blushed even harder too. “You don’t remember, do you?” She asked amused, with her peculiar Latin-American accent.

“Erm, not really.”

She stood up. “I was joking. Nothing happened.”

Harry turned around to face her. His heart pounded in his chest. He had no idea what to do. “Erm, are you sure?” He asked feeling very awkward to be waking up with a girl he just met the night before with whom he might have done something, like have sex, for example.

“Very sure. I think we were lucky. You had too much to drink and you fell asleep just in time.” She said and blushed. “I guess I am glad nothing happened. I don’t drink and last night I drank too much, and… well… I think I got too brave…” She said, obviously relieved.

“Right.” Harry said agreeing. He wasn’t quite sure what else to say, but he felt very relieved for some reason. Veronica moved and sat on the bed with her legs folded underneath her. There was an uncomfortable silence and Harry spotted his pants and stood up walking towards them. He looked at her pointedly and she blushed.

“Oh, right.” She said as she turned her face, and couldn’t help but giggle at the situation. Harry dropped the sheet, pulled his pants up, and then picked up his shirt.

“Can I turn back?” Veronica asked tentatively.

“Yeah, I’m decent.” He said, looking around for his shoes.

He turned around and saw her fiddling with her nails, but she was casting furtive glances at him.

“I… I had a great time last night, you know… downstairs.” She said hesitantly.

“Me too.” Harry answered, his hand reaching to his messy hair. Harry looked over at her, and then mustered his courage. “Vero (pronounced Vetto), I am sorry I… about last night… I mean… Erm… I just … you… last night… we just met, uhm well…”

Veronica cut him off. “Harry, it’s ok. I think it was my fault. I never drink more than one beer, but last night I… well I overdid it last night. I’ve never done anything like that before and… you are very good looking and so easy to talk to.” She said blushing.

Now Harry blushed “I’ve never done anything like that before either.” Harry confessed, and sat down next to her, suddenly feeling more comfortable for some reason.

They both began to chat as amiably as last night, all awkwardness forgotten for the moment.

“We better go down and get some breakfast.” She said and stood up.

“I’ll wait for you downstairs.” Harry said and pulled his shoes on, and left the room.

“’Bout time you got up,” Chaffy said as he ate. “So… you slept well last night?” He asked and again lifted his eyebrows up and down.

“Yeah.” Harry said and blushed. He was sure of what Chaffy was implying.

“So? How was it?” Chaffy asked directly at him “Ow!” He said as Becca whacked his head. “What the bloody hell was that for?” He asked glaring at her.

“What kind of question is that?” She said although she too seemed to think that something had happened.

“Nothing happened!” Vero exclaimed now entering the room in a very comfortable t-shirt and shorts.

“Really?” Chaffy said almost disappointed.

“What about you two?” Vero asked pointedly. Becca and Vero were very close friends and it was bound for them to share stories about last night.

Chaffy just grinned triumphantly, as if he was very cool for something he did.

“Chaffy!” Becca said and blushed “You wish, you bloke!” She said a bit furious and then turned to Vero. “Something could have happened, but little Chaffy seemed to have had too much to drink!” She said and Chaffy scowled.

The other boys in the room howled with laughter. The girls giggled. Of course, after much teasing of the poor guy, the conversation turned to other things.
After breakfast Harry was outside the door waiting for Chaffy to bring the car around. Veronica had walked with him to see him out.

“Will I see you again?” She asked hopefully.

Harry smiled at her. He had been trying to muster up the courage to ask her out. He thought it would have been a lot easier since they had spent the night together, almost naked, and in the same bed! The thing was that he didn’t know if she regretted last night or not. She had said she had a good time, but did she mean it?

“I would like to.” Harry replied as his hand automatically went to his messy hair. She smiled at him. She had found it so endearing last night when he did that. He obviously did it when he was nervous. She tended to rub her toes on the back of her ankle, just like she was doing now.

“How about I stop over the café on Tuesday and I can join you for lunch?” She asked.

“That’ll be great!” Harry exclaimed with enthusiasm.

“Great!” Veronica exclaimed and reached for him, and planted a solid kiss on his lips. Harry’s heart beat wildly. It was one thing to be brave and kiss her when he had one too many beers. Being sober was quite a different matter! He felt very clumsy as he reached to gingerly place his hands on her waist, while she had hers on his shoulders. They were craning their necks towards each other since there was a gap that could easily fit an adult person between them. Harry thought for a brief second about his first kiss with Cho; he didn’t feel as clumsy as he once had, and although his posture was uncomfortable, the kiss itself was not.

The sound of a horn calling impatiently broke them apart. They both blushed and smiled.

“Hey, Harry! Come on! We have to go!!!” Chaffy screamed at Harry from the street, and pushed the horn several times.

“I have to go.”

“Ok. I’ll see you Tuesday then.” She replied and Harry nodded.

“Bye.”

“Chao.” Veronica responded and waved at him as he got into the car. She closed the door and entered the living room. Veronica and Becca screamed at each other, clasped hands and giggled as they did a little dance. This was soooo exciting!


Chapter 5: News of a Death
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A/N. :
Hello again. As many of you have read the new HBP by now, you will know of the gizillion things that have now become canon. Please keep in mind that when I planned this story, I had no idea about these things, and there are certain things that will be out of whack and against canon. So just be warned! Thanks to the many of you who have read this! Please review, I really appreciate it. TTFN



Chapter 5

News of a Death


Harry entered the kitchen of 4 Privet Drive.

“WHERE THE BLOODY HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?” Petunia screeched at him. Harry jumped not expecting this sort of welcome.

“I, ah, I spent the night with Chaffy, my friend from work” Harry responded quite confused at her reaction. She looked like she hadn’t slept and seemed worried.

“Harry!”

Harry spun around to see Remus walking into the kitchen followed by Tonks, and Moody. “Thank Merlin you are alright!” Remus said obviously relieved to see him.

“What’s going on, why are you here?” Harry asked puzzled.

“Your aunt told Mrs. Figgs that you hadn’t come home last night. We were worried something happened. The whole order is scanning England looking for you” Tonks replied, and Harry turned around to look at his Aunt. She had gone to Mrs. Figgs? She knew about Mrs. Figgs? He didn’t know what to feel, but soon began to feel anger rising in him. He was old enough to take care of himself! He has survived some plot or scheme to end his life for the past five years, but no one wanted to treat him as anything more that a mere helpless boy!

“But I thought there was always someone from the order following me around?” Harry said and noticed their looks.

“What? You didn’t think I’d noticed the guards under concealment charms?” Harry asked.

“There was a mix-up, and you were alone for maybe half an hour in which you managed to disappear” Remus said and smiled; now feeling relieved that Harry was quite alright.

Harry coaxed himself to relax as he noticed that they were only concerned for him. Then he smiled, but for other reasons. He had been wondering all day who his guard had been last night and how much or what had they seen. He felt relieved that at least by a stroke of luck he had had his private time. If he was going to be seeing Veronica again, and he reckoned that he did want to see her again, he better set up some sort of agreement with the Order. He would like to have some privacy!

“Unless you don’t want to be locked up in here, I suggest you let someone know where you are. We can’t have you disappear like that again” Moody barked at Harry.

“All right” Harry conceded quite annoyed. He had learned to ignore the fact that he was being watched at all times, but this was ridiculous.

“I will go to headquarters and call off the search” Moody said and disappeared with a loud crack, making Petunia jump high, and almost drop a pan she was holding in her hands.

Remus approached Harry. He spoke in a calmer tone of voice now. “I am glad you are all right. But…I also came for another reason” He said as he pulled out an envelope from his robes. Harry looked at the envelope; it had the seal of the ministry imprinted on it.

“What’s this?” Harry asked when Remus handed him the envelope.

“Did you read yesterday’s edition of the prophet?” Remus asked with a concerned expression.

“No, actually I haven’t. By the time the owl came, I was running late. I just paid him and left for work. Why, what’s in it?” Harry asked curious.

“Let’s go up to your room. I think you should read it before you open this letter” Remus replied enigmatically. Harry turned to look at his aunt, who was now ignoring him.

Harry nodded and Remus and Tonks followed him. Remus looked around the messy room. There were clothes strewn about the floor. Books everywhere, papers stacked on a chair. He saw the pile of letters on his desk, quite a few of them unopened. Remus absorbed all he was seeing, but didn’t comment. Harry was searching through piles of stuff, and pulled out yesterday’s edition from where he had thrown it the day before. He unrolled the paper and stared at the headline.

SIRIUS BLACK: An innocent man died?

Sirius Black, who escaped from Azkaban two years ago is reportedly dead. He was murdered the same night You-Know-Who was declared returned. A few of the Official reports were finally released on the incident last May at the Ministry of Magic where You-Know-Who was recognized by Minister Fudge as being once again active and in power. The Daily Prophet learned that the incident involved the Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter, and several of his classmates from Hogwarts whose names are not being released. Many details are still classified, and will not be released for public records, but this correspondent got information from a source inside the Ministry. It appears that You-Know-Who and his supporters lured the youngsters into a trap in order to obtain a the record of a prophecy for use against the wizarding world. Ministry Aurors arrived and several arrests were made of Death Eaters by the Aurors and who are now in custody of the Ministry. They will be sent to Azkaban once the new security is finalized. In addition to the Ministry aurors, Remus Lupin, a registered Werewolf was present, and Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts. Per his statement, his presence there was due to the fact that “[his] students were in danger”. It is rumored that Dumbledore himself fought against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but no details have been confirmed. But the biggest surprise to us was to learn that escaped convict Sirius Black, who we now know was the Godfather of the Boy-Who-Lived, was also present. Per official court documents, and testimonials taken from those present at the incident, Sirius Black was dueling against Death Eaters in order to save his Godson. This information was obtained from classified files of the confessions received by the Death Eaters in custody under the influence of Veritaserum. When questioned, the Death Eaters claimed that Sirius Black was an innocent man, that Peter Pettigrew was still alive, as was stated two years ago by Harry Potter himself. Today, it doesn’t matter if Sirius was innocent or not, for on that day he was murdered by Bellatrix Lestrange, a known Death Eater and Azkaban fugitive. Lestrange escaped along with You-know-who, but her husband and several other Death Eaters caught are still in custody (See page 9 for more details). Details of Mr. Black’s death are confidential, and are unavailable at this point. We at the DP would like to extend our condolences to Mr. Potter in the passing of his Godfather.


Harry tried to suppress the tears that he felt after reading the article. He felt anger mostly, at the fact that they still questioned Sirius innocence.

“The Order will be having a funeral for Sirius this weekend,” Remus spoke after a long silence.

“There is no body to bury,” Harry replied harshly.

“I know, but he at least deserves a funeral. So everyone has a chance to celebrate his life,” Remus replied in a serene tone of voice and placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. Harry brushed the hand aside and turned away from them.

“You don’t have to come if you don’t want to” Remus offered sighing.

“No! I’ll be there,” Harry replied without turning around, his shoulders slump in dejection.

“Someone will be here to pick you up,” Remus added and turned to look at Tonks. “Also, that letter in your hand is Sirius’ will. He left everything to you.”

“I don’t want any of it!” Harry replied angrily.

“I’m sorry Harry. I know this is hard for you, but you’re not the only one suffering his loss,” Remus replied a bit more hotly than he had intended.

Harry looked down at his feet and was ashamed for a moment. Remus regained his composure. “Until you turn 17, everything he left will belong to you. After that, you can do whatever you wish with it. I must be going now. I will see you on Saturday.” Remus said and dissapparated.

Harry stared at the spot where Remus had been a few seconds before, and he felt terrible. He was being very insensitive and just then he realized that Sirius had been Remus’ best friend too. Remus was also grieving his loss. He turned to Tonks.

Tonks smiled gently at him. “He will be fine,” she stated. Harry nodded.

“I have to go out and get some provision and some clothes,” Harry said after a while. “Is my guard here?” He asked asked trying to hide his annoyance.

“I got the shift today,” Tonks replied “but I think I will just accompany you like a regular person,” she said eyeing Harry but he didn’t say anything, and only nodded.

Harry looked in his room for a change of clothes and checked his wallet. He had enough money and would not have to go to the bank. Good thing, since it was Sunday.

“Let’s go.”

****

“Harry?” a female voice called from nearby. “Hey, Harry, over here!”

Harry turned around to see none other than Veronica, Nancy and Becca waving at him from across the street.

“Who are they?” Tonks asked as Harry waved back, and she noticed the blush on his cheeks.

“I work with one of them, one works across the street from where I work, and the other girl I met last night. Come on,” Harry responded and crossed the street to them. They were sitting at a little bistro having a cup of coffee.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” Vero asked standing and rubbed her cheek against his, and sounded a kiss. Harry blushed, but she had explained last night that it was the way she greeted friends.

“Hello Veronica. Hey Becca, Nancy. We were just shopping for some clothes. This is my friend N...”

“Tonks, call me Tonks,” Tonks interrupted before Harry used her name.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Veronica, but call me Vero, and this is Becca, and one of my roommates, Nancy,” Vero said

“Tonks, that’s a cool name,” Becca said shaking her hand. “And I love the color of your hair,” Becca continued. Today, Tonks had her hair a deep purple.

“Thanks.”

“So, you guys done shopping?” Vero asked as they sat down.

“I still need to buy some provision, so I can eat,” Harry replied.

“You can do that later. There’s an amusement park in town for some festival or something and we were going to go and check it out. Why don’t you join us?” Becca offered.

“I got nothing better to do,” Harry shrugged. It would be nice to get his mind off Sirius and this weekend, and the unopened letter at home. He turned to Tonks.

“I’m in,” She grinned.

“Great, let’s go,” Vero said and stood up “My car is around the corner,” She said and grabbed Harry’s hand and pulled him along.

“This is your car?” Harry asked as they stopped in front of a small BMW. “How can you afford a car like this?” He asked perplexed, she had been working at a newspaper office, but had quit just a few days ago and was looking for a job. She didn’t seem to be in a position to own anything like this.

Vero bit her lip, and sadness entered her eyes. “My parents insisted I have it. I refused it like I always refused their charity, I don’t like to take what they give me, but this was the last thing they wanted me to have before they were murdered”

They were silent for a moment, Harry feeling like an idiot. “I’m sorry” He mumbled.

“It’s alright. It is still hard to think of them” She then turned and looked at the car. Harry understood exactly how hard it was to think about someone you love and you lost.

“I couldn’t let go of this car, I thought that by keeping it I would somehow make it alright with them. I hope they know I love them” She said and opened the trunk for Harry to place his bags. “Plus, it is very salvage” She said the word in Spanish. “Meaning cool” She said when they looked at her perplexed. They smiled.

“So you brought this car in all the way from Nicaragua?” Harry asked wondering at the amount of money it took to do such a thing, plus paperwork and fees and all that stuff.

“Yeah”

“That must have cost you a fortune!” Harry exclaimed. Vero blushed. “Yes, it did”

Harry discovered that Vero was in fact a millionaire, but she said she didn’t just tell anybody about it, and she certainly didn’t act like one. Besides, she wouldn’t be owner of her fortune until she turned 18. For now, she had to ask to have money from the legal guardian, and she hated it.

They arrived at the park, and in no time they had terrorized the small amusement park. When the day was over, Vero gave Harry a lift to the market and stores to stock up on food.

“Now where to?” Vero asked.

“Can you drop me off first? Chaffy is coming over to see me tonight” Becca said and her face flushed.

Vero smiled “Sure”

After dropping Becca off, Vero took Tonks and Harry to Little Whining, and to #4 Privet Dr.

“Nice to meet you Vero, Nancy” Tonks said as she got out and headed to the trunk of the vehicle to collect bags.

“Likewise Tonks” Vero replied “See ya Tonks!” Nancy added

“Thanks. I had a great time” Harry said and got out of the car.

“Anytime” Vero said and winked at him, then drove off.

“Vero’s pretty cute” Tonks said and giggled at Harry’s blush.

*******
So? What are your thoughts! I'd really appreciate your feedback! Thanx!


Chapter 6: In Loving Memory...
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A/N: Hello again! I have the next chappie here. Thanks for reading! Please review! Any of your thoughts are welcome!
*****

Chapter 6

In Loving Memory…


Harry looked up at the sky and noticed that the heavens seemed to match his mood today. He was standing in his room looking outside. He had just finished taking a shower, and he felt goose bumps on his chest and arms from the cool breeze with a crisp scent that wafted through the now open window. He sighed and turned around, heading towards his bed where he had laid out the new outfit he had purchased by owl post from a catalogue of a shop in Diagon Alley.

Harry slipped on the lightweight black trousers and the long sleeve black cotton t-shirt. He slipped on his black dragon leather boots, with a harness style that came up just below the knee. He picked up the last item of clothing to put on and smiled. He had initially been looking for a new plain black robe, but this had caught his eye instead. It was a full length, classically designed high collared cassock. It was made from black lightweight wool and it was fitted to his body. The front closed from a little below the waist up to the neck with antique black buttons. The fitted cassock did not have any cuffs on its sleeves. On the back, it had inverted pleating from center back waistline to lower hem. Harry liked how they billowed when he turned sharply.

Harry turned to look himself in the mirror. He rather liked the dark clad figure that looked back at him, except for one thing. He frowned at his hair. He picked up the bottle of gel he had bought and he was going to attempt to do something with his hair. He squeezed a decent amount of gel onto his hand, but not too much, and he rubbed his palms together to spread the gel, and then fingered it through his hair. He still could not tame the wildness of his hair, but with the added gel, it actually looked good. He liked it the best when his hair was wet and the gel helped to create that look a bit, separating larger strands of his hair as it hung down about his head. His hair was now long enough that it covered his ears and he liked it. Harry looked at himself in the mirror once more then nodded, satisfied. He pocketed his wand and looked at his watch; it was only 7:30 in the morning. Mr. Weasley would be picking him up at around 8:30, so now he had a full hour and nothing to do.

Harry lay on his bed waiting for the time to pass. He was trying to prepare himself for the event to come - today the Order was holding a funeral for his godfather, and to Harry it meant that today he had to come face to face again with the loss of Sirius; something that he had been avoiding. He didn’t want to go, but he knew he had to. As Harry’s thoughts wandered, his eyes came to rest on the letter Remus had given him a week ago. He had yet to open it. Harry got out of bed and approached his desk. He picked up the heavy parchment envelope and turned it around his hands for a while before he finally decided to break the wax seal. There was a letter inside, but he was also surprised to find two other parchment envelopes within it. One was addressed to him; the other was addressed to James Potter. He read the letter.

Mr. Harry James Potter
No. 4 Privet Dr

Dear Mr. Potter,

In light of the recent death of Mr. Sirius Black we are now exercising his last will and testament. You will not be required to attend the reading of his will, but we are informing you that Mr. Black has left everything to be transferred to your name. All proper documentation will be prepared and shall be handled by your legal counsel.

On this matter, however, we are unable to grant your legal guardianship to the person appointed by Mr. Black in his last will and testament. As you know, the current laws do not allow werewolves to gain custody of minors save for biological children. Mr. Remus Lupin has been notified of this. In his stead, your legal guardianship has been appointed by the Ministry to Mr. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore and all legal transactions will be handled by him. Enclosed in this letter is a personal letter that was left by Mr. Black addressed to your father, Mr. James Potter, to be delivered on his death. It is being delivered to you as the sole surviving heir of the Potter estate.

We are deeply sorry for your loss.

Sincerely,

Amanda Voight
Attorney at Magical Law
Ministry of Magic


Harry was surprised to learn that Sirius had left his guardianship to Remus. But now, it made him irate to realise that Remus had been denied this because of his affliction. Now Harry didn’t know what to think of the fact that it was Professor Dumbledore who would be his legal guardian. He wished it perhaps might have been the Weasleys, but with their economic situation Harry figured that they would not be given custody. In fact, the wizarding world might accuse them of trying to get his guardianship only to get a hand on his fortune, which now had increased due to the fact that Sirius had left him his small fortune. Harry thought that Sirius hadn’t had much since he had been disinherited by his parents at the age of 16. But when they had passed and their other son, Regulus, had also been dead, Sirius had automatically become the heir. There was also everything that his uncle Alphard had left him.

Harry set the letter aside and turned his attention to the two envelopes in his hands. One was considerably older, the parchment faded from years of storage. The one bearing his name written with the scrawls of Sirius’ handwriting seemed fairly new. He decided to open this one first.

My dearest Godson,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you have this letter then it’s because I did something stupid (like getting myself killed for example). As I write this I wonder in which way will I meet my final (and undoubtedly glorious) end, and I seriously hope that it somehow involves kicking Snivellus’ ass in the process. If not, will you promise me to hex that greasy git on my behalf?


Harry couldn’t help but chuckle amidst the tears as he began to read. It was just like Sirius to try and make light of a dark situation.

This is definitely the hardest thing I have done. To write my last words to you that I know will not serve in the least to comfort you. I know that no letter I received from James was able to quell the pain in my heart that I held for so long. But you, you brought such joy into my life when I thought there was none to have. It has been an honour to know you Harry and I am thankful for the chance to meet you and for the privilege to call you my godson.

The only regret I leave is that I have not done my job as your father asked of me. Now that lunatic will still try to end your life and because of my stupidity (no doubt) I am not going to be around to protect you. I don’t mean that you are defenceless, for even I know that you have a power within you unlike any other wizard. And don’t say you aren’t special in that way. There is no way such a young wizard can have faced that monster four times and escaped with life. I don’t pretend to know much, but I am not stupid either. I know Voldemort is trying to kill you for a reason Harry. It may be that he wants revenge for defeating him 14 years ago, but he came after you when you were a mere baby, and your parents were killed for protecting you. But enough of this stuff.

The main reason for me to write this letter is to tell you that I love you like the son I never had and that I will miss you. I know you won’t care for these things, but I leave all I have to your name. I want you to give part of it to Remus. I don’t do it directly because I know the Ministry will tax it and take most of it away. It isn’t his fault of what he is, but don’t get me started on that. But I will leave him this: you. I will appoint him your guardian upon my death and I hope he treats you well. I am sure he will. I trust Remus with my life, and I am thankful that I had the chance to get my friend back before the end.

Please take care Harry, and take care of that old werewolf for me. Make sure he gets to laugh. He is too serious. It was my job to ensure that he did something besides read books, now I leave that to you. I will give you a hint: anything you can cook up against Snivellus will give Remus a chuckle. I know he will not seem like it, but trust me… deep down inside he will enjoy it. Give my best regards to your friends and the Order, and when you get back to school, make me proud. After all, you are a Marauder by blood. Also, make sure to beat the hell out of those Slytherins in Quidditch.

Your Godfather,

Sirius


Harry brushed away the tears, and heard a soft popping noise, and a swish of air behind him. He turned around and saw Mr. Weasley standing in his room.

“Hello Harry,” He said with a gentle smile.

“Hello Mr. Weasley.” Harry replied as he stuffed the letter back in its envelope. He didn’t have time to read the one Sirius had left to his father a long time ago.

Mr. Weasley noticed the reddened and puffy eyes on Harry and he felt sympathetic towards him. He couldn’t imagine how hard it must be to lose your family and someone close to him by the time of his 16th birthday. He placed a hand gently on Harry’s shoulder.

“Are you okay?” Mr. Weasley asked Harry.

Harry swallowed and nodded. “I will be,” he replied softly. Arthur nodded.

“We better get going. Visitation will start around nine this morning,” Mr. Arthur informed him as he pulled out a velvet wrapped object from his pocket. “We will be taking a portkey.” He informed Harry.

“Where is the visitation taking place?” Harry asked curious. He wasn’t aware of any wizarding funeral houses around, but again, he wasn’t completely familiar with the wizarding world.

“We are holding it at Hogwarts,” He replied. Harry wondered about this. Mr. Weasley smiled. “It’s one of the safest places to hold it.” He added noticing Harry’s pondering. Comprehension dawned on Harry and he nodded.

“Ready?” Mr. Weasley asked uncovering a crushed coke can from the velvet wrapping. Harry took hold of the portkey and after a few seconds he felt the pulling sensation on his navel. The world swirled in a swish of colour and when Harry opened his eyes he was inside the Headmaster’s office. It was empty.

“It’s down in the Great Hall.” Mr. Weasley informed him. “I have to go to the Burrow and help Molly. I will see you in a while.”

Harry nodded. He left the headmaster’s office and exited through the gargoyle entrance.

“Harry?” Hermione’s voice was heard the moment he appeared in the hallway.

“Hey Hermione.”

“I didn’t recognise you in that outfit. Where did you get it?” She asked eyeing him dressed in a black high collared cassock, his black dragon leather boots just visible under the hem.

“Diagon Alley, I ordered it by owl post.” Harry replied and noticed Hermione looking at him.

“Do I look stupid?” He now wondered.

“No, on the contrary, it looks wicked. I was trying to think of who you remind me.” She replied. She withheld the comment to say that Snape’s cloak was similar to his.

“It’s very comfortable.” Harry added feeling a little uncomfortable under her gaze.

“A vampire! That’s who. You remind me of a vampire. I believe that’s a favorite garment of choice for them.” She exclaimed. The thought paused in her head. Is Snape a Vampire? No, he couldn’t be. He goes outside in the daylight. Part Vampire? He certainly is pale enough. Hermione dispel those thoughts from her head. He may carry himself with the menacing grace of an overgrown bat, but Hermione thought that it was by personal choice, and not condition.

Harry couldn’t help but smile at her enthusiasm, although he noticed that she was withholding some thoughts from him.

“I thought you were in Greece?” Harry asked to change the subject.

“I am actually in Bulgaria, but I had arranged with Professor Dumbledore to get a portkey to travel here and back.” She added as she hugged him. “I wanted to be here for you.”

“Thanks,” Harry answered gratefully. “You travelled by portkey by yourself?” Harry asked impressed.

Hermione blushed. “No, Viktor came with me. I hope you don’t mind?” She rushed.

“No, I don’t at all,” he said, although he did get a bit of a sour taste in his mouth, and felt his throat lock up holding down a foreign emotion. Harry dismissed his feelings as simply being in allegiance with Ron, and since Ron hated ‘Vicky’s’ guts, he too ought to show camaraderie.
“Does Ron know he’s here?” Harry asked already expecting Ron’s reactions which he was sure were ten times worse.

Hermione rolled her eyes… “He’s not here yet, but he knows Viktor was coming. He was sure to let me hear it before I left last week. Come on, Viktor said he wanted to say hi when you arrived. He’s down at the Entrance Hall now.” Hermione said and grabbed Harry by the arm and steered him towards the entrance.

“So, are you going out with Viktor then?” Harry asked point blank as he let Hermione drag him down the hall towards the staircases. He really didn’t want to see everybody, but he had no idea who would be there to the funeral.

“How many times do I have to tell you? No, Viktor and I are just friends.” she shrilled at him, but Harry noticed the pink tinge that had risen in her cheeks.

Harry grinned broadly. He already knew this, but sometimes he liked to irk Hermione. Harry also thought that Viktor had probably snogged Hermione senseless. His grin disappeared as the unbidden picture came into his mind. Maybe Ron was right after all.

Hermione was still going on about the subject “… you are just as bad as Ron!”

“Ok. Ok. I was just kidding. I’ve heard you enough times when you yell at Ron.” He said putting his hands up in defeat, but feeling for some reason his mood become foul.

Harry and Hermione approached the staircase to the entrance hall and Harry heard a very low murmuring coming from the room below. His eyes opened wide when he saw the room packed with people, most talking in smaller groups and speaking in hushed tones. It really made him self conscious when he walked in the room and a dead silence filled the entrance hall, all eyes turned on him.

“There’s Viktor.” Hermione said and hurried him down the steps. Harry looked in the direction they were heading and saw Viktor Krum standing next to Snape. To Harry’s relief, Snape saw them coming and excused himself from Krum’s side.

Krum turned around and saw the pair coming. He nodded towards Harry and extended his hand.

“Ve meet again Harry Potter. I offer my condolences.” Viktor said with his usual grim stony face.

“Er, Thanks.” Harry replied shaking his hand, and had to shake his head to rid himself of the picture of him cursing Viktor to oblivion. Just as quickly as these feelings and thoughts had come, they had gone. Hermione left the two alone for a moment; she had spotted a bunch of red heads at the top of the stairs.

Harry and Viktor talked about Quidditch. Viktor was now a full time professional Quidditch player, but he was considering joining the Academy to train as an Auror, or something like it.

Harry had to try and suppress a smile when he saw Hermione dragging a scowling Ron towards them. Viktor was oblivious to Ron’s feelings, or so he appeared, as he offered his hand in greeting. Ron’s gestures were clipped and rather stiff and Hermione elbowed him a couple of times to get him to respond to some of Krum’s questions.

“I have heard a lot about you. Hermione is alvays talking about you.” Viktor added and Hermione blushed. Ron looked suspicious and glanced between Hermione and Viktor.

Harry decided to interrupt, though he sided with Ron now. He wondered why, since before it hadn’t mattered to him. “I want to go see Professor Dumbledore.”

“I’ll go with you.” Ron quickly added and they left Hermione with Krum, much to Ron’s displeasure.

Harry groaned. The moment they were out of earshot Ron began to yap about Krum this and Krum that. He was glad when they found Professor Dumbledore for it relieved him of Ron.

“Harry. How are you doing?” Professor Dumbledore asked once he spotted him.

“As good as I could be I guess.” Harry replied his shoulders slump a little.

Dumbledore nodded and placed a reassuring hand on Harry’s shoulder.

“The service will start soon, and I wanted to ask if you wished to say a few words about Sirius during the service. I didn’t ask before because I can only imagine how hard this must be for you, as it is for all of us. But if there is something you wish to say…”

Harry shook his head. He thought of a few things he could say. God knows his soul was wrenching and perhaps saying a few things would help. But he couldn’t do it. Get up in front of everyone and talk about Sirius. It was just too painful.

“All right Harry. It is as much as I had thought, but I wanted to be certain.”

“Thanks Professor.”

“Let’s head into the Great Hall.” Professor Dumbledore began to usher Harry inside, Ron was at his side. A few moments later Hermione and Viktor joined him.

When they entered the Great Hall, it looked nothing like it did on school days. Everything had been changed to the colour black. There was a small table right by the entrance with a guestbook to sign, and Harry had to swallow a lump in his throat as he saw a picture of a young Sirius. He was laughing and waving from his portrait. Harry’s eyes began to burn, so he turned abruptly from the table and faced towards the place where the Head Table usually stood.

The regular house tables had been removed, and the hall was now filled with chairs arranged on either side of a middle aisle. Harry was surprised to see a fancy black coffin at the front, the crest of the Black family glimmering on top. Harry also noted a star, the Dog Star, shining brightly above it. The image of a large black dog making puppy eyes at him came to mind, and he didn’t know he had smiled. There were a multitude of beautiful flower arrangements all over the place, but Harry didn’t see them. He saw Sirius laughing face, and he could hear his barking laugh. The visions disappeared and now he stared at the coffin.

“Nobody besides us knows how he died.” Professor Dumbledore explained.

“What’s inside of it?” Harry asked not moving from the spot where he had stood frozen as he saw the coffin.

“A few of his treasured possessions,” Dumbledore replied. Harry nodded. He couldn’t explain why, but to know that Sirius’ body had not been found by any means made it not real, not yet. Dumbledore steered him towards the front row of seats. Hermione and Ron sat on either side of him, and Ron was glad when Viktor offered to sit a few rows back to let those close to Harry to sit with him.

“What is he doing here!?” Ron hissed when he noticed the blond head of Draco Malfoy accompanied by his mother.

“Professor Dumbledore couldn’t refuse them to attend. She is his cousin.” Hermione warned Ron in low hush.

Hatred bubbled inside of Harry. It had been she whom Kreacher had visited. She and her husband were the cause of this. She and her stupid cousin! Harry clenched his teeth, his knuckles turning white. He wanted to kill her. A shudder passed through Harry.

...You have to mean it..

Bellatrix’s voice taunted him. Harry knew that if he ever saw her again he would mean it, but this time it wouldn’t be Crucio he would use on her. No, all of them deserved to pay, their lives in exchange for Sirius’. He wanted to kill Narcissa right here right now. Harry closed his eyes. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t do anything right now. He couldn’t just get up and hex her in front of all these people for no apparent reason. He was trying very hard to calm down.

Harry noticed members of the Order strategically taking their places as people began to fill in the seats. He supposed there would be those who were Death Eaters or worked with them here. But they wouldn’t dare try something in here, would they? Harry turned to glare at Malfoy who was sneering at him from the other side of the aisle.

The service began and Harry stared at his feet most of the time. He had tuned out almost all noise, barely paid attention to the speeches made remembering Sirius at his best. He was so numb inside, he wanted to scream. Instead silent tears rolled down his cheeks. The service passed as in a blur to him. Later that morning, they were at the large cemetery next to the school grounds, just outside of Hogsmeade. Harry watched as the casket was lowered down, and the grave filled with dirt. The clouds had thickened and the sky darkened. The smell of Ozone was in the air and Harry could feel the thunderstorm coming. He barely paid attention to the people that came and offered their condolences to him. Almost everyone had gone back inside the castle, except for Ron, Hermione, Remus and Harry.

“Would you give us a moment?” Remus asked Ron and Hermione and they nodded.

“We’ll wait for you inside.” Hermione said and gave Harry a hug, which he returned. Ron patted him on the back, and simply nodded. The pair left the graveyard and back inside the school.

“It seems so final.” Harry finally spoke for the first time in a long time.

Remus nodded and stood next him.

“Harry…”

“I’m sorry Professor. I have been so selfish.” Harry interrupted him.

“No Harry, I’m sorry for my outburst the other day. It’s just been hard for both of us.” He said as he reached an arm around Harry and hugged him. Harry felt awkward at first, but his body was craving comforting yet he didn’t know it. Instinctively, Harry wrapped his arms around Remus and he couldn’t stop the silent tears. He felt embarrassed of his outburst in front of Professor Lupin, but the release felt so good that he couldn’t stop it. Remus held him tight, and he too couldn’t stop the tears that came unbidden.

“Thanks Professor.” Harry said as he pulled back, wiping away at his face.

Lupin smiled “It’s been two years since I last taught you Harry. I would like it if you called me Remus.”

Harry nodded.

“Let’s go back inside.” Remus offered.

Harry looked back uncertainly towards the castle, people were walking up the lane passing the gates. “Can I stay here a while longer. I won’t be long, I promise.” Harry said and Lupin nodded.

Harry stared at Sirius’ gravestone for a while. The moving picture of a big shaggy black dog as it ran or slowed down to walk made Harry smile.

“Goodbye Sirius,” Harry said and placed a hand on the gravestone. He turned and began to walk back towards the castle. He was trying to delay his way back so he weaved back and forth between the gravesites and stopped abruptly. Harry blinked as he saw a large headstone.

In Loving Memory of
James and Lily Potter


Harry had never known his parents had been buried here. His aunt Petunia had said that they had been cremated all those years ago. Seeing his parents’ grave had pierced his heart. He felt like a blow had been given to his stomach and he collapsed onto his knees. He felt tightness at the back of his throat and he couldn’t escape the wail that began to grow. It had been too much. As the rain began to pelt down on him, he wept, releasing a flood of emotions that he always kept bottled up. His hot tears mixed with the cool summer rain. Harry cried harder than he had in a long time. He cried for his parents, he cried for Sirius.



Chapter 7: Birthday Wake Up Call
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Chapter 7

Birthday Wake Up Call


“Huh?” Harry mumbled as someone shook him awake. “Go away!”

“Harry, come on!!! Get up… get up!” Ron said as he shook him some more.

Harry looked at his alarm clock. “Ron, it is midnight, and I have to go to work this morning,” he groaned and rolled into the covers.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” There was a loud chorus that made Harry jump from his bed.

Harry sat up, rubbed his eyes, and put on his glasses that he had on his bedside table. That’s right! Today he was turning 16 years old! He had forgotten about it. He turned to look at the large group of people crammed into his small room.

“How did you get here?!” Harry asked, and nervously looked towards the door.

“Don’t worry, Silencing Charm on the room. They can’t hear a thing,” Remus said with a smile.

“Plus Moody put a good Sleeping Hex on them,” Tonks chuckled as she stood by the bed, her hair a vivid shade of pink. Mrs. Weasley came over next to Harry and engulfed him in a hug.

“Happy Birthday dear,” she said as she let go of him.

Harry looked about the room and he was surprised to see it completely decorated with balloons and banners, and he grinned at the Weasley twins who were putting up some more decorations. Everyone began to wish him a happy birthday. In addition to Remus, Tonks was there, as well as Moody, the whole Weasley group (minus Percy, and Charlie), Professor McGonagall, and Hermione. There was a pop sound and Dumbledore appeared. He was still wearing his nightcap, although he was dressed in his daily robes.

“Am I too late?” He asked.

“No, we just awoke Harry,” Professor McGonagall informed him.

“Excellent,” Dumbledore nodded and he noticed the crammed room and he flicked his wand and Harry’s room increased to about triple the size, which everyone was grateful.

Harry felt a stab of embarrassment at seeing Dumbledore. He remembered the last time he was in his presence he had smashed half of his office. Dumbledore, however, seemed to be completely ignorant of Harry’s embarrassment as he shook his hand eagerly and wished him many more birthdays. Dumbledore then turned to Remus.

Harry grinned wildly at the group who were now piling gifts onto his bed. Molly was clearing his desk to place a huge cake that read Happy 16 Harry. The cake was decorated in red with gold frosting. Professor Dumbledore was conjuring chairs for the people to sit, while Remus was preparing tea for the lot since he had brought his tea kettle.

“Thanks for this,” Harry said overcome with emotion.

“We figured that since you can’t come to be with us because of your job, then we’d come and give you a birthday party while the Dursley’s are asleep,” Hermione said as she neared the bed and sat down. The adults began to chat as they waited for tea, while the twins debated on how to sneak out of the room to Dudley’s. Ginny was helping Mrs. Weasley with the cake.

“Here, I wanted to be the first to give you your gift,” Ron said as he rubbed his palms together and reached for a small wrapped package and handed it to Harry.

Harry grinned sleepily at Ron and tore the package open. It was a nice looking wristwatch. Harry’s had been damaged a few weeks ago and he hadn’t bought a new one yet.

“Ron! This is great. Thanks. I needed one badly,” Harry exclaimed and put it on.

“That’s not just a simple watch. Check this out,” Ron said and showed that he had one on his wrist as well. He then reached for Harry’s and pushed on the button on the side three times. To Harry’s surprise the watch’s face gleamed and changed so Harry was looking at his reflection into a mirror.

“Now, say my name to it,” Ron exclaimed excited.

“Ron Weasley,” Harry spoke to his watch.

Ron’s watch on his wrist began to vibrate. He pushed the button on his, and Harry saw that on his wristwatch he was now seeing Ron’s face.

“We can talk to each other using these! Hermione bought one too. And we linked all three of them. You can talk to both of us at the same time. Push the button three times again and say Hermione’s name,” Ron encouraged.
Harry did as told and grinned as Hermione’s face appeared, replacing Ron.

“Happy Birthday Harry!” Hermione said from his watch.

“This is so cool! Thanks Ron. Where did you get these?” Harry asked.

“Fred and George of course! They said that these are the first to be finalized, but they won’t be sold to the public. They made them thinking they would be great for the DA but they agreed to sell us these now. Aren’t they awesome?” Ron said and Harry noticed that his watch now had Ron’s face on it.

“And that’s not all…” Hermione’s voice came over the wristwatches as the image switched to her. She had moved away to a corner to demonstrate the watches. Harry could see Fred making faces at him behind Hermione, “…they are charmed so no one else can hear what I am saying on the receiving end, only you two since you have a watch linked to mine.”

“How do you sign off?” Harry asked.

“Just push the button once,” Hermione replied and disappeared from the screen and Ron’s face was now on it. “You can change what you want your watch to do when you have an incoming link. I have mine to vibrate, but you can have it get warm, like our DA galleons. You can also have it beep, but only you will hear the beep. This is how you change it…” Ron began to explain, but they couldn’t actually do it right now since they could not use magic during the summer when they were out of school.

Just then Hermione came back and sat next to them on the bed. She was wearing a pair of pajama pants and a soft cotton tank top. She grinned at them.

“This is great Hermione!” Harry said pointing to his watch.

“I’ll say. And I am very impressed with Fred and George. I keep expecting them to blow up any minute. I never thought the twins were cut out for serious or useful stuff other than jokes,” she replied. “Here. Happy Birthday,” Hermione added as he handed a heavy package.

“Hey, I thought the skiving snack boxes were useful!” Ron exclaimed.

Hermione just rolled her eyes, while Harry began to tear the wrapping paper of the package. He smiled knowingly when he saw the spine of several books.

“Lord of the Rings?” Harry said pulling out the first four books.

“Have you ever read them?” She asked enthusiastically.

“Ehm, no… I haven’t,” Harry replied.

“I know you are going to love them. They are considered muggle fantasy fiction, but Tolkien, the author, calls this world the history of our world. I have read that Tolkien was in fact a wizard, that he is a historian. He tried to have his books published for magical history, but no one believed him. So he turned to a muggle publisher and they became a legend with muggles. I am actually considering doing some research on his theories and…” Hermione noticed that she was beginning to bore them with her rambling, “…Oh, well, at any rate, they are a good read. I thought they might be nice to help you get your mind off things sometimes,” She finished.

“I will give them a try,” Harry replied and set the books aside and pulled three more books from the wrapped gift. The Art of Dueling, The Complete Reference Resource for Magic Level LIX and Secrets of the Animagi

“Thanks Hermione, they really sound interesting,” he said and gave her a genuine smile.

“Open the Reference Book,” Hermione said.

Harry did so and noticed that the pages were blank.

“This book is connected to the Network of Magical Libraries,” Hermione explained

“What is that?” Ron asked her.

“Basically, let’s say you know of a book that Hogwarts Library doesn’t have, you can place a request through the Library Network to borrow a copy from another location. This book,” she said pointing to it, “will search the reference for any book ever published on any topic that you want to look into. I’ll show you
She tapped her wand onto it and said “top ten tittles for Defense Against the Dark Arts.” The words ‘Accessing database… Please wait…’ appeared on the first page. After a brief moment a list appeared with the name of the top ten books on the subject.

Hermione tapped one of them with her wand, and the book morphed and Harry now had in his hands the book Hermione had picked.

“Wow, this is cool,” Harry replied.

“And, there is very little restriction on the books you can see with this book. Basically anything in the restricted section at Hogwarts and even some beyond that we can now look at without having to ask permission,” Hermione added with a gleam in her eye.

“How did you manage to buy a book with such high security clearance?” Harry asked curious.

Hermione grinned, “It helps to have certain retired Auror friends who have such clearance,” she answered enigmatically.

“Who bought it for you?” Ron asked curious.

“It was Mad-Eye actually,” she replied

“Are you serious?” Harry asked with disbelief and turned to look at the old Auror who was accepting a cup of tea from Remus.

“Yes!”

“How did you ever approach him about such a thing and get him to agree?” Harry asked incredulous.

“Well, let’s just say the way I said it made it sound that this will be instrumental for us to be in ‘CONSTANT VIGILANCE!’” She answered mimicking the old Auror in a hushed tone. Harry and Ron laughed at this.

Hermione continued, “what’s even better? You won’t need to buy any new books for the year, all you have to do is tap the book, search the database for the name or the author and you can then tap the edition with your wand and this book will morph into that book for each class. I got myself one too, but mine is a student level clearance. It doesn’t have the security clearance that Harry’s does. It is a lot cheaper too. I showed mine to your mom Ron. She thought it was a good idea and I think Fred and George bought one for you too. She said you can use it for this and 7th year too, and Ginny will get one next year when she passes her OWLs, since she’s got a lot of your books from last year.”

Harry really appreciated the thoughtfulness of Hermione and he already liked the idea of not having to carry so many books around! He only needed this one.

“Thanks Hermione, this is going to save my back. What about this one?” He asked picking up the one about Animagi.

“Ever since we learned about Animagi I have been curious about it. This book talks about it a lot, but doesn’t really say how it is done. I thought you might be interested in becoming an Animagus… I know I’d like to… and I think we could talk to Professor Lupin about it, after all… S… the marauders learned how to do it,” Hermione said and watched Harry’s reaction. She could see the flash of pain in his face as they all thought of Sirius, but he recovered and grinned.

“I think that sounds fantastic!” He exclaimed. “What about this one?” He said pointing to the dueling book.

“Well, I was thinking that perhaps it would be a good idea to re-instate the DA when we get back to school,” she began then continued quickly before Harry had any chance to object, “now that V-Voldemort is officially back.” Ron shuddered at the name. “I think it will be really important for us to learn as much as we can to defend ourselves. I mean, we are not going to be in Hogwarts forever, and the better prepared we are the best chances we have of winning this war. I already have a price on my head, just for being muggleborn and I would like to be better prepared in case we get into any situations like last year. I mean, anyone of us might be faced with Voldemort sometime and if we are to defeat him we better be prepared,” she said with a serious tone.

Harry paled at Hermione’s words. He remembered just then that had not told them about the prophecy yet, and he was not prepared to say it to them, but they had seen it in him. He was hiding something.

“What is it Harry?” Ron asked worried

“Nothing,” Harry stammered.

“Harry, we know you have been hiding something from us,” Hermione said without releasing her piercing gaze. “You shouldn’t keep so much to yourself. And don’t give me any of that about not wanting to worry us! We worry more when you don’t tell us what is wrong,” Hermione pleaded.

“It’s just … I am not ready… not yet… I promise I’ll tell you, but not tonight.” Hermione nodded in understanding. “But that’s not all. I… I also remember what happened at the Department of Mysteries, and I… you could have all been killed, because of my stupidity, and Sirius…” He couldn’t continue and had to pause for a moment… “I don’t know if I can handle all of this.” Harry was glad that they wouldn’t pressure him to say what really was on his mind, but he was not willing to deal with their reactions just yet. Hermione would shrill about it, and then pester him about it, while Ron would act as if it was the end of the world. Besides, the room was full of other people.

“Oh, Harry. Everything in the end will be al lright. And we’re here for you, always!” Hermione said sitting next to him, and giving him a one armed hug.

“Yeah mate,” Ron piped in.

“Thanks guys. It means a lot to me,” Harry said and sighed inwardly. He was glad they hadn’t pressured him for more.

“Harry, Ron, Hermione. Tea is ready,” Mrs. Weasley called and the trio joined the group and sat on a couple of chairs.

“I think is time for Harry to open the rest of his presents,” Fred chimed as he sat next to Ginny.

“I reckon he is right,” George seconded the motion.

Ron began to pass Harry the packages on the bed. Harry received a package of baked goods and other things from Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and a small gift certificate to Honeydukes from Ginny. Harry got a huge supply of the Weasley twins’ products and a note detailing which ones were specifically for use on Dudley. Harry laughed while Mrs. Weasley scolded the pair. Moody had given him a portable pocket foe glass and a real miniature sneakoscope that could be worn on a chain, hidden underneath his shirt, and Professor McGonagall had given him a Quidditch game set, complete with tiny people on brooms, several teams to pick, for 1 to four players. Tonks gave Harry a new set of exploding snap cards, and Professor Dumbledore gave him a small Penseive that could contain two large or several small memories. Remus’ present to Harry was a collection of parchment notes from his days at school that he had found. He had mostly compiled a collection of those that had notes scribbled on by James, and a few of the love letters that Sirius had stolen that had been from Lily to James. There were also a few of the notes passed between the marauders in class, and a picture of Sirius, James, and Lupin on their last day at Hogwarts.

Harry fought hard the emotions he felt as he saw a picture of Sirius, but thanked Lupin for the glimpse into his parents’ life. There was one present left, it was wrapped all in black and it didn’t have a tag on it.

“Doesn’t say who it is from,” Ginny remarked as she handed the package to Harry.

“Oh, yes… I forgot Harry. This is from Professor Snape. He said he lamented not being able to join your party this morning, so he sent along his present with me,” Dumbledore said in a casual tone of voice as if it was perfectly normal to receive a present from Snape.

“I bet he was heartbroken,” George murmured to Harry.

Harry opened the package and saw a small black stone cube. There was a note attached as well as a small book: Idiot’s Guide to Occlumency
The note was handwritten in Professor Snape’s writing.

Do read this book Potter, and if you manage to work this child’s toy correctly, you may resume your Occlumency Lessons. I assure you, this comes as a suggestion from the Headmaster.

Harry had hoped that the topic of Occlumency was to be eliminated completely from his schedule after the disastrous attempts of last year. Harry had been practicing clearing his mind at night in hopes to prevent Voldemort from attacking him again. Either his efforts were working, or something else was doing something, because so far Harry hadn’t had a single nightmare, or weird dreams. Well, except those dreams that were so silly, it would be ludicrous to think that Voldemort had anything to do with them.

After the presents, they sang happy birthday to Harry, and distributed the cake. Around two in the morning, Mrs. Weasley suggested they let Harry back to bed, since he had to get up and go to work in a few hours. In a quick flash, everyone who could apparate had gone after wishing their farewells (after Moody lifted the Anti-Apparition spell on the house). Only Ron, Hermione, and Ginny remained with Remus who would take them back by portkey. Dumbledore too remained as he flicked his wand and the room returned to normal, all decorations gone with any evidence of their presence as well, and the room was actually cleaner than how it had started. He bid Harry and the others goodnight and left.

“Good night Harry. We’ll see you in a few weeks,” Hermione said and she hugged him.

“Night mate,” Ron added and Ginny said goodnight.

“Ready?” Remus asked and the four of them took the Portkey back to Grimmauld place.

Harry took a few moments to put away his gifts in his trunk, and smiled. It had been such a wonderful surprise to get his own birthday party, and he crawled into bed to sleep for a few hours. He slept better in those few hours than he had in a long time.


Chapter 8: The Luck of a Chance Encounter
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Chapter 8

The Luck of a Chance Encounter


The next couple of weeks had gone by fairly quickly and, for once, Harry was not wishing he was not there. He had one more week scheduled to work, and then he would be going to spend the last week before school at Grimmauld Place. He had as ‘normal’ a summer so far as he could have ever hoped for. It hadn’t been perfect, but it was by far the best of the last 15 years. Plus there weren’t any Dementors, or Death Eaters attacking him, in fact there hadn’t been as many attacks as they had expected in the wizarding world now that Voldemort had gone public, which worried Harry. To him this meant that Voldemort was planning something, and probably something big. His scar prickled as usual but Harry had not been able to see anything or feel much as far as Voldemort was concerned.

Work had been a great experience for Harry. Not only was he making his own money, and learning things like responsibility and whatnot, he had also found several good Muggle friends too. Living at the Dursleys’ had been a complete change. Prompted by the Order’s threats, his Uncle had pretty much left him alone, except to ask if he had sent his letter yet. The fact that Harry was sustaining himself took away a lot of things for him to grumble about as well. His relationship with his aunt was a different matter. He remembered the day she had come to him to give him a key. She didn’t say anything, simply offered it and walked away. When Dudley would eat his food, his aunt without a word would simply replenish it. In turn, Harry had begun to do things. He would bring an extra bag of potatoes, or chicken, and supplies. He never said anything, she never said anything. He also did chores without having to be asked and she never asked any more.

Dudley had got a job at a fast food restaurant, from which he was fired for eating the food, and now he worked at his dad’s factory and made drills. Vernon could not quite forgive his son for the embarrassment caused by his expulsion from school, and to aggravate matters, the police had come one evening dragging Dudley after having caught him beating up a young 10 year old with his goons. The second time the police came with Dudley in their grips, it had almost given Vernon a heart attack. Dudley was now the prisoner of Privet Drive. He was only allowed to leave the house to go to work with his dad, and back home straight afterwards. Harry had found himself sometimes feeling pity for Dudley, but not often, and he couldn’t help but feel relieved that the Dursleys could finally see Dudley for what he was.

Harry was learning to control his temper most of the time as well, and also learning to deal with the loss of Sirius had contributed to his growth. Harry was grateful for his job and his friends. He was still unable to let go of Sirius but with a busy summer Harry had not had much time to grieve for him. Harry had a nice relationship with Vero, the beautiful Latina from Central America, although she was adamant that things not get serious. Vero had said that when the new school year came she would go back home and return to school to finish her education. She had dropped out of high school to rebel against her parents, but now that they were dead, she wanted to make amends. She would be leaving for school in two weeks too.

Harry sighed with all the thoughts floating about in his head. He was actually looking forward to the weekend. Tonight he was going on a date with Vero after meeting with the gang at a local pub, and Hermione and Ron were going to stop by tomorrow, Saturday. He was looking forward to seeing his friends; he had seen them a bit as the summer progressed, and Hermione had actually visited him a few times, bringing Ron with her once or twice and the three had shared lunch when he worked. Harry had alternated his weekends when he didn’t work between visiting the Burrow, and spending the weekend with the Muggle gang. He had refused to go to Grimmauld Place until the very last week of the summer, and to his surprise the Order had not put up a fight with him. Hermione and Ron had spent a weekend with him, and they had all stayed at Nancy’s and Vero’s house. Harry would never bring them to the Dursleys’.

Harry lay in bed and looked down to the mop of dark brown, almost black, hair. Vero was next to him, sleeping in the hollow of his shoulder, one leg draped across him. Whenever he came to her house, Harry almost always ended up sleeping here and shared her bed. But they both enjoyed the proximity of their bodies. They hadn’t done anything yet, but it would be a lie to say that they had not explored each other. They had taught each other to kiss and experimented quite a bit with that. As summer progressed, they had grown to know each other a bit, although Harry had a heavy burden on him and he was unable to be completely honest with her, he also had the distinct feeling that there was more to Veronica than she would share. From kissing, things had naturally progressed from hands tentatively searching for places they had never been before, to learning to loosen buttons on shirts, to exploring each other in each others underwear. Her caresses were bound to cause a reaction on Harry, and vice versa, and it was only natural that their desires led them to learn the sensations that certain touches aroused. For now, they had reached as far as grinding against each other with their underwear between them, while making out, but nothing more.

He remembered how embarrassed he was last night when her hands had tugged playfully at the waistband of his underwear and she took a peek, but that was it. Worries about performance, and size, and unimaginable things crossed his mind, but his brain seemed to quit functioning and he was unable to produce a clear thought. He had felt so self conscious. Veronica leaned in and began to kiss him passionately. Harry’s trembling hands wrapped around her. Oh my God, this is it! Harry thought as he began to push her down on the bed. They had been interrupted by a loud knock on the door.

“Hey, Harry? I am taking off.” It was Chaffy. “You coming or staying tonight?”

Harry and Vero looked at each other. “Staying.”

“Alright mate, see you at work tomorrow.”
With the moment ruined, they had settled to kissing each other. They didn’t venture into anything more. But they were both feeling excited about new discoveries, and extremely curious about the final act that would culminate their innocence, yet neither felt ready to cross that line and then they had fallen asleep.

Harry for a moment wished that he had pushed to go farther last night, yet another part of him was relieved they hadn’t. He was going to leave to go back to Hogwarts by the end of summer, and perhaps he would never see her again, now that she would be heading back to Central America to go to school. He felt that to rob Vero of her innocence (and his) just before they left would not be fair to her, nor him. He was going to miss her though.

Harry thought about the time when he would have to go to Grimmauld Place, and a cold dread filled him. He didn’t want to go there. He hadn’t been there all summer yet, avoiding the place that was so full of memories of Sirius. Harry was beginning to accept Sirius’ death and Vero had helped him. He talked with her about his loss of his godfather, without many details, but she had comforted him. She had lost her parents recently, and sharing each other’s grief had helped. It had been very hard for Harry when he had attended the funeral arranged for Sirius, but she had helped him when he returned.

Another thing that Vero had helped Harry with was his temper. He had been on edge, and irritable all through last year and the heavy burden of what he knew he must do was almost driving him insane. He had been extremely angry with Dumbledore, the Order, his friends, and he sometimes couldn’t help but lash out, and Vero was always around when he lost his temper. But if he had a temper, it was nothing compared to Veronica’s. She was not one to back out of anything, and the arguments that sprung between Harry and Veronica were something frightening. Many times their friends had feared that they would murder each other, only to be surprised by how one second they were at each other’s throats, the next they were making out peacefully as if nothing had happened. Harry had to smile thinking about her spirit. Yes, he was going to miss her.


Harry put on his glasses and looked at the clock. It was 5am and he would have to get up pretty soon to be at work by 6:30.
He looked down at the dark haired girl and a knot built in his chest. He didn’t want to let her go. She had made him forget about his grief, about Voldemort, but soon it would be time to go, and to let her go.

He sighed and slipped from under her leg and headed to the bathroom. Veronica’s room was the one in the house with a private bath. He wanted to take a quick shower before going to work, despite the fact that he would be covered in concrete and mud, and dust by the time he left in the evening. He didn’t bother to cover himself as there was no one else in the room, and he was perfectly comfortable walking around his underwear in front of Veronica. He opened the door to the bathroom and entered. He closed the door and pulled his underpants down and headed to the shower but tripped on something he couldn’t see. He heard a female’s voice curse.

“OW… Damn it!” The girl muttered, although Harry couldn’t see anyone.

Harry jumped to get a towel, and heard someone sniggering at him as he tried to drape a towel to cover his indecency.

“Who’s there?” He hissed in a hushed tone and hoped Vero had neither noticed nor heard. Harry suddenly felt that he should have his wand with him.

“Shhh, relax, it’s just me Harry.” Tonks said as her head appeared as she slipped off her cloak.

“I thought you guys stayed outside and didn’t come into the rooms!” Harry said annoyed and nervous. That had been the agreement.

“Hey, it’s not like I wanted to be trapped in here!” Tonks replied annoyed too.
“It was an accident, I fell asleep! I swear! Last night I needed to use the loo, so I snuck in here to use it but you guys came into the room before I had a chance to get out, and on top of that you locked the door so I couldn’t leave until you fell asleep.”

“Shhh, you’ll wake her up!” Harry said panicked.

“Don’t worry; I have a charm on me so only you can see me. She can’t hear me either.”

Harry glared at her, when he noticed her giving him the once over.
“And why didn’t you just apparate out of here?” He asked, holding tight to his towel.

Tonks laughed. “Because Moody has put an anti-apparition spell for about fifty metres around you!” She replied her temper rising… “Look, it’s not like I wanted to see Harry Jr., I had to come in here last night because you two… well… you know… and I had to wait for you to go to sleep before I could get out, and I fell asleep in here!” She replied, but still chuckled at Harry and his mad grip on his towel.

Harry blushed deeply, and gripped his towel even tighter; trying to arrange it to make sure it would not fall off.

“Harry, relax. It’s not like I’ve never seen one before, besides… you obviously have nothing to be embarrassed about, and I am sure you…” She snickered.

“Shut up.” Harry said and wondered what she had heard last night.

“And don’t worry; I put a silencing charm on the door so I didn’t hear anything.” She said a grinned at him. Harry didn’t bother to say that they hadn’t done anything, although it wasn’t exactly what Tonks was thinking.

“Anyway, I best be out. Patrick will be here any minute, and Jane will be joining you later this morning. My shift’s over for now. I’ll take over at lunch for a bit. I’ll see you soon.” She said and Harry walked to the bedroom door and let her out.

Harry didn’t have time to shower now, so he dressed and slipped a t-shirt over his head when he heard Vero stir.

“What time is it?” She asked rubbing her eyes.

“It’s almost 6.” He replied.

“Were you talking to yourself?” she asked still drowsy.

“Erm, yeah. Just making plans aloud.” he replied.

“You’re off to work?” She asked as she threw her legs over the side.

“Yeah.”

“What time you get off?” She asked now stretching.

“I think I’m done at 4. At least that is the plan’” Harry said and put on his steel toed boots. “I have to go.” He said standing and walking to her.

“I know.’” She said sadly but quickly masked her feelings “I’ll see you at lunch, right?” She asked.

“Yeah.” He said and smiled. He hesitated at first, but then he leaned down and kissed her, passionately.

“I’ll see you later then.” He grinned at her.

“That’s not fair; you can’t kiss me like that and just leave me here.” She pouted.

“You’ll just have to suffer. Bye.” Harry replied and ducked as she threw a pillow at him and he disappeared out of the door.

****

Donovan sat at the little café frustrated. Harry would be going back to school soon and he still had not been able to get what he needed. He had staked outside the Grangers’ but they had been away all over the world most of the summer, and when Hermione was home she only went to the Burrow or met the Order in The Leaky Cauldron. Then he had walked out to the Weasleys’ home and had followed the owls as they delivered letters, but anything going to Harry was taken to Dumbledore at Hogwarts. He was never able to catch the owls on their way to Harry’s house. He had followed members of the Order, but not once had they disclosed the location of Headquarters nor the location of Harry’s house. Then when Harry visited the Burrow it had been too crowded for him to attempt anything, and he always left via floo powder to what he gathered was a neighbour’s house, and he had not been able to place a trace on the floo network on him. It seemed that the neighbour’s house location was protected by the Fidelius Charm and without the Secret Keeper’s consent he could not place a tracer on the system. It was also risky going by the Burrow as the man, Moody, with his magical eye, was very good at spotting magic and Concealment charms. Donovan was getting desperate; he had never had such trouble finding someone, Wizard or Muggle, nor finishing his assignments. Donovan sipped on his drink as he waited for his lunch.

“There you go sir, anything else I can get you?” The young lady who was serving him asked.

“No, thank you… Miss…”

“Becca, just Becca.” The waitress smiled.

“Thank you, Becca.” Donovan said and began eating. He sat by one of the windows and looked across the street at the construction site where a structure was being built. It looked like a commercial building with some apartments in the upper levels. He returned his thoughts back to his several works in progress, and still couldn’t believe he had not found Harry Potter.

A beautiful young lady entered the café and he noticed she greeted Becca warmly.
“They’ll be here any minute.” Becca said as the girl sat down in the booth across from Donovan.

Donovan saw a group of people leave the construction site, probably on their lunch hour.

“Hello Becca, Vero.” a young man with another young woman called as he entered the café with the other construction workers and they sat at the booth right across from him.

“Hey Chaffy, Nancy. Where’s Harry?” Becca asked when he didn’t see him with them.

Donovan couldn’t help but turn his attention to them. Harry was a common name, of course, and it would be ridiculous to think that it would be the same Harry. Besides, what would Harry Potter be doing here?
Still, he paid attention.

“He’s with Lucy finishing some paperwork. He’ll be here in a minute.” Chaffy told them and took the menu from Becca, kissing her hand lightly.

“Hey, not here!” She scolded, but still smiled at him.

“There you are!” Vero called to the two people entering the restaurant.

A young woman, with a strong build walked into the restaurant followed by none other that Harry Potter himself.

Donovan was taking a sip of his drink when his eyes fell on Harry. There was no mistaking that this was the same Harry he had searched for all this time, and he choked on his drink.

“Are you alright?” Lucy asked the man handing him a napkin.

Donovan coughed a bit, and then spoke. “Yes, yes… Thank you. It just went into the wrong pipe.” He said still trying to clear his throat as he wiped some of the spilled beverage.

“I’ll take care of that.” Becca said and began to wipe the table. “I’ll get the kitchen to get you another sandwich.” She added noticing that he had spit up all over his food, and took his dishes away.

“Thank you.” Donovan added.

“I hate it when I do that.” Lucy, the young woman that came in with Harry said to him while she smiled.

“Me too.” Donovan replied as he stood up and wiped his beverage from his clothes. “Good thing my meeting was this morning.” He mentioned, wanting to keep the conversation going. He was doing a great job of ignoring Harry, instead focusing his attention on Lucy, who seemed to be the oldest female in the group, and she obviously found him attractive. In no time, Donovan had been invited into the conversation with the others and an extra chair was pulled for him. He sat next to Lucy, and across from Harry.

He introduced himself to everyone “My name is Michael Dobsen, by the way.”

“Jeremy Chafner, but call me Chaffy.” Chaffy offered and they shook hands, and they each in turn said their names.

“Nice to meet you.” Donovan added.

“We’ve never seen you here before.” Chaffy said in his direct manner.

“This is my first time here. I usually visit Persanas a few streets from here when I visit the museum.”

“What do you do at the museum?” Vero asked intrigued. She had been to the one Michael mentioned and she loved going to museums.

“I’m an archaeologist. Ian, the curator, is working on an artefact I dug a few years ago, and I stop by every once in a while to see his progress. He does the research stuff, I mainly like to be in the field at dig sites.” he replied.

“I’ve met Ian. He showed us inside the lab and some of the things he had back there when I was on this tour once. I’ve seen him other times when I’ve gone back there.” She said with enthusiasm.

“Veronica right? I’ll mention to him that I’ve met you.” Michael replied to her, and smiled.

“What sort of artefact?” Harry asked not quite liking the exchange between those two. Donovan made a note of it. He gave an explanation of what they thought it was, but he made a point to focus on Lucy. Then conversation turned to other topics.

“You guys better get back to work.” Becca warned as she walked by to serve another table.

Everyone groaned but left the table, and Harry and Vero stopped a few paces from them to talk. Lucy stayed behind a moment longer to speak with Michael.

“Well, it was nice to meet you.” She said and flirted a bit.

He smiled “I know this is a bit sudden, but would you like to go out tonight?” He asked boldly.

“I can’t, we’re throwing this party to Harry, Becca, and Vero tonight, since they are leaving to go back to their schools in a few weeks… but why don’t you stop by if you’d like?” She asked hopefully.

“That sounds great. What is the address?”

Donovan sat back down when Lucy left, and his mind was busy working. He took out a pair of sunglasses and scanned the area. He spotted the two people under the Invisibility Cloaks walking behind Harry as he headed back to work. He knew they were Harry’s guard. They were invisible to people, but his sunglasses were charmed to see over Concealment Charms and cloaks. Donovan left his tip, and walked from the café and pulled out a mobile phone.

“Yes?”

“I’ve found him.” Donovan spoke.

“Excellent work; when can I expect you?”

“Tomorrow.”

“I will await you at the designated place.”

Donovan put his mobile phone away and set to work.


Chapter 9: A Demented Party
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Chapter 9

A Demented Party


“Where is everyone?” Harry asked as they walked to Vero’s house. She had gone to pick him up after she had stopped by Becca’s. They were supposed to pick Nancy up at home.

“We’re meeting them at the pub, remember? But Nancy was supposed to be here.” She said as they headed towards the dark house and frowned. “Maybe she left a note.” She said unlocking the door.

“Do we have to go right away?” Harry asked pulling her to him and kissing her cheek. She smirked at him.

“Hey, no eating in front of the hungry!” Becca said, and playfully smacked Harry on the arm.

“OW!”

“You guys should…” Vero said as she opened the door but was startled when she flicked on the light switch.

“SURPRISE!!!” The lights went on and the trio jumped at seeing everyone.

“Didn’t expect this, did ya!?” Chaffy asked walking to Harry and slapping him on the back, then leaned over and kissed Becca.

“This is great!” Vero exclaimed, excited.

“Ron, Hermione?” Harry said feeling surprised to see his two friends here.

“Hello!”

“Nancy told me about this party the last time we were here, so we exchanged numbers and she called me. I told Ron about it, so here we are a little before schedule.” Hermione said, She was glad to see Harry seemed happy to see them.

“Yeah, mate. Wouldn’t miss your party.” Ron said then he added in a hushed tone “Your Muggle friends are so cool!” he said and Hermione smacked him.

“RON! What did I tell you? Don’t act like a Wizard” She scolded him, hissing in a low voice and flicked his head.

“All right!” he scowled at her rubbing the spot where she had hit him.

“And don’t be drinking any Muggle beer… I don’t want to have to drag you home. This Muggle beer isn’t like Butterbeer” She said pointing to his unopened beer bottle.

“All right!” he hissed at her and scowled as he set the beer down on a table.

“This is great!” Harry said ignoring the fact that they were at it again and guided them to the living room, “I have all my best mates together.” He added.

More people were arriving at the party, and a blonde haired boy made a beeline to Hermione.

“Hello there.” He said, and she rolled her eyes. He had been after her last time but she wasn’t interested. His slick blonde hair reminded her too much of Malfoy, although he didn’t look like him.

“Joseph.” She said coolly then tried to ignore him but he didn’t seem to get the hints. Harry noticed Ron was fuming and while Hermione was not looking he grabbed a beer and fiddled with the opening. Someone told him it was a twist-off and helped him. Ron took a swig of his beer and glared at Hermione and the blond boy. Harry groaned; this was going to be some party.

Forty five minutes later Ron was out of his head and could no longer walk. Harry and Hermione were dragging him upstairs.

“I can’t believe him!” Hermione yelled.

“Yer ffsso pretty when yur angry,” Ron slurred at her. He had made the mistake of getting into a Muggle drinking game with Chaffy.

“Argh, I told you not to drink!” She said opening the door to Vero’s room.

“He’ll be fine, he just needs to sleep it off.” Harry rolled his eyes. He hoped Hermione wouldn’t start with her ranting. They hoisted Ron onto the bed and he immediately passed out.

“Well, well, well…” someone said behind them

“If it isn’t Ikkle Ronnikins.” the other voice added.

“Fred, George!” Hermione exclaimed when she saw them entering the room.

“What are you doing here?” Harry asked, surprised.

“Well, we heard all about this Muggle party for Harry so we had to come.” Fred said grinning.

“What if someone sees you?” Hermione asked, looking at their clothing.

“Don’t worry, we put a charm on, only Wizards and Witches and magical beings can see us or hear us. Looks like quite the party down there.” George responded.

“I should have known; only a Weasley twin would have pulled a prank like that!” Hermione scolded them. She was about to say more but was interrupted by Veronica.

“There you are!” Veronica said coming into the room. “Ron can’t hold his liquor, huh?” She asked smiling at seeing Ron on her bed. “Who are you?” She said, noticing the twins.

They all looked at her with surprise.

“You can see us?” The twins asked in unison and with surprise.

“Of course I can see you, I’m not blind!” She replied annoyed. “Harry, do you know these people?”

“Er, yeah… they’re Ron’s brothers.” he said dumbfounded. She was a Witch?

“Oh, why haven’t you introduced them to anyone!? You do look like Ron.” She said smiling at them. She then noticed that they were just staring at her.

“What?” She asked.

“You’re a Witch!” Fred blurted out.

“Excuse me!?” Vero asked shocked and they saw her bewildered angry look. She began screaming something in Spanish that they could not understand, but by the tone of voice they felt they probably didn’t want to understand, she then switched to English “Look, I don’t know who the hell you think you are to be insulting me…” She then stopped suddenly…

Everyone just stared at her confused. One moment she seemed angrier than the spawn of satan in hell the next she was shocked into silence, the colour drained from her face. “Did you say bitch?”

“No… he said Witch.” Hermione clarified.

Veronica had noticed the robes on Fred and George. She stared dumbfounded for a second then she exclaimed “Oh my GOD, you’re Wizards!” She said and pointed to the twins.

“We all are.” Fred replied in a puzzled voice, indicating everyone.

“WHAT!?” Vero turned to Harry. “You’re a Wizard! Why didn’t you tell me?” She asked, bewildered.

“I thought you were a Muggle!” He replied equally confused, “Why didn’t you tell me!?”

“I thought you were a Muggle!!” She answered back.

“How can any Witch think that Harry Potter is a Muggle?” George asked, perplexed and scratching his head.

“Why in the hell am I supposed to know Harry Potter is a Wizard? Is he famous or something?” She retorted annoyed, crossing her arms across her chest.

“You have got to be kidding me.” Fred retorted looking at her with wide eyes.

“Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of The Boy Who Lived? Have you been living under a rock all this time?” Hermione asked sarcastically, although she too had never heard of Harry Potter until the day she received her Hogwarts letter.

Veronica’s face went white with shock.

“You… You are The Boy Who Lived?” She asked, not quite believing it. Now she clearly remembered why that scar made her ponder about something she was supposed to know about it.

“So you know about me?” Harry asked now annoyed. Had she been playing him all along?

“I know of The Boy Who Lived, but I really didn’t remember his name!” She answered back defensively.

“How can you NOT know that The Boy Who Lived is Harry frigging Potter!?” George questioned unconvinced.

Vero’s face began to turn a dark shade of red, and she was so mad that she began to shake. “MY PARENTS REFUSED TO LET ME GO TO MAGICAL SCHOOL, INSTEAD I HAD TO GO TO MUGGLE SCHOOL DURING THE DAY, AND WAS HOME SCHOOLED ON MAGIC. I WAS TOLD THE STORY OF THE BOY WHO LIVED WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, BUT THAT WAS A LONG TIME AGO. I REALLY DIDN’T CARE EITHER, SO EXCUSE ME FOR NOT REMEMBERING THE FUCKING NAME. I DIDN’T KNOW MAGIC WAS THAT COMMON, I HAVEN’T EVEN LOOKED FOR ANYTHING MAGICAL SINCE I DROPPED FROM MUGGLE SCHOOL AND LEFT HOME! HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT HARRY POTTER, WHO WORKS IN CONSTRUCTION AND LIVES ON PRIVET DRIVE IS A WIZARD?!” She said now yelling in anger, and then turned to Harry. “AND YOU! YOU’VE BEEN LYING TO ME ALL ALONG!”

Now it was Harry’s turn to yell back, “YOU’VE BEEN LYING TO ME TOO!!!”

“Vero, Harry calm down…” Hermione pleaded. She had seen it when these two got into arguments and they were far worse than anything she and Ron ever amounted to. She had never before seen Harry fight with someone like that, not even her, not even last year when he was so short tempered.

“I HAVE NEVER MET SOMEONE WHO WAS A WITCH OR WIZARD WHO DIDN’T KNOW MY LIFE STORY, SO EXCUSE ME FOR NOT KNOWING YOU ARE A WITCH WHEN YOU DON’T ACT LIKE ONE!” He yelled.

Just then, Michael Dobsen, the man Lucy had invited to the party, burst into the room. He had his wand in his hand.

They all turned to face him and were shocked to see him carrying a wand.

“Downstairs. NOW!”

“Bloody hell…” Harry said noticing Michael’s wand and took out his own, and pointed it at him.

“DEMENTORS… swarms of them are coming this way! Get your wands out.” Donovan replied calmly as if it was some everyday occurrence but they had still all detected a certain panic in his voice.

Just then the lights began to flicker.

“Dementors?” Vero asked confused. “What are Dementors?” They didn’t have dementors in Central America. She moved to the bed and felt underneath the nightstand. Her wand was attached with a Sticking Charm.

“COME ON!” Harry said grabbing her arm and headed to the door.

“WAIT! We need to get Ron!” Hermione screamed and was going to turn around to go back for him, but noticed Fred and George were levitating him between them. They raced down the steps.

Expecto Patronum

Someone yelled from outside just as they came rushing down the steps. Harry noticed the people in the living room were all confused; some were screaming others were shaking bewildered as the lights flickered and dimmed and suddenly everything went dark. They could all feel a coldness creep upon them and images began to flash in their minds. Muggles could not see Dementors, but they could feel them.

“$#!&” Donovan cursed as he looked out the window.

“We have to help!” Harry screamed racing to the door. Only the wizards in the room could see the silver Patronuses trying to fight dementors outside.

“What is going on?” Becca asked, trembling in fear.

Donovan shot a spell at the door. “I can’t let you out there Harry! There are too many of them!” He said then turned to a wall and pulled out a piece of chalk, and drew a door, “Our best chance is to get out!” he said. “The Cell” He yelled at the door and the outline glowed green and a real door appeared. He then whipped his wand around and yelled “[i]Somnus[/i]!”

“IN HERE NOW!” He yelled opening the door and light streamed into the room from the room on the other side of the new door.

“What is that spell?” Harry asked watching his friends walk like zombies through the door.

“It’s a hypnotizing spell, only works on Muggles.” Hermione replied.

Donovan yelled, “Quit standing there, through here NOW!” He urged.

Fred went through the door with a passed out Ron levitated in front of him.

About twenty Dementors were now passing through the broken windows.

Expecto Patronum!” Harry yelled and a silver stag erupted from his wand.

Hermione conjured her otter and Donovan also yelled the incantation. A gigantic wolf erupted from his wand and joined the fight, along with the ones that Fred and George conjured as they returned from the other side of the door after leaving Ron passed out on the floor.

Donovan began ushering Hermione into the room, then the twins. He turned to Veronica, who was rooted to her spot in fear, her wand quivering in her hand. Dark Arts was a subject her parents had refused to let tutors teach her. She had never seen anything like this before, and she was trembling in fear. She slumped to the ground in a panic, trying to shut the voices in her head and the memories that were flooding in.

Harry had conjured another stag. He noticed Michael pick up Veronica from the floor and drag her into the room. Harry conjured yet another Patronus. “Harry, COME ON!” Donovan yelled at him. They were the only ones left in the room, and the Patronuses were beginning to fade.

Harry was almost passing through the threshold when he remembered his guard. “Patrick and Jane are outside!” He yelled.

“Harry, I’ll get them!” Donovan pulled Harry into the door and flung him to the people gathered then went back to the house and slammed the door which disappeared.

He turned around and saw more Dementors coming his way.

Expecto Patronum Armare.” He said pointing the wand to himself. He fervently hoped this Merlin damned spell worked or he was as good as dead! It had yet to be cleared as 100% safe to be published to the Ministry.

A silver orb enveloped him, creating a protective shield around him. The Dementors tried to break through the shield and fed from the energy of the orb. Donovan was relieved to see that indeed it worked but he could feel the drain in energy. He pushed his way, advancing through the swarm of Dementors. He muttered the spell again to reinforce his protection. The spell had recently been finalised and it had been tested successfully on three Dementors at once. Research was still yet to be done on the effects of a greater number of Dementors. It was hard enough trying to trap one Dementor and keep it captive without losing souls to them. Many times they were forced to destroy the Dementors in attempt to save the subjects. They currently only had three Dementors under their hands. Garrett will be pleased with my report, he thought sarcastically… if this thing didn’t fail and he made it out with his soul intact.

Donovan raced outside and found the bodies of Harry’s guards. He was too late, they had been Kissed already. He dragged the woman, Jane, towards the other man and picked up a rock. The Dementors were now all crowding around him, trying hard to break the shield.

Portus Untractus.” He said the spell for an untraceable Portkey and pointed his wand to the small pebble. The stone glowed blue and vibrated before lying still in his hand. He grabbed Patrick’s hand and pressed the rock onto his palm, then placed Jane’s hand on top of it. He conjured some binding, lashing their hands together against the Portkey, and with his wand tapped the hands. “One... two... three.” Donovan said and the two bodies disappeared.

Donovan created another Portkey for himself and thrust it in his pocket. There was no way that he would have an opportunity like this again, so he was going to try and trap all of them, or as many as he could. Donovan concentrated hard and after a few moments he levitated from the ground a few feet. The use of his magical energy to open a gateway to the Dementor holding cell was draining the power from the shielding orb. The Dementors crowded against him and renewed their efforts to break the shield when they sensed the spell weakening.

The tarmac directly under Donovan began to melt and to move in a circular fashion. A small hole began to appear in the centre and it began emitting a tiny bright golden ray of light which grew rapidly as a whirlpool expanded on the street. At the sight of this the dementors began to flee. Donovan felt the Patronus shield charm collapse around him as he grabbed onto the street lamp post and braced himself. The Dementors were too preoccupied with escaping to notice he was unprotected. Donovan felt as air began to be sucked into the whirlpool. The gust of wind was strong and Donovan held onto the pole with all his might as the swarms of Dementors began to be sucked in to the golden light emanating from the gateway. He screamed as pain engulfed him, the sheer number of Dementors passing through the gap was consuming his magical energy. Never had he attempted to trap so many Dementors at once and he hoped he could survive the attempt. He also tried to maintain his grip. He didn’t want to be sucked in with the Dementors or when he came to the other side he would be defenceless. The Dementor holding cell was no place for a Wizard.

“Holy Merlin!”

Donovan heard someone scream from a distance, although how he heard it, he was not sure. The noise streaming from the portal, in addition to the horrible screams from the Dementors, was drowning all other sounds. He prayed that no one was stupid enough to get too close to be caught by the pull. Any muggle passing by the street would be buffeted by the wind, but they were not at risk of being sucked in, nor could they see anything except a man clinging to a light post. Magical beings on the other hand…

Donovan was drenched in sweat and felt the strength of his arms giving just as the last Dementor was sucked in and the tarmac whirlwind closed. The pavement returned to normal once more. Donovan fell several feet to the ground landing flat on his back. He had tried to lower himself down, but he had very little energy left. He turned his head and he could see a group of people running towards him. They had Apparated outside the anti-Apparition field. He recognised them immediately as being from the Order and Aurors from the Ministry. He didn’t wait for them to reach him. He put his hand in his pocket. One… two… three…, he formed the thoughts in his head and just as Remus was about to reach him, Donovan felt the familiar pull on his navel and disappeared.


Chapter 10: A Story through the Muggle Mind
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Chapter 10

A Story Through The Muggle Mind


“It was him. I’m sure of it!” Tonks said as they surveyed the house trying to find clues as to where the people had disappeared, or what had happened.

“Are you sure Tonks?” Kingsley asked again.

“Yes, Michael Dobsen, they met him at the café at noon today when I took over Jane’s lunch hour.”

“What else can you remember of him?” Dumbledore asked.

“He mentioned something about being an archaeologist and worked with some Ian at the museum nearby where Harry works,” she said recalling the conversation earlier that day.

“I think he’s the man from the train station as well.” Lupin offered, “I recognised his scent,” he added noticing the ‘are you sure?’ expression in Tonks’ face. His werewolf senses were much more advanced than regular humans.

“Do you suppose he is wearing one of those silicone masks again?” Tonks wondered.

“We may never know,” Dumbledore replied. “Arthur, I need you to go to the Ministry and find anything you can on Michael Dobsen, but I doubt if that is his real name. Someone will have to check out this Ian at the museum and see if we can get any more information. Also, find out what Ian’s current work is,” Dumbledore said and Arthur nodded and Disapparated with a pop. The anti-Apparition field had been lifted.

Mad-Eye came into room again. “Nothing upstairs,” he declared.

“What was he doing with the Dementors?” Tonks asked “How could he trap them like that? Did he bring them here? This just doesn’t make any sense.”

“I am just as puzzled as you, Miss Tonks. I have never heard of an act as such.”

“Dumbledore, here!” Moody barked as he was examining the wall where Donovan had made the door.

“What is it, Alastor?” Dumbledore asked.

“I don’t know, but there is a residual trace of magic here,” he replied, pointing to the faded trace of the door outline that he could see with his eye.

Dumbledore pointed his wand and muttered something. Slowly a few small fragmented lines about an inch or two long began to appear at what appeared at first to be random. They were fading and shrinking. They were not connected and didn’t make sense at first.

“If you connect all the lines they make a rectangle,” Tonks offered; being the farthest from the wall made it easier for her to see.

“Yes, you’re right,” Dumbledore mused. “This mystery man must know of a way to create portals at command,” he added stroking his beard.

“But that’s impossible!” Moody barked.

“I am aware of that, Alastor.” Dumbledore replied.

Just then there were dozens of pops and the living room floor became littered with bodies. All of the Muggles had appeared out of thin air.

“What the…?”

****

The Order was back at headquarters. It had been five hours since the incident, and Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred and George, and that Muggle girl, Veronica, were still missing. The Order had interrogated all the other people who had been returned that same night, but all of them remembered the same thing: The party had been great and Harry and his friends had said goodbye and gone home. Veronica had left with Harry and would be back sometime. They searched to see what memories had been Obliviated, but the counter spell had revealed that nothing had been erased. It was very dangerous to try and break through an Obliviation spell; severe mental damage could result. The Order couldn’t figure how their memories had been changed, for they didn’t remember anything out of the ordinary. The encounter with the Order was Obliviated and the Muggles returned to their normal life and to bed. Dumbledore had been able to see in Chaffy that something else lurked there in his memories, so he had made arrangements with the Ministry for Chaffy to be interrogated further. He had made arrangements for everything, and right now he was waiting back at headquarters for his interrogator to arrive.

The fireplace glowed green and Snape stepped in through it. Tonks indicated for him to go up the stairs to a room where Dumbledore sat with a young man.

“Chaffy, this is Professor Snape, and he will be doing what I explained to you earlier,” Dumbledore said in a soft voice. Snape could see that the boy, Chaffy, was scared, but he nodded.

“Severus, I leave you to do your job. Please come and get me once you are finished,” Dumbledore said and turned to leave.

Snape sat on the other side of the table, and his face impassive, began to talk.

“All I need from you is for you to make eye contact with me. I will take care of the rest,” he said with his voice devoid of any emotion.

Chaffy nodded and looked at the intimidating man.

Legilimens,” Snape muttered, his wand pointed at Chaffy under the table.
Snape began to flip through an array of images, the Muggle mind very weak to his skill, there was no resistance from the boy to stop what he was doing and Snape was glad for it made things easier. He could almost browse his thoughts like a book. Finally, he found the recent months with being friends with Harry. Snape had meant to block some of these images, but had peered at a few of them in which Harry was hard at work in this Muggle construction business. Mmph. He thought to himself, but then fast forwarded to the night before.

Snape saw the images the poor kid had relieved after feeling the effects of the Dementors, while he was still conscious of what happened around him. But he could not see anything, apparently the young man had his eyes shut, but he could hear the voices around him. Snape ignored the memories being brought on by the Dementors and focused on everything recorded by the subconscious. He could hear everything that had transpired in the living room until a man muttered a spell.

“Somnus.”

Suddenly, all of the memories tormenting Chaffy disappeared and as Chaffy stood and opened his eyes, Snape could see the stranger standing in front of a door that lead to a very large and somewhat dark room. This man must be Michael Dobsen. Snape thought to himself.

“IN HERE NOW!” The man shouted, and Snape saw all the Muggles walk through the door as Chaffy followed behind someone. Snape was puzzled by this, as there was clearly no conscious memory to do so, yet Chaffy was clearly walking to the door, and onto the other side.

“What is that spell?” Harry asked from somewhere behind Chaffy.

“It’s a hypnotizing...”

Snape was able to hear part of the screams and shouts until a door was slammed and the room was quiet.

“Are you all right?” Hermione asked helping Harry to his feet.

“Yeah.”

“Where are we?” Snape now could hear Harry as he asked from somewhere around. To Snape, it seemed that all of the Muggles just stood there without moving, and without comprehending anything. He recalled they were still hypnotized.

“We’re trapped!” George answered. “I’ve tried to Apparate, but I can’t!”

“Lumos,” Hermione said and watched as her wand didn’t light up. “This room must render our magical abilities useless,” she commented.

“I don’t see any doors around,” Fred said from somewhere.

“At least we seem safe for now,” Hermione said and went to Ron. “He’s still passed out,” she said, irritated.

Snape couldn’t see much because Chaffy didn’t move about, he simply stood staring blankly at one of the walls.

There was a crack and a sudden gush of air and a small scream of surprise from the dark haired girl.

“What was that?” Fred asked.

“Look, there’s a foot there!” George exclaimed. There was some noise from those in the room, gasps could be heard and there was something being said, but it was all outside Chaffy’s view. Hermione’s voice broke above the others.

“It’s Patrick and Jane!” Hermione gasped pulling the Invisibility Cloaks from them.

“They’ve been Kissed,” Fred said after trying to rouse them.

“Oh no…” Hermione breathed unable to speak any more. The others were grim as well.

“What happened?” Veronica asked in low voice after a while.

Snape heard hushed voices and Ron muttering in his drunken stupor. It seemed Harry was explaining some things to the Muggle girl. Then it hit Snape, the Somnus spell was supposed to work on Muggles, yet Veronica was not affected. She was mostly out of his field of vision, and all he could see was her dark hair and part of her face. She must be a witch, then. After a few more exchanges within the group someone said: “Once they’ve been Kissed. There’s nothing we can do.” There seemed to be a long silence after this.

“Are they going to be alright?” Fred asked waving a hand in front of Chaffy’s face.

“Should we remove the spell?” George asked.

“We can’t,” Hermione interjected, rolling her eyes.

“Right.” George replied remembering.

“And if we could, I am not sure if we should, or we would have to Obliviate their memories, and I don’t want to mess with that. The Ministry should be here to take care of what happened tonight. The Order must know too… I hope,” she said looking hopeful for a bit.

“Don’t you think that we should have received something from the Ministry about underage use of magic if they knew?” Harry asked, hugging Veronica. Seems that the boy has some brains, Severus retorted mentally.

Hermione and Harry looked at each other.

“You’re right! There should be someone here to confiscate our wands!” Hermione said in a panic.

Ron groaned and mumbled, “Oh no, I broke it... Mum’s going to kill me.”

“What are you on about?” Fred asked.

“It means that if we haven’t heard from them yet is because no one knows where we are!” She shrieked.

Just then there was a loud crack.

“Michael!” Harry exclaimed. This confirmed to Snape that Michael Dobsen was with them.

“Is everyone alright?” Michael asked from somewhere.

“Yes!”

“Where are we?”

“What is going on?”

They all asked at once.

“Accio wands!” Michael yelled and all of the wands flew neatly into his hands.

“What…?”

“How…?”

“I’m sorry Harry, but it has to be this way. Now, huddle closer,” His voice added sternly, and Snape now could see as Fred, George, Hermione, Veronica and Harry stood closer around Ron just to the left of Chaffy’s vision. They were glaring confusedly at Michael. Michael came in to view on the right.

Michael waved his wand and muttered something and a large cage appeared around the group, trapping them. They began to voice their complaints, but he put a silencing charm on the cage. Snape could see them yelling and ranting, but no sound could be heard. He was rather enjoying the scenes before him. Dobsen seemed to be using some tactics that Snape would consider appropriate to use with those Gryffindors. He saw Michael pocket all of the wands. He pulled out a silver box and placed it to his ear.

“Sir, there has been a situation. I was forced into using magic.” Michael spoke to no one and waited for a response.

“Dementors,” he said after a while. To Snape it seemed that he was talking to the little silver box.

“Yes, two of them. They are from the Order, Harry’s guard. None of the teenagers are harmed,” Michael added, then he was quiet listening. Snape thought that it must be a communication device of some sort, but who was he communicating with? Snape knew of no Death Eater who used such form of communication.

“Yes. I was forced to bring all of them. Yes. At The Cell. No. Fifteen muggles, Sir. The Ministry? I used the flo… I see, Sir. No, I used an untraceable one with the guards,” Donovan paused and seemed to be cursing himself. “I can go immediately and clean… yes Sir. Thank you, Sir.”

“Yes, he’s here. Ron and Hermione as well and the Weasley twins. One more. No. I don’t know. I thought she was Muggle, Sir. Yes. The hypnotizing spell. Yes. Are you sure, Sir? The anti-Apparition field is off? But Sir… that may be traceable... It has not been tested. Preliminary trials proved to be untraceable, yes, but sir… the risk… No, I can handle it. What about the guards? Should I take them to St. Mungo’s? I will inform the Research Hospital. Half hour. Yes sir,” Donovan said and pocketed the little silver device.

Donovan turned to the group of Muggles. “When I snap my fingers you will fall asleep. When you wake up, you will be back at the house and you will remember nothing that happened since just before the lights began to flicker. You will remember that Harry, Ron and Hermione left around midnight, and Veronica left with Harry. She will be back sometime. You have said goodbye to all of them. You will not remember any of the unpleasant memories,” he spoke clearly and snapped his fingers.


Chaffy snapped out of the reverie and fumbled forward and retched into a bucket that had been placed next to him for him to use. He was sweating profusely, and stared wide eyed and in fear as he remembered all of the memories that Snape had brought back to him.
Before he could speak, Snape smirked and muttered a spell to alternate his memory about this whole ordeal and left him to get Dumbledore.

“Very well Severus. Your information leads me to believe that it is not Voldemort who is behind Harry’s disappearance, but it seems to me that he was behind the Dementor attack. I am afraid that this new information will not help us solve our problem, but there might be some clues. You may return to your duties, Severus.” Dumbledore said and Snape walked out of the room. Albus noticed Chaffy sitting, staring idly at the wall. He smiled and guided the youth downstairs for his escort to take him back to his home after Obliviating his memory. Dumbledore left Grimmauld place to search for those clues as to where Harry and the others had been taken.


Chapter 11: Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire
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A/N Thanks to everyone that has read this so far! I would really love to hear your opinions on this story. I accept criticism of any kind! Thanks again, and please review.


Chapter 11

Out of The Frying Pan Into The Fire.


“QUIET!” Hermione screamed to calm the group. “Look, he’s got a mobile phone…” She again hushed them.

“A mobile what?” Ron asked.

“It is like a Muggle regular telephone only wireless. Now shut up.” Hermione hissed again. The six of them quieted down and they could see Michael as he spoke into the little silver box. Thousands of questions were racing through Hermione’s mind. How could he use Muggle technology in a place where there was magic? Was the mobile phone a magical item? Why did he seem to have control of this room, while their magic had failed them?

The group saw him talking to the hypnotized Muggles. After he had snapped his fingers, all of Harry’s friends fell to the ground. Donovan then muttered some things, pointing his wand to the group. Harry and the others watched as he tapped his wand on one of them and all fifteen Muggles disappeared. He pulled out the mobile phone again and dialled a number.

“I have two subjects for Dr. Ranodoll. Ok, in five minutes.” He said and pocketed the mobile phone again.

He then turned his attention to the cell where the group was incarcerated. He took off the Silencing Charm.

“Your friends have been returned to the house and they will be fine. I believe the Order is there now.” He said as he walked closer. “I must leave you here for now, your guards have been Kissed by Dementors and I must take them… somewhere. This room is charmed to give you anything you want except for a way to escape. You will also find any attempt to contact the outside futile, so I suggest you make yourselves comfortable. I will be back in a few hours.” Michael exclaimed and raised the Silencing Charm once more and headed to a wall.

He pulled out something from his pocket and began to draw a rectangle on the wall. They hadn’t paid much attention to this while in the midst of a Dementor attack, but now they were curious to see what Michael was doing. He drew the rectangle with what appeared to be chalk, and a door knob, and spoke something to it. The lines glowed green and a door appeared. Donovan opened the door and they could see that it had opened to a bright white hallway. Donovan crossed over and closed the door and it disappeared. Moments later the door appeared again and opened and Donovan came back, with several people rolling two hospital beds. They were dressed like Muggle nurses, and they lifted the bodies of Jane and Patrick each onto a bed, then they wheeled them out through the door. Hermione had been able to spy through the door and saw more nurses, doctors and the room on the other side appeared to be a room in a hospital.

Donovan and a male nurse exchanged some words, and then Donovan returned to the room, closed the door and it disappeared. He waved his wand and the cage disappeared, freeing them.

“I will be back.” He said and disappeared with a loud crack.

“Have you tried to Apparate again?” George asked Fred.

“I don’t have a wand,” he said and frowned, since obviously Michael had just Apparated, but he had tried as soon as they had arrived here and nothing had happened.

“What do you suppose was that all about? Who was he talking to? And where did they take Jane and Patrick?” George asked now feeling the wall where the last door had appeared.

“And how can he make a door appear like that?” Ron asked, he wasn’t feeling the best after having too much to drink and his head still spun a little.

Harry didn’t say anything and simply held Veronica who seemed distraught by all of this.

“Do you think this is You-Know-Who’s doing?” Fred asked.

“I don’t think so,” Hermione replied.

“What makes you say that?” Harry asked.

“Think about it, this isn’t the way he works. Also, think of the conversation Michael had on a mobile phone. That’s a Muggle object, and Death Eaters don’t use those. Although I’m not sure how he can make it work with all this magic around. As well as that, he’s not used one Unforgivable and all those Muggles weren’t killed, I think. So no, I don’t think V-Voldemort is behind this.” Ron, Fred and George flinched at his name. Hermione simply continued. “Although I think he might be behind the Dementor attack.” She said.

“Then who is behind Michael?” Ron asked.

“I don’t know.” She replied.

“So what do we do now?” Harry asked.

“Nothing for now.” Hermione said and shrugged. “I can’t think of anything we can do, and I believe Michael when he says that it will be of no use to try and leave.”

“I wish at least we had a nice comfy chair to sit on.” Ron groaned as he lowered himself to the ground.

Suddenly a bright red armchair appeared right underneath him and he jumped.

“What the bloody hell?” He said as whirled around to look at the chair.

“You said you wanted a comfy chair.” Fred smirked at him.

“How did you do that?” Ron asked looking at his brother.

“I didn’t.” Fred replied.

“Didn’t Michael say that this room would give us what we wanted? Maybe it is like the Room of Requirement?” Hermione offered.

“Mmmm.” Fred said. “I reckon you may be right Hermione. Let’s try it: I am hungry and I wish I had a ham sandwich.” He voiced aloud. Instantly a table appeared with a plate holding a large sandwich on it.

“Wow.” He breathed.

“I wish for a Butterbeer.” George now said and one appeared on the table as well.

“Come on, wish for something.” Fred encouraged and already was wishing for more food and drinks.

“I don’t think this is funny.” Hermione interjected.

“We don’t have anything to do but wait. Might as well make the best of it.” George added. Ron, for once was not eating. Hermione rolled her eyes.

“Well, I wish to know where we are.” She said but nothing happened.

“I guess that is probably something this room will not give out.” Harry said and helped Veronica to her feet. Harry wished for a comfortable sofa and sat down.

Hermione finally gave in and wished for a cosy fireplace, a chair and a book. Everyone groaned when Hermione began to read a book. Hermione wished to know what time it was, and a clock appeared on a wall. It was only 11pm. Michael hadn’t returned, and the twins were running out of things to wish for. Ron had passed out again in his chair, and Harry told Veronica more about him and his story as a Wizard. Finally, around 2am, and at Hermione’s urging, they all wished for beds to sleep in, and then they crawled into bed and tried to sleep. Hermione had argued that there was nothing better to do, and they should get some rest while they could. They didn’t know that one of the walls was a one way looking glass. An older man stood up from his chair. He had watched the youngsters for a while, particularly Harry. He turned around and left the monitoring room.

The next morning they all woke up and groaned as they realised that last night had not been a dream. They were still locked up in this room, and they didn’t know where to go or what to do. The Weasleys quickly decided that breakfast was in order, and soon a table had appeared full of food. They all sat and ate, with nothing else to do.

“I see you have made yourselves comfortable.” Michael said as he popped into the room through the wall, just like the barrier at King’s cross.

“Why are we trapped here?” Ron blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“It was for your own safety, I had to take you away from the Dementors, but I also can not let my identity and position be revealed. I had to make certain arrangements before I could come back to let you go home, but I need a moment with Harry first.” He said.

The group of young people jumped to their feet and crowded against Harry as if to protect him, although none of them had any wands on their person.

“Please, I mean no harm.” Michael said and pulled out his wand. “I need to speak with Harry, before I let him go.”

“You’re not going to take Harry.” Hermione said glaring daggers at Michael.

Michael nodded. “I don’t want to have to do this to you, but you leave me no choice.” He said and the group found themselves bound by ropes. Harry, on the other hand was left standing. Donovan approached him but stopped short a few feet from him.

“Let them go.” Harry demanded.

“I’m sorry Harry, but I can’t speak openly in front of them. This information concerns you only.” Michael said and Harry’s eyes widened as a wall came up and split the room in two. On this side only Harry and Donovan stood alone. The others were on the other side. Harry began to feel his palms become sweaty. He didn’t know who this stranger was, now he was alone with him, and he didn’t even have a wand with him.

“I have been instructed not to erase your memories, but to give you this.” Donovan said producing a piece of parchment from his robe pocket, and extending it to Harry.

Harry was weary of reaching for it. He didn’t trust things that could be used as a Portkey. Donovan approached him, and placed the paper in Harry’s pocket when Harry didn’t take it.

“I know how much you trust your friends Harry, but not everyone can be trusted. It will be best if you do not share this information with anyone.” Donovan said and motioned towards Harry’s pocket.

“HARRY!!!” Ron was screaming from the floor where he was bound.

“HARRY!” Hermione screamed as well, scared to death for Harry. For all they knew Voldemort had Harry now.

Harry could hear the muffled screams from his friends on the other side of the wall.

“Who are you?” Harry asked baffled by this man’s actions.

Donovan didn’t answer, but instead he created a Portkey and placed it on the table. He then pulled out all of the wands belonging to the group and set them next to the Portkey.

“This will take you back to whatever destination you pick, it is untraceable so do not bother to trace it back here. You say aloud the destination, grab a hold of each other and count to three. It was unfortunate that things happened this way, and I know you don’t believe me when I say I mean no harm to you or your friends. I had hoped for different circumstances but now I know it is not the time for me to explain things to you. I do promise you Harry, you will never come to harm from me. You will be seeing me again when you least expect me.” Michael said, and with a flick of his wand, the wall that separated him and his friends began to lower. The restraints on the others disappeared.

“Good luck to you Harry.” he said and disapparated as the wall lowered to the ground.

The group rubbed their sore wrists, and Hermione and Ron rushed to Harry.

“Are you all right mate?” Ron asked when he noticed Harry didn’t move.

Harry snapped from his thoughts.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Did he do anything to you?” Fred asked.

“No, he just said that he couldn’t explain things to me. It doesn’t make sense.” Harry refrained from mentioning the paper in his pocket. He was sure Michael was referring to someone in the group not being trustworthy. To Harry, this meant Veronica. Harry proceeded to explain what Michael had said about the Portkey.

“We should get back to the Order.” Hermione said drawing their attention to the Portkey.

“Do you think it’s safe?” Veronica asked.

“Only one way to find out.” George said picking it up.

“Should we go to Headquarters?” Fred asked the group.

“I don’t know; this could be some elaborate scheme to get the location of Headquarters. I say we go to the Leaky Cauldron.” Hermione replied. “We can take the Knight Bus from there, or Floo to the Burrow.” She added.

“Ok, everyone, grab onto each other.” George said to them, and then turned to the Portkey. “The Leaky Cauldron, London.” The Portkey vibrated then shone a bright blue for a few seconds before lying still in his palm. It was an odd shaped salt shaker that Donovan had conjured into a Portkey.

“Ready?” George asked and they all nodded “Keep your wands ready. One… two… three…” with a jerk, they all felt the familiar pull on their navels and the world swirled around in a swish of colours and air. A second later, they were all sprawled onto the floor of the old tavern.

Witches and Wizards gasped at the arrival of the youngsters, and the crowd murmured when they spotted Harry.

“We better get back to safety.” Fred murmured as a few of the Wizards didn’t look too friendly.

“We can go to the joke shop and use the Floo there.” George offered and the group set a quick pace through Diagon Alley. Soon they arrived at the store front of Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes and entered.

“Fred, George!” Lee Jordan shouted with surprise at seeing them arrive through the front door. “Your mother was asking last night if I knew where you were. I told her that you had gone to some Muggle party for Harry and she left here in a panic saying something about mortal peril! What is going on? Are you guys all right?” Lee asked. He had been hired by the twins to manage the joke shop when they were away on Order business, or when they had to take time to work on new inventions.

“It’s a long story, but right now we need to get Harry back to safety.” Fred said then guided the group up to the office to use the fireplace.

“What about Veronica? She doesn’t know the location.” Harry asked them.

“Right, let’s go to the Burrow then, I will go to Headquarters and alert them.” Fred responded. “Harry you go first.”

Harry pinched a bunch of Floo powder and just as he was about to throw the dust into the fireplace, the entrance to the joke shop was blasted with a loud bang, and a crash.

“DEATH EATERS!” they heard from the other side of the wall, followed by screams from customers. Jets of different colours glowed through the crack of the door outline as a few brave customers tried to fight against the Death Eaters.

“GET DUMBLEDORE!” George yelled at Fred. Fred disapparated to headquarters that same instant.

“LEAVE TO THE BURROW NOW!” George yelled to the teenagers then rushed outside into the main store room. He stunned two Death Eaters that were not aware of him yet. There was one already on the floor stunned by Lee Jordan before the other two had knocked Lee unconscious. But another caught sight of him, and George found himself duelling with him. He narrowly missed the Killing Curse, and he scrambled on the floor to get away. More Death Eaters had arrived and George was outnumbered 8 to 1, now that Lee lay unconscious on the floor. All other Wizards were cowering in fear; those who had fought had either been killed or were injured badly.

“Where is Potter?” One of the hooded masked figures asked George after another Death Eater had blasted the young man against a wall with a disarming spell.

“You’ll never get to him.” George replied ignoring the pain of his broken ribs.

“Tsk, Tsk. Watch your tone, blood traitor!” The man sneered… “I guess I have to teach you a lesson. Crucio.”

George screamed as the curse hit him full force on the chest. He contorted in pain as he felt as if his insides were being ripped apart.

“Search the place.” The man ordered the others, and three of them headed to the little office upstairs.

“I will ask one more time. Where is the boy?”

George lay panting on the floor, but looked up bravely only to glare at the coward behind the mask.

Crucio!” The man yelled again, and screams of agony erupted from George as the man laughed insanely.

“STUPEFY.” Came cries from somewhere and immediately four of the five Death Eaters left in the room collapsed to the ground. The other three had been stunned as they had entered the office to find the four teenagers there. There was only one left.

The Death Eater who had been torturing George spun around to face the four teenagers.

“You’re outnumbered.” Harry yelled, his voice hiding the fear in his pounding heart. All four kept their wands trained on him, although Veronica could barely keep a hold on hers.

The man laughed “You can’t do anything against me.” The man laughed and sent a curse flying toward Harry.

Harry blocked the spell with a Protego as Hermione and Ron countered at the same time with stunners. The Death Eater crumpled to the floor unconscious.

“George!” Ron exclaimed and ran to bloody mess that was his brother.

“Hermione, let’s gather the Death Eaters before they regain consciousness.” Harry said and the two of them levitated all 11 Death Eaters into a group. They placed a full body bind on them, and stunned them all again. The implications of what she had done hit Hermione suddenly. [i]Oh no.[/i] She thought and expected a Ministry official to suddenly appear and snap her wand in two.

Just then, several Ministry Aurors as well as members of the Order appeared with several pops. They all were surprised to find the struggle over. Eleven Death Eaters were bound in the middle, with Harry pointing his wand at them. Ron tending to George, Hermione was reviving Lee; while Veronica had slumped to the ground in shock after her adrenaline had worn off. Other Wizards were helping with the other customers who had been injured as they had attempted to fight.

“George!” Fred exclaimed as he rushed to his twin.

Molly passed out from her shock, and Remus caught her.

“Well done, son!” Moody growled to Harry as he headed to the stupefied men and women and conjured silky black cords to bind them, and then stunned them again as a precaution. Harry had taken their hoods off. He didn’t recognize any of the Death Eaters.

Just then, Ministry owls flew in dropping letters onto Ron, Harry and Hermione. Harry groaned as he tore his letter open. It was to expel him from Hogwarts for his multiple violations for the second time in 24 hrs. Hermione gasped as she read hers. Ron hadn’t even bothered to open his; he refused to leave George’s side as Dedalus Diggle gingerly levitated him onto a stretcher.

“We need to take them to St. Mungo’s.” Kingsley announced and conjured stretchers for the rest of the injured, and Order members began to take them to the hospital. Molly had to be taken to St. Mungo’s as well because she was hysteric.

Just then Ministry officials came to the store and headed towards Harry, Ron and Hermione who now stood together, fidgeting nervously.

“Surrender your wands.” A man said pointing his own wand towards them. “By decree number…”

“Put a sock on it!” Moody barked at the man. “You are not taking their wands away, not if Dumbledore has anything to say about it.”

“They have broken the law and have been expelled from Hogwarts. I have been sent to confiscate and break their wands.” The man responded back, although he was intimidated by the old Auror.

“But they just saved our lives!” A young Witch interrupted jumping from the small group of people that had been shopping right before the attack. They were being interrogated.

“Yeah! If they hadn’t used magic we would all be dead.” An older man said clutching his daughter madly to him.

Murmurs rose from the small crowd protesting the actions. Several things were shouted over. “I will sue the Ministry!” “I will file a complaint!” “Their use of magic can be excused!” The people moved to stand between the Ministry officials and the three teenagers. Moody smirked as he watched, and Harry, Ron and Hermione were all dumbfounded by the reactions of the small group of people.

The man was overwhelmed by the response. He didn’t know how to act.

Several owls swept into the shop again with letters for Ron, Hermione, and Harry, and also to the Ministry official. The three young people sighed with relief, while the man frowned as he read his letter.

“Very well. I will not take your wands today, but you are required to appear in court for your actions on August 30th.” The man said and spun around on his heels, the other Ministry officials leaving with him.

As the Aurors and members of the Order straightened out everything and interrogated the witnesses, the four youngsters were led to the office by Remus.

“Let’s go back to headquarters.” He said guiding them towards the fireplace.

“Veronica doesn’t know the location. We can’t take her there.” Hermione reasoned.

“Let’s go to Hogwarts then, we’ll be safe there.” Remus said and the group disappeared through the fireplace.


Chapter 12: A Riddle In Our Midst
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Chapter 12

A Riddle in Our Midst


They group passed one by one and appeared in the teachers’ common room.

“Why don’t you head to Gryffindor Tower and I will come get you when Dumbledore gets back,” Remus said and Harry, Ron, Hermione, with Veronica following, left the staffroom.

The foursome walked the hallways, and up the steps to the seventh floor where the Gryffindor entrance was. Veronica had admired everything as they walked, gasping in awe and surprise at what she saw. She had grown up in a Muggle estate, and even after receiving personal tutelage in magical studies, she had never set foot in a magical place before.

“So, where are you going to go to school then? Are you going back to Nicaragua?” Hermione asked as they sat on the sofas in the common room. They were reluctant to discuss the events of the night before and since as they would probably have to recount everything to the Order soon.

“Actually, I’ll be going to school in Honduras, it is called IMHEMCA, it stands for Institute of Magic, Witchcraft and Muggle studies of Central America, in Spanish, of course. It is both a Muggle school and Wizarding school,” Veronica answered.

“How can you have both in one?” Hermione asked wondering.

“You see, in Honduras they only go to Muggle school in the morning or afternoon. They start usually at 7 am and classes are over at 12, or you can go in the afternoon, from 12 to 1,” Veronica replied casually.

“Half a day! Why can’t I go to school in Honduras!?” Ron asked not quite believing it.

Hermione ignored him and asked, appalled: “How can you learn anything in that short amount of time!? Do you only take 2 classes a day?” She could not quite believing it.

“Well, actually, I have 7 Muggle classes per day.”

“Seven? I can’t believe it,” Hermione said crossing her arms.

“That’s a lot of classes!” Harry exclaimed. He had attended Muggle School before Wizarding School and he knew about high school and stuff, but he didn’t recall them having to take so many classes.

“So classes are only 40 minutes long? Don’t you have any time between? How in the world do you get your books for class?” Hermione asked looking at the schedule Veronica had drawn up for her to see.

“Well, the school I went to we didn’t switch classrooms. A year will stay in one room all day, and it is the teachers who switch. So you just leave your books for the day by your seat.”

Harry and Ron both imagined if they were stuck in one room all day, without any break in between. They shivered involuntarily.

“I rather like that idea then you don’t waste time and can go from learning in one class right into the other,” Hermione added noticing their thoughts. Harry and Ron both rolled their eyes.

“Of course not all schools are the same, and this part,” she said pointing to the schedule, “is pretty much how it was when I went to Muggle School during the morning. I then went home and got tutored privately on magical classes in the afternoon. The school I will actually attend has both: Muggle studies in the morning and magic classes in the afternoon,” Vero said as she picked up the page again and began scribbling on it. “This will be my afternoon schedule,” she said handing the paper back to Hermione.

“You have to take all those classes?” Hermione asked surprised and a bit impressed.

“No, I don’t have to, but that’s what I could sign up for. I took this test when I got accepted for placement, and these are the classes that I could qualify for. I wanted to take Spell Research too, but it is only offered at the same time as Defence Against the Dark Arts IV review, and I have to take that one so I can take Defence Against the Dark Arts V class. Like I said before, my parents didn’t let me learn Defence Against the Dark Arts, so I am way behind in that subject.”

“So, you’re going to be a fifth year?” Harry asked seeing the schedule. She was seventeen years old, but she had dropped out of school the year before. He thought that maybe they started school later there than here.

“Fifth year there is the same as seventh year here,” Veronica answered.

“Really? How does that work?” Hermione wondered.

Vero tried to explain.

“How can you start at third year level without learning first and second year stuff?” Ron asked puzzled.

“Well, magic school starts compared to third year level here, but in Central America every witch or Wizard is required to have what’s called Primary Studies, it starts when you are 10 until you attend Wizarding school. You can go to a school for that, but some people are just home schooled. So in those first years we learn what you learn in school here.”

“How can you learn magic before 11 years old? What about underage magic?” Harry asked her.

“We actually don’t have an age limit once you start your primary studies. The only thing we can’t do is Apparate until we’re 18 years old. So there really is no such thing as underage magic, except when you are younger than 10, but then, you can’t get a real wand for someone so young. They get toy wands, and can’t do much magic. Wands in Central America are made so only those 10 yrs and older can use them, and even if they did have underage magic restrictions, is not like the Ministry there can really keep track of it all,” she replied offhandedly.

“That’s why you didn’t get an owl?” Hermione exclaimed. This answered something that she had found curious before.

Veronica nodded “Yeah, my wand isn’t registered in England,” she said shrugging her shoulders.

“That just doesn’t seem fair.” Ron pouted and crossed his arms.

“You can move to Honduras then if you want to use magic in the summertime,” Vero responded. They were silent for a while. Veronica yawned. “I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.”

“You can use the rooms in the dormitories upstairs if you’d like to take a nap,” Hermione offered and pointed to the girls’ dorms.

“Will you wake me up when it is time to leave?” Vero asked.

“Of course.”

“Coming Harry?” Vero asked and Harry blushed but shook his head. Hermione gave Harry a sideways glance but he avoided her eyes.

“Boys can’t get up the girls’ stairs. But I want to talk to Ron and Hermione for a while longer anyways. It has been a while since I saw them,” Harry said and Vero bent to give him a kiss on the cheek.

“All right, I will see you all later then,” Vero said and raced up the steps and entered one of the doors and closed it behind her.

“Isn’t such a coincidence that she turns out to be a witch?” Harry asked after turning back to his friends. Donovan’s words of caution had for the first time made Harry ask who Veronica was.

“About that Harry, I can’t help but feel a little suspicious,” Hermione said and gazed at Harry intently.

Harry nodded and frowned. Hermione would have thought that of course.

“I mean, she turns out to be a witch, while all this time she pretended to be a Muggle? And I don’t know if I believe her that she knew nothing about you being a Wizard and all,” she said not relenting her gaze from Harry. Ron just stared at her surprised, but the more he thought about it the more he thought that perhaps Hermione was right.

“Hermione has a right to be suspicious of Miss Machado,” a gentle voice came from behind the trio.

The three of them turned their heard to see their headmaster standing behind them.

“Professor! We didn’t hear you come in,” Hermione said a bit startled.

“What do you mean she has a right to be suspicious?” Harry asked glaring at Dumbledore. Was he hiding something from him yet again?

Dumbledore circled around the sofa and sat across the coffee table on the overstuffed chair. He had a book in his hands.

“When you first met Veronica, remember when you brought a Muggle picture of the both of you to the Burrow?” Dumbledore said.

Harry nodded.

“You forgot the picture there and I happened upon it one evening while visiting Arthur. I immediately recognised her face, and I was worried about the resemblance with someone I knew from many years before; someone who disappeared without a trace. So I asked for a favour of a friend of mine in the British Consulate in Nicaragua. I found out that her parents are Ramon and Maria Machado. I then gathered information that Maria had a maiden name of MonteNegro.”

He placed a photo album onto the coffee table and opened it to a page. The three of them leaned over to see a picture of some seventh year students. Harry immediately recognised a boy in the midst of the other students. He was staring directly at Harry from the portrait. Even then his eyes held malice as he looked about the picture.

“That’s Tom Riddle!” Harry exclaimed.

“Yes, this is my personal collection of pictures from every class since I’ve been here at Hogwarts. These are the 1944-45 pictures and this picture is from his last year here at Hogwarts. But that isn’t the picture I wished to show you. Look at this picture on this page… these are the first year students of that year,” Dumbledore pointed.

The trio scanned the picture and Hermione gasped. She pointed at one raven haired girl waving happily back at them. “That looks like Veronica!” The other two looked down to where Hermione pointed to see the mirror image of the girl.

“This girl’s name is Maia Montserrat Black, and, like Andromeda and Sirius, she’s another Black to be placed in a house other than Slytherin. Sirius was, as you know, a Gryffindor, but Maia was in Ravenclaw.”

“But what does she have to do with Veronica?” Hermione asked, although her mind had an idea of where Dumbledore was going with this.

“Maia’s parents and her sister, Electra, were some of the first to join Voldemort’s Death Eater ranks, and three years after Maia left Hogwarts she was forced by her parents into secret marriage with Voldemort himself.”

Hermione gasped. Harry was too shocked to speak, so Dumbledore continued.

“Voldemort wanted a son, for he needed his blood for a ritual rumoured to grant immortality, and Maia was going to give one to him. One year later, she gave birth, but to a girl. Voldemort killed the baby, for he needed a son, an only child.”

“A few years later, Voldemort killed the Riddle family, and kept Maia a prisoner. Nobody knew she was his wife, and everyone assumed she was only another of his mistresses. For many years he never touched her again, and she remained by his side. Something happened in the early sixties that caused Voldemort to want a child again. It had to be a boy as well, and Maia became pregnant several times only to have the babies murdered for they were all born females.”

“Maia was forced to remain with him, and although she appeared loyal to her husband, she, in-fact, was working against him. Thwarting his plans and always making it appear as if it were us, The Order, who did it. Many Death Eaters were disposed by Voldemort under beliefs of treason, all cunningly master planned by her alone, without any help.”

“It wasn’t until 1978, when she became pregnant again, that she came to me and revealed her works within Voldemort’s circle. She feared that her baby once again would be a female and she wanted this child to live, but there was no way for her to save her if she was born. So I helped her escape; I never knew where she fled, and to my relief, Voldemort never found her.”

“I have now discovered that Maia Montserrat Black changed her name to Maria MonteNegro and married Edgardo Machado. So you see Harry, Veronica is Voldemort’s daughter,” Dumbledore finished his speech and sat back. The twinkle in his eyes was gone, for this situation was severe.

“No, it can’t be!” Harry said standing up, alarmed. The girl he had liked and was beginning to have strong feelings for was the daughter of Voldemort!? Harry felt so betrayed. He had already begun to suspect her, but never would he imagine that she was his daughter!

“So she knew who I was all along?” Harry asked. Somewhere deep inside he had wanted his suspicions to be false; he did not want to believe it. But in the back of his mind he realised that the Dementors would know where he was, because she knew where he was if she was in contact with Voldemort.

“I don’t know Harry. She may know part of the truth, but not all of it. I have come to question her…”

“What is going on?” Veronica asked now coming down the steps. She had heard Harry yell and she had come out to see what was going on. She spotted the old Wizard dressed in olive green robes gazing up at her curiously, but his features held a grim expression.

Harry whirled around to face her. “Tell me you didn’t know who I was before Friday night,” Harry said almost pleading.

“What?” She replied confused.

Before Harry could reply, Dumbledore stepped in, “Miss Machado, in light of recent information, I am in urgency to question you about your motives to come here to England,” Dumbledore said and looked at her piercingly.

Veronica stared open mouthed at him and tried to respond but was unable.

“Veronica, do you know what Veritaserum is?” He asked pulling a vial containing a clear liquid inside from his robes.

She nodded her head. “Would you be willing to be subjected to questioning under its influence? I must tell you that if you will not willingly agree, I will be forced to feed it to you regardless. I do, however, wish to do this with your cooperation,” He said not moving his gaze from her.

“Can I ask why is it important for you to know why I came to England?” She asked holding his gaze.

“I will only tell you that it is relevant to Harry’s and possibly your life,” he replied.

The three other teenagers stared at the exchange between Veronica and Dumbledore not quite sure they understood all of the subtleties behind their words.

Veronica turned to the people watching her, then to look back at Professor Dumbledore. She nodded.

“Very well,” Dumbledore said and asked her to sit down. She did and he then dropped three drops of the serum onto her tongue. No one had noticed Remus and Tonks enter the common room until they came around the couch. Tonks held a parchment and enchanted the quill to record the conversation. Remus stood guard nearby.

“Please state your name fully,” Dumbledore began questioning.

“Veronica Maria Machado MonteNegro,” She replied.

“Who are your parents?”

“Edgardo and Maria Machado.”

“Do you know who your real father is?”

Veronica was shocked and looked at the professor, but she couldn’t help when she answered. “No, I know my mother was pregnant before she met my father, but she never told me who my biological father was. All I knew is that she came from England,” How did he know about the fact that Edgardo was not her biological father?

“Why did you come back to England?” Dumbledore continued.

“After my parents were murdered I wanted to find my real father, so I came here in search of him,” she answered.

“Did you find any information about him?” He asked.

“No, I believed that my father must have been a Wizard like my mother after I couldn’t find anything in the Muggle world, but I had no idea how to get to the magical world. I figured I could at least contact the Ministry to search for missing relatives, but I didn’t know his name and when I sent a letter to the Ministry asking about my mother, there was no record of any Maria MonteNegro so I was at a dead end.”

“Did you visit the Ministry?” Dumbledore asked intrigued.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I met Harry, and I spent every free moment with him. I never got around to it, and… I was scared. What if I find out who my real father is and he wanted nothing to do with me? I put off searching for him for a while, but I never told anyone about it.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Harry interrupted.

Veronica turned to him “I never told you because you didn’t know I was a witch, and I didn’t know you were a Wizard. How could I tell you that I was looking for a Wizard who I thought were my father? Once, I made the mistake of telling a Muggle boy I liked about my magic abilities and the Central American Ministry had to intervene and Obliviate his memory because of his panic. I didn’t want you to react the same way. I really didn’t know you were a Wizard,” she implored for him to believe her.

“You never heard of Harry Potter?” Tonks asked.

“Yes, I did, once, when I was 12. I was studying European Magical History with my tutor, but I forgot about it. I remembered there was a boy called The Boy Who Lived, but I never bothered to remember his name. I was not allowed contact with the magical world in Nicaragua, so I am not familiar with what happens in the magical world. When I met Harry, I never imagined he was The Boy Who Lived. To me he was just a cute Muggle boy that I like,” she said and looked into her hands.

Harry was ecstatic. She had told the truth before!

Dumbledore motioned Tonks to finish the recording. “Very well Miss Machado, but now I am afraid I have to tell you some things that are going to be hard to accept…”

“You know who my father is, don’t you?” Veronica asked of him.

Dumbledore nodded and re-told the story he had just told Harry, Ron and Hermione, except it wasn’t as concise as the version he gave before. He had many more details about Maia’s life.

Veronica sat there for a while absorbing everything. Her tears had now dried up after hearing the horrible life her mother was forced to live with that monster.

“This Tom Riddle, this Voldemort, he is the same one that was defeated by The Boy-Who-Lived, like my tutor said, right?” She asked wanting to make sure. They nodded. She turned to Harry. She had just found out yesterday that he was The Boy-Who-Lived. So Voldemort, her father, had killed his parents.

“Oh Harry! I am so sorry,” she sobbed as she engulfed him in a hug. Harry was startled by her reaction. Here she had just learned that her father was a merciless murderer, responsible for the death of thousands of innocent people, he was now returned from the dead and he would probably kill her in the instant he knew she existed, yet she felt terrible for what he had done to him and his parents. Harry hugged her back, deeply moved. Veronica after a while regained her composure.

“Miss Machado, as you have already been told of the story of Voldemort and Harry, you know how important it is that Voldemort never learn of your identity. If he does not kill you he will use you against Harry because of your relationship with him. It will be best if you return to Honduras at once. I have already contacted the Headmaster at IMHEMCA about your situation, and he has agreed to grant you permission to stay there until the start of the year. You will be safer away from here. If anyone who might recognise you happens to see you, your life will be in danger,” Dumbledore warned.

“But… I don’t want to go yet! There are still two weeks before school starts!” She said as she clung to Harry.

“I am sorry, but this is the best… for you both,” Dumbledore replied. “I have arranged everything and you shall depart tomorrow morning. Remus will take you to a safe place now. Voldemort already knows about you and Harry, and that you are special to him, but he does not know who you are. You will go tomorrow morning to get your things and I believe Director Hernandez has notified your legal guardian,” Dumbledore said and turned to Harry. “I am sorry Harry, but you must understand, it has to be this way.”

Harry glared at Dumbledore, but there was nothing he could do. He didn’t want Veronica to leave, but the professor was right. If Voldemort found out about her true identity, he would kill her and now that he had found out about her relationship with Harry, he would use her against him before he killed her. Just like he used his godfather to get to him.

“Today! No, that’s too soon!” Veronica cried out.

Dumbledore stared at Harry. Harry closed his eyes and turned to Veronica.

“Vero, he is right.” He couldn’t believe he was doing this! “You must go and the sooner the better. I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you.” Veronica dissolved into tears. Harry turned to Dumbledore. “Will we be able to keep in touch?” He asked with hope.

“I am sorry, Harry,” Dumbledore shook his head. “It is best if you never contact Miss Machado again.”

Harry had to control the urge to lash out at Dumbledore, but he was right again.

“We shall give you a few moments to say good-bye,” Dumbledore said and motioned for the others to leave the pair alone.

Veronica continued to sob as Harry held her. Harry couldn’t believe that this would be the last time he would hold her. He was going to miss her terribly. He had been preparing himself for when she would leave at the end of summer, but he had imagined that they would continue their relationship through correspondence. He wasn’t naïve to think that they would ever see each other again, but in his mind he had envisioned their relationship dying out because of the distance, and in a gradual manner. Now she would be leaving in a moment. He didn’t know what to do, and he didn’t know what to say. So he clung to her, as she clung to him, desperate to memorise each other.

“Take me,” Vero whispered.

“What?” He asked since he barely heard her.

“Make love to me Harry, before I go. I want you to be my first,” she said as she pulled back and looked at him. “Please,” she said as she began to kiss him passionately.

Harry’s body responded, but he regained his senses. He pulled away from her and gently held her by the shoulders.

“Vero, I… I can’t do this. If I… if we… you, I… we will never be able to let go… and you must. I don’t want you to die Vero, and it will not be fair to take you. Not like this. You deserve to have a special night, not in a hurry and certainly not with someone who you will never see again,” he said cupping her face in his hands and kissing her tear stricken face.

“Oh Harry,” the distraught girl cried harder. She realised that Harry was right, but it didn’t help to make the situation better.

After a while, Remus returned to take her away. She asked Ron and Hermione to take good care of Harry; she then kissed Harry deeply one last time and hugged him. Her hug was definite with an air of good-bye. He felt that he may never see her again, and it pained him. She let go of him and ran out of the common room crying. Remus looked sadly at Harry, before he went after her.

Harry looked at his feet. Dumbledore came behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder. Harry brushed the hand away angrily.

“Harry,” Hermione called to him and tried to reach him.

“LEAVE ME ALONE!” He yelled back, then his voice dropped to a barely audible hoarse, “I want to be alone for now,” he said and the people in the room looked at each other.

Dumbledore nodded, and the group left Harry alone in the common room. Harry stared at the fire for the longest time after they left; he then closed his eyes and slumped to the couch and held his face in his hands. He wished Sirius was here, he needed someone to talk about things. Why did he have to lose the people he loved? He realised now that he was beginning to love Veronica, but she too was gone and it would be best if he forgot about her, for her own safety. He didn’t notice when he fell asleep.

Ron and Hermione later entered the common room and found him asleep. Hermione gently took his glasses off, while Ron brought a blanket out for him. They covered him up and each went to their rooms to sleep without another word.


Chapter 13: Of Letters, Parchments, and OWLs
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A/N: I know that Flying isn't a class that's taken beyond first year, and that a lot of things became canon after HBP came out. So now my story is an A/U and some things will be out of whack with canon. Please bear that in mind! And thanks for reading, I really appreciate your feedback.

Chapter 13

Of Letters, Parchments, and OWLs


Ron woke up the next morning and rubbed his eyes. Sunlight was streaming in through the window and it took a moment to realise where he was. He noticed the empty bed across from him and he bolted from his bed. He ran down the hall to the girls’ room and burst in. The events of the days before flashed in his mind, and he wondered if it all had been a dream.

“HERMIONE! You’re here too!” He exclaimed when he saw Hermione sleeping in her bed, in the other bed Ginny was sleeping. Both of them jumped at his voice.

“FRED!” They heard Mrs. Weasley scream as she was coming up the steps and had seen the twin running towards Hermione’s room. There was a scampering of feet, and a commotion. Doors were opening and closing, people were coming out of their rooms.

“MUM! Let go!” Fred’s muffled voice was heard as he tried to pry his mother from him.

Ron, Ginny and Hermione went to the hallway, and Mrs Weasley spotted them. The Healers had had to give her a strong sleeping potion the previous day as she was frantic with worry over George’s condition. She had been brought back to Grimmauld place the night before and was asleep when the youngsters had arrived from Hogwarts. She had just woken up.

“RON!! Hermione!” Mrs Weasley cried out and let go of Fred and enveloped the pair in a bear hug. “You’re all right. Thank goodness.”

“Mum! Let go. We can’t breathe!” Ron’s muffled voice pleaded. Molly let go of them and looked around.

“How’s George?” Ron asked his mother.

“He’s going to be fine. But I ought to kill you for going back into that danger,” she scolded him, then her features softened, “but I know if you hadn’t…. George…”

“It’s all right mum,” Ron said and hugged her back as she cried.

“Where’s Harry?” Ron asked her to change the subject.

“The Order took him back this morning to the Dursleys’ to get his things,” Molly answered wiping off her tears. “They should be back in a little while. I have made breakfast; you can help yourselves. I want to go back to St. Mungo’s and join your father and Bill. They stayed overnight. Don’t go anywhere, ok?” She said and hugged each of the children.

“Mum, I want to go with you,” Ginny said hopeful. Yesterday, Dumbledore had told her that perhaps it was best if she waited and that Molly was going to be brought here to Grimmauld place and she could use Ginny’s support.

“I know, dear. But George’s condition is still delicate. He isn’t allowed many visitors. I promise I will take you once the Mediwitches deem he is able to receive visitors,” Molly said to her daughter, and hugged her.

“I’ll accompany you,” Fred said to stop her before she hugged him. Molly nodded and he followed his mother. Hermione reached for Ginny’s hand and squeezed it for reassurance. Ginny watched her mother and Fred leave and wished they would let her go with them. Ron too wanted to go, but had been told the same thing. The three of them headed down to the kitchen for breakfast.

****

Veronica woke up in her room and reached next to her for Harry. When she didn’t feel him, she suddenly jumped from bed and remembered the events of the weekend. Remus had brought her early this morning to pack her things and leave. She had fallen asleep when she had finished packing. She came downstairs and found Chaffy and Becca with Nancy.

“Hey,” Becca said and smiled at her.

Vero remembered that they would not remember anything about Friday. “Hey,”

Becca came over to her and hugged her. “I came as soon as Nancy called this morning. I am sorry to hear about your aunt. I wish you didn’t have to leave so soon,” she said then added, “I’m going to miss you.” Veronica had made up a lie to explain her abrupt departure.

Veronica just nodded. “Thank you. I will miss you too.”

“When do you leave?” Chaffy asked.

“This morning. I packed everything already,” she said and played with her breakfast.

“Did you say goodbye to Harry?”

Veronica couldn’t answer; the lump on her throat prevented her from uttering any words. She only nodded.

Later that morning, Francisco, her butler from back home, arrived to get her things.

“Mi Niña (So good to see you).” The old man said in her native language, and embraced her warmly. He had been the family’s butler forever. He too was a wizard.

Remus arrived a few minutes later to oversee that everything went well. The small moving truck was loaded and left heading for the airport. Most of her things would be sent via air cargo. Veronica said a tearful goodbye to her friends and got into her car on the passenger side. Francisco was driving it for her. Remus approached before she left and handed her a letter that Harry had sent. She took the letter but didn’t open it.

Remus turned to Francisco “When you are out of the city limits, you can activate the transatlantic Portkey (which was actually the car). You will appear right into the school. Headmaster Hernandez is awaiting you,” Remus said. Francisco nodded, and started the car and began driving down the street.

****

When Molly and Fred had left, a gigantic red bird flew in through the window. It landed on a chair in front of Hermione.

Carta para Harry.” The bird said and spoke the swallowed words in its peculiar imitating speech.

“Wow, what did it say?” Ron asked.

“I think it means ‘letter for Harry’ in Spanish,” Hermione replied as she approached the bird, but the bird gave a loud screech and snapped at her fingers, making her cringe and back away from it.

Then the bird turned around in the chair, dropping its head low, and raising its 2.5 ft long tail out of the way so it could turn around, and he now faced Ron and Ginny. The bird seemed to survey them with interest. “Muluc. Me llamo Muluc. Muluc quiere beso,” he said and began to sound kisses.

Just then, the fireplace puffed green flames, as Dumbledore appeared. Other members of the Order arrived as well.

“I would like to hear everything about what happened in the last two days, in complete detail. I may shed some light into the identity of this mystery man, Michael,” Dumbledore said to the teens. He had been busy with Order business and the events of yesterday at the joke shop, and later about Veronica. He hadn’t had time to question them fully.

“Um, Professor, Veronica sent Harry a note,” Hermione said pointing to the red bird.

“What a magnificent bird!” Dumbledore exclaimed as he spotted Muluc sitting on the backrest of a chair. “I haven’t seen a Scarlet Macaw since I went on a vacation to Costa Rica several decades ago,” Dumbledore mused with a twinkle in his eyes.

Dumbledore approached him and to Hermione’s surprise the bird held the note out to him. Albus read the letter, and thought for a moment. “This is interesting…” He seemed to be lost in thought then conjured some parchment and with a self inking quill he wrote a note as a reply and approached the Macaw. The bird held out its foot to him.

Hola. Muluc lleva carta.” The bird croaked loudly.

“Dumbledore,” Albus said to the bird. It stunned everyone by repeating the name without a hitch. “These birds have an excellent mimicking ability,” Dumbledore said with a smile, then turned to the bird.

“Lleva la carta urgentemente,” Dumbledore said as he finished tying the note to its leg, and Muluc disappeared with a loud crack.

“That bird can Apparate?!” Ron exclaimed with shock.

“Yes, it’s similar to Apparating, but different. Some do have that ability when taught, just as some can imitate speech perfectly while others can’t. They are very rare, those that can Apparate, and they have to be taught from very young, and some believe them to be relatives of the Phoenix. Like the Phoenix they are very loyal,” Dumbledore replied as he looked through his half moon spectacles. His eyes held their usual twinkling.

The fireplace burst with green flames and Harry stepped into the living room, with several members of his guard following. Several minutes later, Remus walked through the fireplace.

Dumbledore turned and handed Veronica’s note to Harry.

Harry looked up hopeful “Does this mean…?”

“Yes, you and Miss Machado can communicate this way and only through the use of Muluc. I will teach you how to write a letter with a self destruction charm for protection in case it ever got into the wrong hands. Also, it will be best if you use an alias.”

Harry smiled for the first time since Veronica left yesterday. He felt a bit confused that Dumbledore would readily agree to Harry staying in contact with Veronica after he had been very strong about prohibiting him from doing so yesterday. He pocketed the letter, and felt the other piece of parchment that Donovan had placed in his trouser pockets. He had completely forgotten about it. He resisted the urge to pull it out right now, and instead turned his attention back to Dumbledore.

“Let’s go into the drawing room and await other members of the Order, for they too would like to hear what you have to say about what happened this weekend,” he said and ushered them out to the large drawing room up the stairs.

Dumbledore conjured additional seats to accommodate everyone. Remus, Tonks, McGonagall, Snape, Arthur and Fred Weasley, Shacklebolt, and Moody were all present as well as others. Molly was still in St. Mungo’s with George.

The members of the Order that were present listened intently as the youngsters related everything about the events of Friday night, and Saturday morning.

“You say that he uses a piece of chalk to create a door on the wall?” Moody asked not able to believe it.

“Yes, and he calls the location to where he wants to go, much like you do with the Floo,” Hermione answered.

“Could it somehow be connected to the Floo network?” Tonks asked.

“Why do you ask Miss Tonks?” Dumbledore inquired.

“Well, when I was at the Ministry yesterday I overheard a conversation between two workers from the Floo network department talking about a phenomenon that had happened on the system. They had been called in for an emergency to work over the weekend. It didn’t seem like they found anything serious, but they were making sure that no one had been trapped in the network. I didn’t give it much thought, but the events may be related,” She said shrugging.

“Arthur, would you investigate this incident with the Transportation Department, tell Glen that I am asking for this as a favour. He will accommodate you.” Dumbledore had turned to Mr Weasley.

“Certainly Albus, I’ll check into it when I return to work,” Arthur replied.

“Did you find anything on Ian and his work at the museum?” Dumbledore turned to Remus.

“I was able to speak with Ian in person, but he must know something for he seemed very reluctant to share information,” Remus relayed the information.

“Kingsley, any news on Patrick and Jane?” Dumbledore turned to the auror.

“No, they have disappeared, and even with our Auror locator we can’t get a signal or clue of their whereabouts,” Kingsley replied. “It seems that Michael Dobsen is well trained in the art of disguise and stealth. There are no clues to his whereabouts either. Not a single lead,” Kingsley added.

More questions were asked of the teenagers.

“Do you happen to have that Portkey anymore?” Albus asked Hermione.

“Yes, I saved it, but Michael said that it was untraceable,” she replied; she ran up to her room and returned with the salt shaker. She handed it over to Dumbledore. Dumbledore frowned at her words.

“Professor, do you know why Dobson would have kept us locked up then set us free?” Harry asked. He had remained very quiet throughout the whole time; everyone turned their attention to him.

“I am afraid not, Harry. What we do know is that Michael seems to know a great deal about you and he knows about the Order. Snape saw through Chaffy’s memories his conversation with someone via the use of a communication device. I believe Michael is involved in a sort of magical research since he spoke of tests for some of the magic he used, and some of the spells he used aren’t published or public knowledge. He also has taken Jane and Patrick to some sort of research hospital. We are trying as best we can to get any leads. His information about the museum is true, and we have posted guards to watch Ian, the curator, in case Michael visits him soon. It is apparent that Ian is a wizard, but he does not appear in the Ministry records. He is working on a magical artefact right now, but we don’t know what it is, or what it does. For now it is best to keep our watch. I will let you know as we learn more.”

The three teenagers left after a while when they were no longer needed and headed upstairs to Ron and Harry’s room.

Harry pulled out from his pocket the piece of parchment that Donovan handed him.

“What’s that?” Ron asked

“It’s a note that Michael put in my trouser pocket right before he let us go. I had forgotten about it until now,” he said as he began to unfold the paper.

“What does it say?” Hermione asked as they crowded around him.

“Vault 1406P. Ask for a key at the front desk,” he read the neat and elegant handwriting on the piece of parchment.

“That’s a Gringotts vault,” Hermione added.

“Maybe when we go to Diagon Alley to purchase our things in a few weeks you can look into it, at least find out who it belongs to,” Ron said.

“But why would Michael’s boss, or whoever told him to give you this, want you to go to this vault? Maybe there is something hidden in there, like the Philosopher’s stone was hidden! Maybe you shouldn’t go Harry,” Hermione cautioned, and then added, “should we say something to Dumbledore?”

“No!” Harry snapped. He shook his head. “I am not telling Dumbledore, or he will take this away and keep things from me again.” Hermione and Ron looked at each other. Harry looked at the note again. “I don’t know. This is such a puzzle. I think I will at least ask who the vault belongs to, if they can tell me such a thing then maybe we will talk to Dumbledore.”

****

Harry woke up very early out of habit. Today it was only Wednesday, August 21st. He sighed as he lay in bed unable to go back to sleep. He would have been getting ready to go to work; this was to be his last week. But because of what happened last weekend, Harry had been forced to quit his job earlier than scheduled. Now he was here at Grimmauld Place and it was still 10 days before school. He got up from bed, and headed downstairs to see if he could find something to eat. He found Mrs Weasley already up and about. The two spent a nice time just chatting, while Mrs Weasley began to prepare something for Harry to eat. George’s condition had improved a lot and the Mediwitch had said that he would be able to come home the next day or Friday. She left the kitchen to go wake up Arthur. Harry was glad to hear that George would recover completely. They had all gone to St. Mungo’s to visit him the day before and George had seemed to be in a horrible state, but they all knew he was better because he was joking again.

Harry stirred his porridge absentmindedly. His stomach was churning. Dumbledore had sent a note to all students a few weeks ago informing them that O.W.L. results would arrive towards the end of August. Harry had then read in the Prophet that the Ministry was reviewing all OWL results because of an accusation made of several students cheating on their exams. Finally, yesterday’s Prophet had declared that all grades assigned to students during their NEWTs and OWLs were not tampered with, and that the results would begin distribution yet this week. Hermione had been hysteric all day yesterday.

Around 7:30 in the morning, Harry groaned as an owl dropped a letter in front of him with the official seal of Hogwarts. Just then Hermione burst into the kitchen.

“Did you open yours yet?” She asked in her shrill voice and she was still wearing her dressing robes.

“No.” Harry replied plainly.

“Oh God, I can’t open mine… what if I didn’t do well?” Hermione said as she nervously played with her envelope.

“Come off it, Hermione. If anyone got perfect O’s in everything, it’s you. I want to be an Auror and I need NEWT Potions for that… I have something to worry about. Argh, will you just open your envelope!” Harry said frustrated.

“I don’t see you opening yours!” Hermione shot back.

Ron entered the kitchen with a pale face.

“Ron? What’s the matter?” Hermione asked. She feared that he had failed his OWLs.

Ron didn’t speak and simply handed her his opened Hogwarts Letter.

Hermione seized it from him and began to read.

“Ron!! Oh my God! I can’t believe…! Harry look at this!” She squealed with delight and handed the letter to Harry.


Ancient Runes N/A
Arithmancy N/A
Astronomy A
Care of Magical Creatures E
Charms O
Defence Against the Dark Arts E
Divination D
Flying E
Herbology E
History of Magic P
Muggle Studies N/A
Potions O
Transfiguration E


“You passed 9 O.W.L.s and you got two O’s!!! WOW, you even got an O in Potions!” Harry exclaimed and congratulated Ron. “Ron, what’s wrong?” Harry asked as Ron still seemed dumbfounded.

“I… I don’t know how I did it!” He said after he came to, then he jumped and gave a loud whoop! “I passed… I passed…” he began dancing away in the kitchen.

“What about you, mate?” Ron said as he spun around to face Harry. “Well, don’t stand there… open it. If I did this good, then you must have done great!” Ron encouraged Harry, and Harry couldn’t help but feel more courageous. He tore his envelope open, but closed his eyes. Both Ron and Hermione came up behind him to read.


Ancient Runes N/A
Arithmancy N/A
Astronomy A
Care of Magical Creatures E
Charms E
Defence Against the Dark Arts O with Merit
Divination D
Flying O
Herbology E
History of Magic D
Muggle Studies N/A
Potions O
Transfiguration E


“All right Harry! You got three of them O’s!!!” Ron exclaimed while Hermione congratulated him. Harry couldn’t believe it. He was shocked to see an O in potions. He then remembered his practical exam. The instructions on the board had been so neat, large, and straightforward, and without Snape vanishing his potion before he could even stir anything. Harry was delighted that he had done well. His ambition to be an Auror was not hopeless after all. He wondered if Professor McGonagall didn’t have anything to do with it. She had said that Harry would make Auror if it was the last thing she did! How could she have anyway? It must have been pure dumb luck, he concluded. Oh, to see Snape’s reaction when he saw him enter his NEWT Potions class.

Harry scanned his letter again. He even managed an Acceptable in Astronomy, even after the whole Hagrid/McGonagall fiasco had happened during the practical exam. He saw the Defence Against the Dark Arts grade and grinned. His examiner had been mightily impressed with his Patronus. When he noticed that he failed divination miserably, he simply rolled his eyes. History of Magic: he could care less that he didn’t pass. Harry scowled as he remembered that it was during this test that he had the vision about Sirius.

“Your turn Hermione,” Ron encouraged after celebration of Harry’s marks.

She opened her envelope and grinned wildly, then her face turn to one of shock.

“What!?” She bellowed as she stared at her paper in Horror.

“What?” Both Harry and Ron asked at the same time.

“I can’t believe this!” Hermione exclaimed angrily, “I’ve failed Flying!”

Both Harry and Ron tried hard to suppress their laughter.

“It is not funny!” Hermione exclaimed on the verge of tears.

Ron snatched her letter. “Oh, come off it Hermione! You got 10 perfect OWLs! One ‘Exceed Expectations’ in Defence Against the Dark Arts! What does it matter that you don’t know how to fly a broom,” Ron said trying to comfort her, but it only made things worse.

“You don’t understand! I can’t get my apparition license until I pass flying!” She shrieked at them.

“WHAT?” They both exclaimed in unison and surprise and Hermione yanked the paper from Ron and shoved it towards Harry.


Ancient Runes O
Arithmancy O
Astronomy O
Care of Magical Creatures O
Charms O
Defence Against the Dark Arts E
Divination N/A
Flying P
Herbology O
History of Magic O
Muggle Studies O (OLEP)
Potions O
Transfiguration O

Dear Miss Granger,

Every student is required to pass Flying lessons at an OWL level in order to receive their flying permit. As you know, obtaining a flying permit is a pre-requisite for obtaining your Apparating license. You must have an alternate mode of transportation in the event that your Apparating license is not granted, or should it ever be revoked. Since you have not achieved an Acceptable grade or above in Flying, you will be required to take this subject matter during your sixth year. If you again fail to pass this class, you will be required to take it again during your seventh and final year at Hogwarts. You will not be allowed to take your Apparition test until you pass the Flying test. Once you pass your Flying test you will be granted your flying license.

Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress,
Hogwarts


“I’m never going to Apparate or make Head Girl next year!” she exclaimed and buried her face in her hands.

“What are you on about? Hermione, Head Girl position already has your name reserved for it! There’s no way they can pick anyone else but you! And you’re going to pass Flying, I am sure of it,” Harry replied trying to console her as he felt uncomfortable with her tears.

“You’re not the first to ever have to take flying in sixth year. You remember that Ravenclaw girl last year, and she was in 7th year! Besides, Harry and I will help you so you can pass,” Ron encouraged although he thought it was ironic that Hermione would need help with any subject.

“I don’t understand it Hermione, I thought you could fly a broom just fine. Remember our first year, in the room with the flying keys? You had no problem then and you always have been able to fly.”

Hermione couldn’t answer and simply cried harder.
Ron and Harry panicked. Harry looked at her OWL results again.

“Hey, how did you get an OWL on Muggle Studies? You dropped that class a while ago?” Harry asked trying to get her mind off flying.

“Oh, that? I took an OWL Level Examination Program Test. I basically tested out of it,” Hermione replied amidst her tears. Both Harry and Ron looked at her surprised.

“What is going on?” Mrs Weasley asked as she entered the room. She saw the open letter on the table, and Ron and Harry were trying to calm Hermione down who was crying hysterically. She picked up Hermione’s letter and read the results.

“Hermione, you received 11 OWLs?” She asked delighted.

“But Hermione failed her Flying OWL,” Harry pointed out, which made Hermione wail louder.

“She thinks she won’t get Head Girl because she didn’t get all perfect,” Ron added.

“Oh, dear; it’s ok sweetie. Dumbledore made Head Boy and he told me that he had failed Herbology with a Dreadful when he had his OWLs. You got O’s on all of them. You should be celebrating. Now, stop this crying and cheer up or I will be forced to give you some Laughing Serum,” Mrs Weasley said wiping Hermione’s tear stricken face.

“You think it won’t matter?” Hermione tentatively asked.

“I am sure of it. If you have doubts, you can ask Dumbledore. Besides, flying is not for every witch. You only need to achieve an Acceptable to get that license, and for the Ministry test all you do is weave around a marked course without falling off your broom. It’s a lot easier than the OWL examination. If you ask me, they should do away with that OWL, and just have people take the Ministry test. I am sure you will be just fine. I know for sure that you can take your test as early as you want during sixth year and if you pass you don’t have to keep taking the class,” Mrs Weasley encouraged. “I failed flying miserably during my OWLs too. Of course it would have helped if I had gone to class,” she chuckled.

Ron looked at his mother in shock. His mother? She didn’t go to class? It was a side of her he didn’t know existed by the way that she was always fussing about them being good in school.

Hermione brightened somewhat and sniffed. “Maybe I’ll do just that,” she said and smiled a little. “And you’re right, I should be celebrating that I did great on everything else,” she said as she sniffed and wiped her tears. “I better Owl my mum and dad…”

“That’s the spirit. Now, Ron… how did you do?” Molly asked her son. When Ron hesitated, she encouraged him. “It’s all right. I won’t get mad, I promise… you can’t have done as bad as Fred and…” She began when Ron suddenly grinned and handed her his results.

“Ron! Merlin’s Holy beard!” Molly cried out utterly shocked and surprised. She engulfed Ron in a bear of a hug, and they could hear his muffled voice begging for air.

“Arthur! Arthur!!…” Molly’s voice trailed as she left the kitchen to look for her husband.

“What the bloody hell was that?” Fred asked entering the kitchen.

“I got two O’s, and passed all but my Divination and History of Magic OWLs” Ron said with pride.

Fred punched him in the arm. “Awww, look at Ickle Ronnikins. No wonder Mum is going bonkers. She has been telling herself that she would still love you even if you only passed 2 or 3 of them.”

Ginny walked into the room almost knocking Harry in the process.

“Look!” She said, excited as she pointed to the badge pinned on her clothes.

“Ginny, you got a Prefect badge!” Hermione exclaimed as she hugged the youngest Weasley.

Fred shook his head in disappointment, “We had such high expectations of you Ginny; you were our last hope.” Ginny stuck out her tongue at him.

Molly and Arthur returned to the kitchen and they were extremely pleased with Ginny’s announcement and Ron’s achievements. The rest of the day the foursome received many congratulations as the news spread about their OWLs and Ginny’s Prefect nomination. Everyone was very proud of the four of them and a huge dinner was planned as a celebration. There was even something more to celebrate. Dumbledore had just informed the Weasleys that George was going to be released from St. Mungos later that day.

“Now we get to pick our NEWT level classes,” Hermione said as she lay comfortably on the couch, while she bit the back of a Sugar Quill. “I don’t know what to pick!” She exclaimed.

“Well, what do you want to be?” Harry asked. “I want to be an Auror, so I have to sign up for Charms, Transfiguration, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions (unfortunately) and at least one more. I haven’t decided what yet. My only choices left are Care of Magical Creatures or Herbology,” (Professor Sprout allows E into her class) Harry said as he studied his choices left for classes. He wasn’t too excited about taking Herbology, but he needed at least five NEWTS for Auror training, so he ticked it. He felt bad about not picking Hagrid’s class, and wondered if 6 NEWTS would be too much. He really didn’t have the heart to not take his class. With a sigh, he ticked Hagrid’s class as well. Harry figured that he could slack off Care of Magical Creatures and just focus on achieving a NEWT in the other five subjects.

“I’m torn between being a MediWitch or working for the Regulation of Magical Creatures at the Ministry. I could try for a Magic and Spell Research position at the Academy. There are also careers in deciphering Runes, codes, and Safety Charms and such for Gringotts, or I could open up my own private non-profit organization. I could maybe instigate some changes at how unfairly some magical beings are treated. I better check all I can take, just in case,” Hermione ticked Charms, DADA, Potions, Transfiguration, Herbology, Ancient Runes, and Arithmancy, but hesitated when she came to Hagrid’s class. If she ended up wanting to make changes to the laws of treatment of magical creatures, she should probably sign up to have a NEWT in Hagrid’s class. She debated for a while; finally, and very reluctantly, she added Hagrid’s class. She would hate herself if, in the future, it turned out that she would have needed it after all.

“You are insane taking 8 NEWTS!” Harry exclaimed looking over her parchment. Ron gaped at Hermione, then rolled his eyes. “Typical know-it-all,” he mumbled teasingly at her. Hermione grinned.

“Well, I talked to Professor Flitwick earlier this summer and he said that he accepts E level OWLs into his NEWT class, and since I somehow got lucky in Potions, I am going to try for Auror. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go for professional Quidditch player,” Ron replied as he ticked Charms, Potions, Transfiguration, and DADA and consulted with Harry and checked Herbology. Ron refused to take Care of Magical Creatures at first, (I’d be nuts to want to go through Blasted-Ended Screwts!), but eventually Harry convinced him.

“You are crazy! But ok, I’ll do it… but if it gets to be too much I am dropping it, at least Hagrid will see that I tried…” Ron added and marked his sixth choice.

“Honestly Ron…!” Hermione began bickering with Ron and somehow the argument turned to the subject of Ron’s decision to be a Quidditch player.

Harry groaned as the two began bickering with each other. He would have to endure two more years of this, he thought bleakly. Harry stood up and Ron and Hermione didn’t even notice when he left for his room. As he entered the room, his expression brightened as he spotted the red Macaw perched on his bedrail with a note in his beak. Veronica had sent a letter!


Chapter 14: What news from Gringotts?
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A/N: Hi everyone! Thanks for reading along even if you're just lurking! Over 800 reads! Thank you so much...
And thanks to Rosie, my wonderful Beta.

Please let me know what you think of this so far! Oh, and disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.


Chapter 14

What news from Gringotts?


“You got everything you need?” Mrs Weasley asked the group of youngsters as they walked down Diagon Alley. It was Thursday, August 29th and Mrs Weasley was in charge of taking the youngsters to purchase what they needed. They had begged and begged to be let out of the house, and the adults finally agreed. They had noticed when they arrived that the alley was not as busy as usual, and people walked hurriedly from one store to the other. With Voldemort officially back, the Wizarding world was once again under fear.

“I actually need to get some more money from my vault. I didn’t take enough,” Harry replied and shifted his eyes to look at Ron and Hermione. They understood what his purpose was.

“Well, I still need to go pick up your finished robes from Madam Malkins and search for a new dress robe for Ginny…” Mrs Weasley began but was interrupted.

“Why don’t we go to Gringotts while you take Ginny to get her robes and we’ll meet for ice cream in an hour?” Ron offered.

“I want to stop by the Quidditch supply store too. That should be plenty of time,” Harry added.

“I dunno. We shouldn’t…”

“Come on mum! We can take care of ourselves, besides Tonks and Moody are around as Harry’s escort,” Ron begged pointing to the two Aurors who were with them.

“Oh, all right. One hour! You hear me?!” She yelled after the trio as they had already begun to sprint towards the bank.

They arrived at the magnificent white building and went past the security guards.

“Are you sure that this is wise Harry?” Hermione cautioned as she pulled on Harry’s arm to stop him for a moment.

“What can possibly happen? Tonks and Moody are right there!” He exclaimed exasperated with her and pointed to the two Aurors keeping watch from a few feet away. Hermione bit her lip and nodded, letting go of his arm.

“If you’re ready then,” she said and gave him a nervous smile. Harry ignored her and approached the goblin at the counter.

“I was told to request the key for Vault 1406P,” Harry said to the goblin whose head snapped up and stared at Harry suspiciously.

“Name?” the goblin asked.

“Harry Potter.”

The goblin’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “Wait here,” he said and disappeared through the back door. After a few moments a door to the right opened and an old, tiny and shrivelled goblin stepped out with three tall, ferocious-looking goblin guards behind him. Hermione wondered whether they were related to trolls.

“This way,” the old goblin croaked, and before Harry, Ron and Hermione could do anything, they were snatched by arms by the towering goblins and dragged inside the doorway from where the old goblin had appeared, and before Tonks and Mad-Eye could do anything about it, the door closed.

The trio protested against their captors, but their protests fell on deaf ears. They entered a large office and the old goblin seated himself behind the desk, while the other three guards threw the three young people unceremoniously onto some chairs across from him.

Outside, Tonks and Mad-Eye had to be escorted out of the bank after Moody tried to blast the door down. They quickly left in search of Dumbledore.

“So, Harry Potter wishes to see Vault 1406P, eh?” the goblin called Gomkag asked.

“Y-yes,” Harry stammered.

“Fill out this paperwork,” Gomkag said as he placed some parchment in front of Harry.

“What is this?” Harry asked.

“Transfer Of Ownership of course. No one claimed this vault when the owner passed away and until a few months ago it was unclaimed. Now it has been transferred to your name along with all of the possessions in it,” the goblin replied.

“By who?” Harry asked mystified.

Gomkag looked at the papers in front of him. “Says here that it was opened by Ellen Schellden and left TOD to Alex Rickard,” the old goblin paused to scratch his beard, “the transfer from Alex to you is classified, but the signature here says Michael Donovan. The instructions are to be transferred to your name …” Gomkag looked at Harry, “I am going to have your friends wait outside.”

“No, it is alright, they can stay with me,” Harry interjected. He didn’t want to be left alone.

“Then you all have to sign this. I must warn you, your vault has been reclassified to ‘Nonexistent’ meaning you cannot tell anyone about it. Signing this waiver will bind you to secrecy, and you will not be allowed to speak of the vault to anyone, even if you want to, and you won’t be able to change that until you become of age,” Gomkag said with a serious tone.

The trio looked at each other, and then nodded. They filled out the paperwork and signed the forms.

“Now give me your hand,” Gomkag asked of Harry.

“What for?” he asked not wanting to extend his arm.

“For the key of course, and to set the security. I must verify that you are Harry Potter,” the old goblin replied, annoyed.

Harry did what he was asked and Gomkag grabbed his wrist with surprising force.
Harry watched as Gomkag pricked his finger with a needle and drew a drop of blood, letting it fall on a piece of parchment. The drop of blood disappeared and soon the name Harry James Potter, son of James Potter and Lily Potter Evans appeared.

“Very well. Escort Mr Potter and his friends to the tunnels,” the old goblin dismissed the youngsters. One of the ferocious looking guards escorted them down a different door to the one they had come in through. They entered the cart and the goblin asked for the key.

“Er, I didn’t get a key,” Harry replied.

“What vault were you going to?” the goblin asked, annoyed.

“1406P,” Harry replied. This goblin seemed familiar to Harry. He recognised him as Griphook. He had met him the very first time Harry had come to Gringotts.

The goblin looked to the guard that had escorted them. The guard nodded.

“Vault 1406P,” Griphook said and the cart began to zoom down the tunnel. The ride seemed to be taking forever.

“Is your name Griphook?” Harry asked and the goblin stared at him.

“How do you know my name?” the goblin asked suspiciously.

“I met you five years ago, the first time I ever came to Gringotts. I was with Hagrid and we came to take … something … from a vault and it was the first time I visited my parents’ vault,” Harry replied.

Griphook was startled that this boy had remembered his name from so long ago. He remembered then when Hagrid and the boy he had with him had come. It was hard not to know who Hagrid was. He was perhaps the only wizard, apart from Dumbledore, for whom the goblins had some sort of respect. It was a miracle that the goblins and the wizards were not at war again. Their relationship was somewhat strained. He remembered the boy now; it had been The Boy Who Lived: The famous Harry Potter.

“I remember you now,” Griphook answered, “Yes, my name is Griphook. I am surprised you remember it from so long ago,” he added.

“Well, you were the first goblin I ever met in person. Until that day, I thought goblins were not real. I didn’t even know I was a wizard,” Harry answered trying to continue the conversation as the ride to the vault seemed longer than it should be.

They finally arrived in front of the vault and Harry noticed that there wasn’t a place for a key, and if there was he didn’t have a key anyway.

“Erm, how do I open it?” Harry asked.

“You have to put your hand here,” Griphook answered pointing to a round smooth ball the size of a football sticking from the door.

Harry placed his hand onto it. The smooth metal felt cool to his touch. After a second or so, the solid metal began to soften and it turned to the consistency of gel. Unsettlingly, Harry felt his hand sink into it.

“Now, you will feel the handle for the door inside,” Griphook informed him.

Harry grabbed the handle and turned it.

“Oh, by the way, I hope you are the true Harry Potter,” Griphook said with a grin which looked misplaced in his goblin face.

“Why is that?” Hermione queried.

“Because if he’s not, that door will know and he will find his arm without a hand,” he croaked.

Harry was relieved to hear a soft click from the door and he pulled out his hand. The gelatine metal ball solidified once again and the door to the vault opened.

“How does that door know who I am?” Harry asked Griphook.

“It compares your blood with the sample that was used to set the security spell,” Griphook answered. He should have already known this for his blood was needed to set up the security.

It was really dark inside and they couldn’t see anything, but as soon as Harry stepped in, fire burst into the many torches lining up the walls of the huge vault.
Their eyes nearly fell from their sockets as the three of them stared.

“How long will you need?” Griphook asked from the lift.

Harry gazed about the place, “Would half an hour be too long?” he asked.

Griphook would have normally snapped at a wizard for that, but he liked this boy.
“I have some paperwork I can work on while you do your business in there,” Griphook answered, “I will be back in half hour.” He said and the door began to close.

“Wait! How do I open the door?” Harry asked as the door was almost closed.

“The same way you went in,” Griphook answered as the vault door closed.

“I hope he’s right,” Hermione answered feeling a bit claustrophobic, but sighed, relieved, when she saw the same smooth metal ball on the door from this side.

Ron was goggling at the mounds of treasure in the place.

“Wow, mate… I thought you were filthy rich before, but this…” he said gazing up at the place with longing. He couldn’t help but feel envious of Harry.

Harry sighed. “I would trade all of it just to have known my parents,” he answered sadly.

Ron felt bad instantly, “I am sorry Harry… I”

“It’s all right Ron. You envy all this money I have, I envy you for the family you have,” he said and walked passed them.

Hermione just glared at Ron and shook her head. She followed Harry.

“So what are we looking for?” Ron asked as they began to look at the place.

Besides the mounds of gold, silver and copper shaped into the currency of wizards, there were a lot of other things: furniture, antiques, books; all sorts of things that seemed to have been left to someone in a will. Harry was surprised to see a section full of old muggle money.

“I’m not sure,” Harry replied.

“Gomkag said that this vault had belonged to Ellen Schellden. Do you know who she is?” Hermione asked.

The three of them were startled by a female voice.

“Ellen? Who goes there?”

Harry looked around, his wand in his hand as he searched for the person.

“Who’s there?” he asked, keeping alert.

“I asked the same of you,” the female voice answered, “Take this cover off me.”

“It’s coming from here,” Hermione pointed to a spot where a canvas cloth was covering the furniture.

Harry pulled the dusty cover off and they coughed from the cloud of dust that rose. They were now facing a portrait of an older woman. She looked very graceful, sitting on a fancy early century couch. She wore a silver gown with a set of silky robes. Her brown hair, accented with silver pulled tight on a bun behind her head. She was adorned with beautiful diamond jewellery. The woman in the portrait was shielding her eyes from the light.

“Ow, that’s very bright,” she said as she slowly moved her hand and peered at them, “Well, if it isn’t just children! My darlings I apologise for my former rudeness. You must understand I have been sleeping for so long I have not seen anyone for years! And this is the third time recently that someone turned on the lights, and the last fellow was not very friendly,” she said standing up from her couch and stretched. “My name is Anastasia Schellden, pleased to make your acquaintance.” She said in greeting.

“Erm, I am Harry, Harry Potter, and this is Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley,” Harry replied.

“Potter you say? Mmmm. Wait! Harry Potter? But you look so young and you look nothing like I remember you!”

Harry thought that being locked up in a dark vault might have damaged the picture.

“In what year were you painted?” Hermione asked.

“1968,” she answered.

“Well, it’s 1996 now,” Hermione clarified. Harry was too stunned to say anything. Ron simply listened. It was all very confusing.

“Good Merlin! Sixteen! I have been in here for sixteen years! So that means you must be Jr. Last time Ellen came here, you were just born! I didn’t know so much time had gone by,”

“Who is Ellen?” Harry asked.

Mrs Schellden looked at him with shock. “What do you mean who is she? She’s your grandmother! Lily’s mother!” she said, utterly confused.

“But my grandmother was Marie Evans,” Harry interjected.

“Well, of course she was! Her name is Marie Ellen Schellden but she hated Marie when I knew her. Everyone called her Ellen then. She married a muggle named Rick Evans later. Now, why in the world would you not know all of this?” She asked curiously. This was turning out to be a mystery; here was her great grandson but he knew nothing of her.

Harry spent sometime telling her everything he knew, “Erm, I never met my grandparents. They died before I was born,” he said and paused to think. It did make him realise that he knew nothing of any of his grandparents.

“Dead? My Ellen is dead? And Lily…!” the old woman exclaimed and gripped her chest. She began to sob, quietly. The three of them felt uncomfortable with a crying woman in a canvas portrait. She regained her composure after a while, and wiped her cheeks.

“At least we have found each other now. If you just take me home, I will be glad to get out of here. You can even put me in the attic if you want,” Mrs Schellden brightened.

“Um, about that, I don’t have a home to take you to…” Harry began and explained everything about the Dursleys.

Mrs Schellden was enraged. “The nerve of her! She is a witch just like your mother, at least half a witch!”

“She is? I always thought my mother’s parents were muggles,” Harry said.

“Well, Ellen lived as a muggle, and married a muggle, she was a Squib, you see,” she replied.

Harry was stunned by this revelation.

“Harry, you could take her to Grimmauld Place,” Ron offered.

“Oh, yes… anywhere but here,” she pleaded.

“Don’t you have other portraits to go visit?” Hermione asked.

“Yes, I do… but with all the magical protection I can’t get out to visit any other portraits outside this vault,” she said sounding a bit annoyed.

“I’m sorry,” Hermione apologised, embarrassed. She should have thought of that. She turned to Harry, “Griphook will be here in a few minutes,” Hermione said glancing at her watch.

“Please take me with you. I want to get out and learn more about what happened to my daughter, my granddaughter and about you,” Mrs Schellden pleaded.

“You think it will be all right to take her with us?” Hermione asked.

“I don’t see why not, Gomkag said that all that was in here belonged to me now, which reminds me… do you know who Alex Rickard is? The papers said that when Ellen Schellden died this vault was TOD to him,” Harry said.

Mrs Schellden looked confused. “TOD?”

“Transferable On Death,” Hermione clarified.

“Oh, I see. Mmmh,” she paused to think for a moment. “I have no clue who Alex Rickard is, but you must understand that I didn’t know much about Ellen. I didn’t speak with her again after she turned 17. I died never seeing her again,” She said sadly.

That would explain why his aunt never talked about her grandmother, Harry thought to himself.

“What about Michael Donovan? His signature was on the paperwork when we transferred the vault to Harry,” Hermione queried.

“Michael? I don’t know of him. Someone did come here several months ago, I think it was months. He wouldn’t speak to me, only to say that he had his orders and that he was just seeing what was in this vault. He seemed to be cataloguing everything. He came back a few weeks ago and I demanded some answers and he then covered me up,” she said shrugging.

Harry had been inspecting the old furniture peering into cabinets, while Hermione had looked at the books. Ron searched around trying to find clues as to who the people were. Harry opened a drawer. He delicately pulled an old tattered and scorched parchment book from inside. The book was in terrible condition. It looked as if it had been through fire. A lot of the pages were burned in half and several of the pages were missing.

“Harry, we have to go,” Hermione called.

Harry didn’t have time to look at it, but decided to take it with him. He pocketed the book gently into his robe.

“What was it dear?” Mrs Schellden asked curiously.

“I think it’s a diary, it seems like it anyway. I don’t have time to read it now though. We have to go. Let’s wrap you up so we can take you with us,” Harry said and picked up the canvas that was covering her before.

“Oh, thank you Harry,” Mrs Schellden said and sat down on the couch ready for her journey.

Harry began to tie the canvas cloth over her and was joined by Hermione and Ron.

There was a knock on the door.

“That must be Griphook,” Harry said as he went to the door, and repeating the procedure as before, he opened the door.

“Ah, right on time,” Griphook said, pleased that he wouldn’t have to wait for them.

Harry, Ron and Hermione carried the large portrait onto the lift. Harry watched as the fire went out on the torches, and the door shut and he heard the clicking of the locks.

“Found what you were looking for?” Griphook asked eyeing the portrait.

“We found something I was not expecting,” Harry grinned at him.

“Oof, this thing is heavy, are you sure you want to take this?” Ron exclaimed.

“I heard that!” Mrs Schellden’s voice came from under the canvas. The three of them laughed.

“Oh, there are some friends of yours looking for you upstairs. They have arrested some of them for causing a scene. It is quite the commotion upstairs,” Griphook smirked.

“Oh no, Moody,” Hermione murmured.

They were entering the main lobby of Gringotts when they noticed a commotion of wizards and goblins, and a group of reporters.

“What is going on?” Harry asked noticing Remus, Tonks and Moody, along with Shacklebolt.

“Harry!” Remus exclaimed.

“There he is!” Someone shouted and Harry was blinded by the flashes of the cameras and Harry and the other two were cut off from Remus.

“Mr Potter… can you comment on the commotion caused by your disappearance into the bank…”

“… about the allegations that goblins had kidnapped…”

“… You were missing for an almost an hour…”

Harry was surrounded by reporters that were shouting questions at him.

Remus and the others came to his rescue and tried to push back the throng.

“Harry, do something!” Hermione hissed at him.

“Like what?” Harry asked frustrated.

“Give them what they want. Give them an interview!”

“Are you mad?”

“Just make up something!” She said loud enough so only he could hear.

Harry nervously put up his hands and tried to hush the crowd. He felt stupid doing that. “Remember Gilderoy,” Ron whispered to him and snickered.

Harry felt like a complete idiot, but Ron was right. Lockhart had known how to charm the crowd and Harry had seen him many times. He slapped on his face one of his best, fake, and most charming smiles.

“Please…” he began surprising himself, “I can answer your questions. Just one at a time please,” he said and he could feel beads of sweat down his back. He was so nervous. He heard snorting behind him, and turned to glare at Ron. He smiled back at the reporters.

A young lady asked the first question. “Allegations were made by witnesses that had seen you and your friends being dragged into a door by force. What do you have to say about those allegations?”

Harry explained his way out of the accusations, putting in a good word for the bank at the same time. Then someone asked, “What do you have to say about You-Know-Who now that the Ministry has officially acknowledged his return?”

Harry paled at the question, he didn’t want to get into that and he was looking for a way out, but he also couldn’t help but feel irritated the way people refused to say his name.

“Say his name!!! It’s Vol-de-mort!” he hissed annoyed. The crowd of reporters were shocked and gasped. “I think it is about time people start realizing that fear of the name only causes fear of the thing itself!” he spat… “And I have nothing to say about that git. So please forgive me if I am unable to answer your question. I am actually running late and I just wanted to clarify this whole misunderstanding here at the bank. I just want to make sure the Wizarding world is aware of the great service Gringotts provides to our community and the excellent job the goblins perform for us wizards. Now, if you excuse me, I must leave now,” Harry said and guided his friends away from the reporters, who began to shout questions at once, but didn’t follow them.

Griphook watched the boy leave, and rose an eyebrow. He was surprised at Harry’s words. Yes, this boy may be someone worthy of his respect.

“I’m impressed,” Remus said when Harry approached them, “I had no idea you had such a way with reporters.”

“Oh God, that was awful,” Harry said finally releasing the tension he felt, and wiped his forearm over his forehead.

“We best get going before that mob decides to corner you for more questions,” Hermione urged. Tonks, Moody, and Kingsley followed the group at a distance. Remus offered to levitate whatever it was under the canvas and they headed to the ice cream parlour where Mrs Weasley waited with Ginny. They were unaware of the whole Gringotts commotion.

“What did you guys buy now?” Ginny asked eyeing the large package.

“We didn’t buy it,” Ron answered.

“Where did you get that then?” Mrs Weasley asked.

“We found it in Harry’s vault,” Hermione answered.

“What is it?” Ginny asked.

“It’s a painting of my great grandmother,” Harry answered.

“On the Potter side?”

“No, on the Evans side. Can we go back to Grimmauld Place? We can talk there,” Harry answered looking back anxiously and expecting to see the group with the cameras and the note taking quills.

Mrs Weasley raised an eyebrow. She didn’t know Lily had a portrait of her great-grandmother. She wasn’t sure, but she thought Lily had never met her mother’s parents. “Oh, yes. You have everything you need then?” Mrs Weasley asked as she levitated all of the packages they had, “here… add that to the pile,” she indicated, and Remus passed it to her.

“Well, I have to get going. I will see you at headquarters later,” Remus said, bidding them good bye. Harry watched him go and wondered what he was doing for the Order. The last time he’d spoken to Remus, he was very evasive about the subject and could only tell him that he was on assignment.

“I guess we better take the Knight Bus; I’m not sure this will fit through the fireplace, and I don’t want to risk ruining it,” Mrs Weasley said and they headed to a spot where they could flag down the bus.

“’Ello Neville,” Stan said as soon as the purple triple decked bus appeared, “Hey Ernie, look it’s him Neville who is also ‘arry Potter!” Stan said aloud. He turned back to Mrs. Weasley. “Let me ‘elp you wi’ that.”

Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, Hermione and Ron gave Harry a look.

“It’s something I’d rather not talk about right now,” Harry replied.

After a bumpy ride, they unloaded a few streets from 12 Grimmauld place and walked the rest of the way there.

They entered the house and unpacked all of their shopping things.

“I want to see the picture,” Ginny said, dying with curiosity.

“Why don’t you all go put everything away first, then we can unveil the portrait. We have to find a spot for it too,” Mrs Weasley commanded. The teenagers did as they were told, and soon returned to the sitting room where the portrait was propped up against the wall.

Harry unwrapped the canvas revealing the portrait. Mrs Schellden was gone from it.

“I wonder where she went,” Hermione mused.

“She did say she hadn’t been able to get out for 16 years because of the security in Gringotts,” Harry replied. She could have gone anywhere.

Just then she stepped into the portrait. “It feels so good to be able to get out,”

“Where did you go?” Harry asked.

“I went to see if there was any other of my portraits around. But there is only one left, and oddly enough it is at Hogwarts. The others must have been destroyed for some reason or other,” she said sitting down in her chair. “Well hello there,” she said noticing Mrs Weasley and the younger version of her.

“I didn’t know any of Lily’s grandparents were wizards,” Mrs Weasley exclaimed surprised.

Mrs Schellden sighed, “Yes, I am aware of that now. But where are my manners, I am Anastasia Schellden. My daughter was Ellen… or Marie Ellen Evans,” she said with a pleasant, but sad smile.

“Molly Weasley and this is my daughter, Ginny, and you’ve met one of my sons, Ronald,” Mrs Weasley replied. “If you don’t mind me saying, I thought Marie’s maiden name was Manston.”

Mrs Schellden sighed. “Yes, it’s a long story… but basically my husband disowned her, so she changed her name. Ellen probably never told Lily about it,” she finished.

“I don’t believe that Lily knew,” Mrs Weasley replied still not quite able to believe everything the portrait had said. But looking at her, she could see the resemblance between her and the only picture of Marie Evans that Molly had ever seen.

“Have you decided where you are going to place me?” Mrs Schellden asked changing the topic.

“We were just discussing where we’ll place you but I’m afraid you might find this place a bit gloomy,” Harry said with a shrug.

“Can’t be any worse than being sixteen years in the dark,” she replied.

“I guess you’re right,” Harry smiled at her.

“Why don’t we take her to the drawing room upstairs? I think it’s the best room in the house,” Mrs Weasley offered.

Harry agreed and Mrs Weasley levitated the portrait. As they were passing down the hallway, Ron tripped and collided with a hat stand. Suddenly the curtains covering Mrs Black’s portrait opened and she began to screech at the top of her lungs.

“Get out of my house! Filthy Blood traitors… Mudblood…!”

Mrs Schellden gasped as she saw the woman in the portrait screaming all sorts of obscenities. She covered her ears. Mrs Weasley placed her down and hurried to fight with the curtains to cover Mrs Black, Ron took the other.

“Who is that?” Mrs Schellden asked.

“That’s Mrs Black. Her portrait is stuck with a permanent sticking charm and we can’t figure out how to take her down,” Harry said grimacing at her screams.

“Is she talking about you?” Mrs Schellden asked after hearing the things she was saying.

Harry nodded.

Mrs Schellden moved off the portrait and left. Harry didn’t blame her if she didn’t want to hear the old witch’s rambling. To everyone’s surprise, she appeared in Mrs Black portrait.

“Silencio!” Mrs Schellden yelled, her wand pointed at Mrs, Black.

At once Mrs Black’s voice went out and though she moved her mouth no sound escaped.

“Much better,” Mrs Schellden said dusting her hands in accomplishment.

“How did you do that?”

“Where did you get a wand?” Ron asked amazed.

“Well, someone once told me that if I ever had my portrait painted to make sure I had my wand painted as well. It has come in handy a few times. I can’t really do much magic, but I can do what I like to call portrait magic. Basically in a portrait some basic spells work like they would in real life,” she said and grinned.

Mrs Black was now glaring at her.

“Don’t look at me like that, or I’ll hex you,” Mrs Schellden threatened then stepped off and appeared back in her portrait.

Mrs Weasley, grateful that someone had finally done something about Mrs Black, closed the curtains and levitated the portrait of Mrs Schellden into the drawing room.

“Thank you Mrs Schellden. It is about time someone put that portrait in her place.” Mrs Weasley said.

“Oh, you’re welcome dear. Anytime. Please, call me Ana,” she insisted.

“Master…” Kreacher came into the room bowing low to Harry. “What have you done…” he began in a pleasant voice that turned sour as he spat, “filthy mudblood lover…” then nice again, “to my mistress of the house…”

Harry’s blood began to boil. He had not seen Kreacher at all so far and he had not bothered to ask about him. He remembered well how he had deceived him about Sirius, and if he hadn’t lied to him, Harry would have never gone to the Ministry and Sirius would have never left and fallen through the veil.

“YOU!” Harry yelled and whipped out his wand, “I OUGHT TO KILL YOU RIGHT NOW!” He yelled and it took Ron and Hermione all they had to keep him from cursing Kreacher to oblivion (Harry! You can’t use magic!).

Kreacher cowered at his feet, but still crawled towards Harry… “Master… filthy mudblood lover… don’t hurt Kreacher. Kreacher will NOT OBEY be good to his new BLOOD TAINTED master,” He said jumping from cowering to scowling at the same time.

“Kreacher! Get out… I never want to see you again!” Harry yelled and he saw the glee in Kreacher’s eyes as he began to run away.

“Kreacher stop!” Harry said remembering what Kreacher had done when Sirius implied that he leave. He had gone straight to Narcissa.

“Kreacher is obeying orders of … FILTHY BLOOD TRAITOR… Master MUDBLOOD LOVER Potter,” the elf replied. Harry had to everything in his power to keep from lashing out at Kreacher and squeezing his neck.

“So you can go and betray me like you betrayed Sirius?” Harry spat with venom.
“And why do you keep calling me master?” Harry asked angrily.

“Master Black is dead,” the house elf answered with glee, then he wailed and scowled, “everything belonging to him is left to new Master Potter’s. But Kreacher wants his mistress Bella…”

“Don’t you ever dare speak her name!” Harry bellowed and Kreacher gagged. He seemed to be trying to force the words out of his mouth, just to spite and defy Harry, but nothing happened. If Harry had any doubt that Kreacher now belonged to him, this clarified everything. Harry murderously glared at Kreacher. It was true that, Sirius had left everything to Harry, but Harry didn’t want any of it. He also thought that an elf’s loyalty lied with the family. He had actually assumed that Kreacher would have become Narcissa’s or Bellatrix’s elf. Then again, Narcissa was a Malfoy now, and Bellatrix was a Lestrange.

“I prohibit you from leaving this house ever without my consent!” Harry barked, shaking with anger, “and you will not ever lie to me or anyone, if you disobey you will set fire to that portrait that you love so much. Now go and do some cleaning or something useful for once!” Harry yelled and Kreacher left cursing under his breath, but clearly shaken. He was bound to obey, and Harry ordering him to destroy the portrait of Mrs Black was enough of a threat to never risk disobeying Harry.

“Don’t you think that was a little harsh?” Hermione spoke up, ever defending house elves.

“DON’T GIVE ME THAT LOAD OF CRAP! KREACHER LIED TO ME! HE TOLD ME THAT SIRIUS WAS NOT IN THE HOUSE WHEN I ASKED LAST YEAR! HE HAD GONE TO NARCISSA AND THEY PLANNED ALL OF IT OUT. SIRIUS IS DEAD BECAUSE I WENT TO THE MINISTRY AND ALL BECAUSE KREACHER LIED TO ME! SO DON’T COME TO ME ABOUT LENIENCY TO ELVES. NOT KREACHER!” Harry yelled and stormed from the room.

Hermione paled, and stared wide eyed as he left. “I… I… I didn’t know…”

“Way to go Hermione!” Ron chided her and he left to go after Harry.

Hermione burst into tears and ran to her room.

“Hermione…” Ginny called after her.

“What just happened?” Mrs Schellden asked.

Mrs Weasley spoke to her about the whole situation while she cleared a wall to hang the portrait.

“Dear Merlin! Harry has been put through so much…” Mrs Schellden exclaimed but was interrupted.

“Hem hem. Excuse me?” Phineas Nigellus interrupted them as his head appeared in the side of Mrs Schellden’s portrait.

“I heard a rumour that you had something to do with Mrs Black’s silence,” he said as he stepped in. He had never been fond of Mrs Black, although he too was strict when it came to bloodlines.

“Yes and that woman needed it badly,” Mrs Schellden replied. “Who are you?” she asked.

“Phineas Nigellus,” he replied bowing to her and taking her hand and kissing it.

“Headmaster Nigellus?” She asked startled.

“Yes, have we met?”

“I started at Hogwarts while you were the headmaster!” she said, surprised.

“Really?”

“Yes, I was in the same year as your grandson, Rastaban Black. Anastasia DeVarak was my maiden name then, I was in Ravenclaw.”

“Ah, Augustus and Marietta DeVarak’s daughter. Yes, I do remember you. It is a pity my grandson preferred Elladora over you. I must confess now that I thought you were a perfect match for him,” he said and smirked.

“Oh Really?” she replied raising her eyebrows. “If I remember correctly you took every chance you had to keep us apart! If he married Elladora it was because of you. But I got over it, and I married Charles Schellden instead,”

“You had a very decent lineage…” he continued in approval ignoring her comment.

Mrs Weasley had left the room a while back leaving those two bicker with each other.

“Of course, I am a direct descendant of Rowena Ravenclaw herself,” Mrs Schellden said, her chest puffed out a bit.

“So, what is a portrait like you doing in the noble house of Black?” Phineas asked.

“You know my great-grandson, Harry Potter? He brought me here today,” she replied casually.

“Harry Potter is your great-grandson? How is that so?” Phineas asked unable to mask his surprise.

“My daughter, Ellen, was Lily Evan’s mother,” she replied.

Phineas was about to retort something when they heard a crash, and then Mrs Black began screaming again.

“I see my spell has worn off,” she sighed, “damn portrait magic. I best go see what I can do,” she said and left the portrait.

Phineas followed after her. This would be interesting.

Seconds later they appeared right next to Mrs Black, crowding her portrait space.

“You!” Mrs Black screamed at Mrs Schellden as she moved to the side as far away from her.

“Yes, me. Would you please quiet down? Your screeching is giving me a headache, darling,” Mrs Schellden began and Mrs Black was about to yell at her, “don’t make me hex you,” she said pointing her wand at Mrs Black.

Mrs Black just glared at her, but kept her mouth shut.


Chapter 15: Midnight Rendezvous
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Chapter 15

Midnight Rendezvous


“Molly, thank you for quieting down Mrs. Black,” Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye. He was there to head an Order meeting later that evening.

“Don’t thank me Albus, it was actually Anastasia Schellden who did it. Her portrait is now hanging in the drawing room upstairs,” said Mrs. Weasley.

“And how did Mrs. Schellden’s portrait happen to get here?” Dumbledore inquired with interest.

“Harry found her in his vault today and brought her picture back. I had a very nice conversation with her this afternoon; she seemed like she was a very nice lady in life,” Mrs. Weasley replied.

“Mmmh,” Albus murmured and seemed to ponder things for a moment. He had gone to see the vault that had been left to Harry by Lily’s mother. Since he was now Harry’s guardian, his signature had been required. He had requested to see the vault, and it had been him who ordered the items be transferred to Harry’s personal vault. The name on the certificate said Ellen Manston, not Ellen Schellden. He didn’t recall seeing a portrait among the possessions either. He was concerned that an unidentified portrait had been brought to Grimmauld Place.

“Did you ask how she came to be in the Potter’s vault?” Dumbledore asked while he straightened his long beard as he stood up.

“She claims to be Lily Evan’s grandmother,” Molly replied with a hint of disbelief in her tone, “she even has an elaborate story about it. I am not sure though… I think that maybe we should look into it. I always thought that Lily Evans was Muggle born.”

“Yes, I think I will have someone look into it,” Dumbledore agreed noting Mrs. Weasley’s suspicions. Lily’s mother’s maiden name had not been Schellden. Also, he knew of two Death Eaters who had been part of the Schellden family.

“I think that I shall pay a visit to Mrs. Schellden while the rest of the Order arrives,” he said and left the kitchen. He entered the drawing room and was surprised to see Phineas bickering with Mrs. Schellden. Dumbledore cleared his throat. Both of them whirled around to look at him.

“Ah, Phineas, what a surprise to see you here! I was wondering where you had disappeared to this morning,” Dumbledore greeted him. Phineas Nigellus Black didn’t answer and merely looked down to him.

“You must be Anastasia Schellden,” said Dumbledore.

“Yes, a pleasure to meet you Mr…?

“Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts,” he replied with a small bow, since he could not take her hand.

“Professor Dumbledore? You became headmaster? It must have been after my passing, for I don’t remember this. We’ve met before. You taught transfiguration at Hogwarts. I was a student there during your first year. I was in your seventh year class... Anastasia DeVarak,” Anastasia said with a huge smile.

Dumbledore paused to remember. “Yes, I remember you now. How could I forget, you had a very good hand with Transfiguration spells. I am sure that seventh year Slytherin boy never forgot you either. I can’t recall his name at this moment,” Dumbledore commented with a twinkle in his eye, although his expression was still troubled.

Dumbledore turned to Phineas. “Will you please excuse us? I have some private matters I would like to discuss with Mrs Schellden,” said Professor Dumbledore.

“Certainly Headmaster,” Phineas bowed to Anastasia and left the portrait.


****

Harry entered his room. He took off his robe and hung it in the cupboard and forgot about the little book he had taken from the vault earlier that day. He had made up with Hermione about the earlier incident, but he had said he wanted to be alone for a while. He was about to lie on the bed when an owl entered his bedroom window. It dropped a letter with an official Ministry seal on it and Harry gulped. He had managed to completely forget about the hearing the next day! Ron burst into the room at that moment.

“Did you see it yet!?” asked Ron. He had his own letter in his hand, already opened.

“No, I’ve just stared at it. What time do we have to be there tomorrow?” asked Harry remembering the last time he was there the year before.

“We don’t have to. Open it,” said Ron enigmatically. Harry did as told and tore the envelope open.

Dear Mr. Potter,

In light of evidence and testimony presented on your behalf by your legal counsel, Michael A. Donovan, in the matter of case no. 03278A on charges against you, the defendant, for violating the Decree for the Restriction of Underage Wizardry on August 16 at 10:03 pm and again on August 17 at 11:30 am, you have been acquitted of all charges in the matter. Your presence for your hearing on Friday 30th August is no longer required.

Sincerely,

Amelia Bones
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
Ministry of Magic


Hermione now stood next to Ron, her letter in her hands as well.

“I have no idea who this Michael Donovan is, but I’m very thankful for this. I really didn’t want to have to face the Wizengamot again,” said Harry then he looked up to them with a frown on his face.

“Why would we face the Wizengamot?” asked Hermione.

“Well, last time I had to,” Harry shrugged.

“About Michael, I took a look into Michael Donovan and you’re not going to believe what I found,” said Hermione now sitting on Harry’s bed.

“Now what?” Harry exclaimed.

“He is an Unspeakable! And, about a year ago, he transferred to the Department of Mysteries. Before that, he was an Auror. I couldn’t gain access to any more information though,” replied Hermione.

“He is an Unspeakable?” asked Harry thoroughly puzzled. Who was this man? “What I’d like to know is who appointed him as my legal counsel. I mean, he signed that vault over to me and now this. Do you think Professor Dumbledore assigned him to me? He is my legal guardian after all…”

“Well, I don’t know, but I don’t think Dumbledore’s behind this. Just a few moments ago before the owls arrived he said that he would accompany us to the hearing tomorrow. So if he sent Donovan, you would think he would know about the hearing being cancelled,” Hermione answered looking apprehensive. She didn’t like the idea of Dumbledore not knowing what was going on.

“I reckon Hermione might be right. But why do things this way? And do you think Alex Knightley is behind Donovan then?” Ron asked.

“No, I don’t believe so. I looked into it too and Alex Knightley was reported dead in 1962 and apparently he had no relatives left alive. It could explain why no one claimed the vault in his name after your grandmother died,” Hermione explained and then shared the rest of her findings.

“How did you find all of this stuff out?” Ron asked with wonder.

“I borrowed Harry’s book. It seems that his edition can get into public files at the Ministry as well,” she grinned.

“It doesn’t explain why the vault was transferred to me now,” said Harry feeling frustrated. Nothing was making sense.

“Well, it could be that somehow your grandmother Ellen was traced to you and it is why you have it now. If what Mrs. Schellden says it is true, then everything in that vault belonged to your grandmother. Maybe since Donovan is in the Ministry he cleared up the whole thing.”

“I think I am going to try and contact him directly. I’ll send him an owl. If he is meddling with me than he better face me and tell me what is going on. I am quite sick of everyone doing things behind my back,” said Harry and moved to the desk.

“Do you think that is wise?” Hermione cautioned.

“I don’t see how it can hurt,” Harry shrugged and began composing the note.

Mr. Unspeakable,

I am grateful for your help with the case on underage magic usage. I would like to ask if we could meet in person. I have a few questions in regards to a matter involving your signature in some legal documents. Could we arrange a meeting?

Sincerely,

Harry


“Why that name?” Hermione asked about his use of the word instead of his name.

“In case the owl is intercepted. He will know what I mean,” Harry replied. He was tired of the Order meddling in his business. He went to Hedwig and sent the letter. He gave her specific orders to seek this man directly.

Mrs. Weasley called from the kitchen for everyone to go down for the evening meal. When the meal was over, the three of them, with the addition of Ginny, Fred and George, returned to the boys’ room. Harry noticed Hedwig was perched on his bed, a note in her beak. She gave Harry the note and nipped his fingers affectionately.

Leaky Cauldron, room 3, midnight

M.D.


“You think that means tonight?” Ron asked.

“Tonight what?” Ginny asked.

“I’m going to meet someone tonight,” Harry replied, wishing she hadn’t been there or that Ron had kept his mouth shut. Ron’s ears turned red.

“I don’t think you’re going anywhere without us,” Fred and George chimed in together, “someone from the Order should accompany you,” they grinned.

“I’m coming too,” said Ginny with authority.

Rather than begin arguing about it, Harry simply nodded. She had gone with him to the Department of Mysteries last year, and he knew he would not be able to change her mind.

“We’ll take my Invisibility Cloak and you can hide under it,” said Harry and added when she was about to protest, “no ‘buts’ about it.”

“Mmph,” Ginny crossed her arms, but nodded.

Harry turned to Fred and George and made them swear not to tell the others. Fred and George only agreed to keep things quiet if everything went ok. The minute things got out of hand, they would get reinforcements. Harry agreed.

“We’ll meet by the fireplace at 11:45pm. Be as quiet as possible; I don’t want the Order to know, well… besides you two,” said Harry and they went about their activities as usual and went to bed around 11. When Harry, Hermione, Ron, Fred, George and Ginny made their way to the fireplace, the whole household had already gone to bed.

“We’ll apparate and wait for you there,” said Fred and both him and George disappeared with a crack. One by one, the youngsters used the Floo and appeared inside the inn. They had put on some black cloaks to conceal their identities. Fred and George were waiting for them and they made their way up the stairs and then into room #3. The door was open, but when they entered, the room was empty.

Everyone had their wands ready.

“Don…” Harry began to call his name.

“Don’t say the name,” a rich, deep voice called from a dark corner of the room. Out of the shadows a figure stepped into the dim light cast by the small lamp on a table. Harry thought he recognized the voice.

“You wished to see me?” the man asked and in his hand he had the letter Harry had sent with Hedwig. The youngsters noted he bore the standard black cloak fashioned in the style of the Unspeakables. His hood was over his head, and only left the tip of his nose and his lips visible as he spoke.

“How do I know you are whom I seek?” Harry asked pointing his wand at the stranger.

“I am to whom you sent the note. You must trust Hedwig,” the man replied and placed his own wand on the table. He smiled.

“Miss Weasley, there is no need for you to hide. You are not invisible to me,” said Donovan. He stretched his hand out and pulled the cloak from Ginny.

“How did you know?” Harry asked fearful now that maybe this man was something more than any of them could handle.

“Trick of the trade,” Donovan replied nonchalantly handing the cloak back to Harry. He sat down on a chair.

“Who do you work for?” Harry asked the next question, he still kept his wand trained on him.

“I am an Unspeakable for the Ministry. It is one of my jobs. But I am hired by a private party on the side, who must remain confidential,” said Donovan.

“Is it You-Know-Who?” blurted Ron.

Donovan laughed. He pulled up the sleeve of his left arm to reveal he didn’t have a mark. “No, I do not serve him, and never will,” he replied with a bit of venom in his voice. “Is there a purpose to this meeting? I can’t stay for long,” Donovan said and his head turned to face Harry.

Harry knew he could not speak about the vault in front of Fred, George and Ginny, even if he wanted to. He had signed the papers magically binding him to keep the vault secret from anyone that didn’t already know about it.

“Can you guys wait outside?” said Harry as he turned to them and turned enough so Donovan could not see his face. Harry looked at Ron’s wristwatch and made signal with his eyebrows. If Ron understood the gesture, he didn’t give it away, but he turned to the others.

“We’ll be right outside,” Ron said and dragged the others out of the room.

“Are you sure Harry?” Fred asked with worry as he reached the door.

“I’ll be fine,” Harry assured them. When the door closed, he turned to Donovan and pulled a chair and sat across from him on the table. Under the table, he slowly reached for his wristwatch and when he felt it get warm, meaning someone was trying to link with him, he pushed the button once.

Donovan tilted his head. “You are brave to face me alone without knowing much about me. I could be lying you know, I could take you straight to him,” he said lowering the tone of his voice as he leaned towards Harry, the menacing hooded face staring at Harry. The man’s lips curled into a sneer.

“You wouldn’t be the first to drag me to him,” Harry replied bravely and kept the fear he felt in check, his wand still trained on Donovan under the table. Maybe he was being foolish.

Donovan’s sneer changed into a smile, and he nodded, as if to himself. “You must understand that because of my profession I am not allowed to speak at liberty of what I do. But you have my word Harry. You will never come to harm from me. Now, you have questions,” Donovan said and leaned back against his chair. Harry remembered Dobson had said the same thing to him.

“Yes, I want to know about vault 1406P. How did you transfer that vault into my name and how did you find out my mother was the daughter of Ellen Schellden?” Harry asked.

“When a vault has been unclaimed after the owner’s death for a period of 15 years the Ministry is notified, and a new investigation is opened. Because of the beneficiary’s identity, the Department of Mysteries was involved and I was assigned to the case. I found all the information I needed to have the vault transferred into your name, since you are a relative of the original owner. I was given instructions to make certain changes to the security of this vault, and the rest you know,” replied Donovan.

“So is Dobson just an alias?” Harry asked him point blank. He wanted to know if Dobson and Donovan were one and the same.

Donovan eyed him shrewdly, but Harry couldn’t see his eyes; he could only feel his intense gaze. They were silent for a moment. “Yes. It is my Muggle name,” he finally replied.

“Why did you have to kidnap me? If this is standard Ministry procedure for the vault exchange, then why not just ask to speak with me?” Harry questioned unable to hide his irritation, and his suspicion.

“The security level change of your vault is not related to Ministry business. As far as the Ministry is concerned, I arranged the transfer of the vault to your name. There were a few items that I had moved to a temporary vault. It is this vault that Professor Dumbledore signed to be closed, since he is your legal guardian. He had the contents of the decoy vault transferred to your own. And today you closed the vault. The original vault no longer exists, and no one knows about it except you…”

“Why did you have Professor Dumbledore look into a false vault…? I…”

“Professor Dumbledore has been informed that the vault that your grandmother, Ellen Manston, left to you was opened by her when her daughter attended Hogwarts. She had left the vault to Rick Evans, but because he had died, and she had never assigned the vault to anyone else, the vault had been left unclaimed. Professor Dumbledore does not know about the original vault 1406P, or any information pertaining to that vault, and it will remain that way. You are unable to share this with him… and I didn’t kidnap you Harry. When I contacted you at that Muggle party I was not working as an Unspeakable then. I told you I can not let my real identity be known, and the appearance of Dementors complicated things. And would you have given me your time, had I asked? You are under 24 hour surveillance. I had my orders, and I apologize for the way things worked out. This is all the information I can give you for now. I must be going,” Donovan said and stood up. Before Harry could protest, Donovan backed into the brick wall and passed through and disappeared.

“Wait!” Harry shouted and ran to the wall, but it had solidified once again.

The four others that had been waiting outside the door, burst into the room.

“Are you all right?” George asked.

“Yes, but he left before I could ask more questions,” Harry replied.

“What did he say?” Hermione asked.

“Let’s get back to headquarters before anyone finds us missing. We can talk there,” said Harry. He avoided speaking about the vault with the others who didn’t know, but the look on Ron and Hermione’s faces told him that they had heard everything. It was a good thing that only those wearing a wristwatch like Harry’s could hear the communication.

They were glad when they returned to Grimmauld Place to find that no one had found them gone. They all went to Harry’s room. Just as Harry was about to explain what Donovan had said, Tonks entered the room.

“You are here,” she said and appeared to be relieved.

“What? What’s going on?” Ron asked.

“We received a report that they had seen Harry in the Leaky Cauldron. I came to check on you as soon as I heard,” Tonks said and eyed the six teenagers suspiciously, and looked to Fred and George who simply grinned at her.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” she asked.

“I couldn’t sleep.” Hermione interjected, “so I came to see if Harry and Ron were awake and I woke Ginny in the process.”

They all were amazed at Hermione’s capability of lying on the spot like that.

“You better get to bed. It’s one in the morning and tomorrow Mrs. Weasley wants us to clean the attic. It seems some doxies have moved in again,” Tonks said and yawned.

The group groaned collectively at the mention of the task. The girls returned to their room, and the boys went to bed. They would have to talk about what Donovan had said on another occasion.

Harry lay in bed, a thousand questions pursuing each other through his mind. Why can’t Dumbledore know about the vault? Why tell him the vault was left to no one by Ellen Manston? Did Donovan know that Harry had brought a portrait from Mrs. Schellden in here, and that she had said that Ellen Manston was in fact Ellen Schellden? Instead of getting answers, Harry had been given more mysteries and unanswered questions. It wasn’t until later that he finally was able to go to sleep.


Chapter 16: The Best Ride Ever
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Chapter 16

The Best Ride Ever


The next morning the youngsters were up early since they had to do some cleaning in the attic. They were all gathered at the kitchen table having breakfast when two owls flew in and delivered the morning paper. Hermione paid her owl for her copy of the Daily Prophet, while the other owl went to Mr Weasley. Hermione was having a conversation with Ginny at that moment, so she set aside the paper for now.

Mr. Weasley picked up his cup of tea and took a sip as he unrolled the paper. He jerked involuntarily as he choked on his tea and spit it out all over Fred who was sitting across from him.

“Dad!”

“Arthur! What is the problem?” Mrs Weasley asked and rushed to help him.

Mr Weasley placed the unrolled paper on the table for all to see as he coughed; he pointed to it unable to speak.

SAY HIS NAME! IT’S VOL-DE-MORT! Harry Potter is wiser beyond his years

The large headline read above a picture of Harry, Ron, and Hermione with a canvas covered object. In the picture, Harry was stone faced and glaring at the reporters, while everyone else looked shocked and fearful. Hermione picked up her copy and began to read aloud so everyone could hear.

On Thursday, August 29th, the Daily Prophet received an anonymous tip that the Boy-Who-Lived, and two of his friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, had been kidnapped by Goblins in an incident at the Wizarding Bank of Gringotts…

Hermione skipped ahead to the important stuff.

… When asked about the allegations that the Goblins had attempted to kidnap him, Mr Potter answered that it had all been a misunderstanding. “I was kindly escorted by the security guards into Mr Gomkak’s office...” Mr Potter told the audience of gathered spectators and reporters with a calm and collected voice. He also had to say about the incident that he “just wanted to clarify whole misunderstanding…”

Towards the end of the impromptu interview, Mr Potter was asked about You-Know-Who, which caused an unexpected reaction from the youth. His friendly smile faltered, and with strength of mind that is not common among people his age he replied: “Say his name!!! It’s Vol-de-mort!” It is indescribable the amount of palpable fear registered by the crowd as everyone expected that the mention of his name would summon the Dark Lord. To this reaction Mr Potter said the following: “I think it is about time people realize that fear of the name only causes fear of the thing itself!”
It appears that the 16 year boy does not have what has crippled the rest of the Wizarding community: fear. He fears not the evil that has been considered the most greusome and powerful Dark Wizard of all times. Mr Potter was asked if he had anything to say about said Dark Wizard now that the Ministry has officially recognized his return. “I have nothing to say about that git...” Mr Potter boldly told reporters.
For several weeks now, Harry Potter has been heralded as the hope of the world. The Wizarding world now believes (despite almost a year’s worth of slander from this newspaper under previous management and the Ministry of Magic) that if there is any wizard out there who will deliver us from the evil madness of Voldemort, it is he. After all, he did defeat the Wizard when he was a mere baby, and Harry Potter is rumoured to have encountered the Dark Lord four times in five years, and has escaped him with his life. It is only logical to question the reasons why the Ministry has been reluctant to side with Mr Potter, and has done a number of things to discredit his persona. With elections up for grabs, and Minister Fudge running for re-election, it is of importance that the Wizarding community questions the efficacy of our current government. We should unanimously support our young hero. He once already rid this world of this evil; perhaps he will do so again. Let us all begin showing our support by saying our enemy’s name: It’s Voldemort. After all, the path to victory begins by facing our greatest fears.


Hermione finished reading the article and there was a stunned silence in the room.

“I can’t believe it!” George exclaimed, breaking the silence.

“Yeah, it’s shocking,” Fred added.

“It surprises me the uncharacteristic truthful nature of the article. Nothing was embellished. Even the quotes are word for word!” Hermione exclaimed.

“The Prophet was sold to a private party a week or so ago. It no longer is under Minister Fudge’s control,” Arthur replied from his chair as he wiped his glasses. “I heard at work that several of the main reporters were fired or demoted. Apparently the new ownership has refused the Ministry’s supervision of the paper as well and somehow managed to have the last bill vetoed. If it had passed, the paper and any other news source would have been heavily censored. The Prophet has now promised to publish only the truth of events that have happened. I believe today’s edition is the first one published under new management.”

“I’ll say. This is definitely a different sort of reporting,” Hermione added as she flipped the pages to see what else of intrigue was inside the pages. Definitely the paper was something completely different than what she was used to for the last five years.

“I just wish they would stop calling me a hero,” Harry huffed annoyed. He was rather pleased that his words had not been twisted to discredit him again, as was the norm with the newspaper but he felt a bit self-conscious about the hero worship. He shuddered as he pictured hundreds of little Colin Creeveys running after him.

“Ids beder den cawlimew am mliar,” Ron argued amidst mouthfuls of food.

“Ron! I can see your stomach from here! Close your mouth when you eat! Eww,” Ginny reprimanded him disgusted.

Ron glared at her while he attempted to close his mouth. It was too full of food.

“HEY Look! There are funnies in this paper!” Fred said as he snatched Mr Weasley’s copy that George was flipping through, and effectively dissipating the serious mood in the room. The Daily Prophet had eliminated the funnies several years ago when they had published a satirical comic strip about the Ministry and Minister Fudge.

Harry sat down on his chair again and picked up his spoon. He was about to take a mouthful of porridge when his scar burst into pain. It wasn’t the blinding pain that rendered him useless, but it was sharp enough to make him hiss with pain, drop the spoon and reach his hands to his forehead.

“Harry, what’s wrong!?” Molly exclaimed alarmed as she rushed to his side. Everyone else had asked the same things in different ways. They had all been startled by Harry.

Harry grimaced, and had his eyes shut tightly. He concentrated on making his mind blank, hoping to sever the connection with Voldemort. After a few seconds the pain dulled away, and he opened his eyes to look at the concerned faces around him. He surprised them all by grinning broadly, and he had a satisfied and smug look on his face.

“What is it?” Hermione asked puzzled.

“Voldemort has just read the article.”

****

After the morning’s commotion to get things ready on September 1st, Mr and Mrs Weasley took everyone to Kings Cross. As they began to pass through the barrier, Harry waited for the others to go when he felt a prickling weird sensation all over his body. His heart began to beat faster, and he felt a little dizzy for a moment. He felt also a slight warning, as if he was on alert.

“Are you all right Harry?” Hermione asked noticing him pale a bit.

“Erm, yes… just felt strange there for a moment,” Harry replied feeling his head clear up.

“Come now Hermione, you and Ginny go next,” said Mrs Weasley and encouraged Hermione to go through.

Harry watched Hermione and Ginny disappear through the barrier, and then suddenly he felt the same dizzy feeling. His body was tingling all over. He looked around for the source and his gaze was drawn to a young woman walking nearby. She had dark blonde straight hair, her pale complexion glowing under a large brimmed hat she was wearing. Harry felt a sense of… familiarity with this girl and he watched her as she walked. When she neared, the feelings in his body intensified and he began to feel hot, and sweat glistened on his palms. To Harry’s surprise, the girl began to look around, as if she suddenly felt something or someone nearby. Her pale blue eyes met Harry’s gaze and the two stared at each other for a fraction of a second. Their gaze was interrupted when a young man, cloaked in all black took the young woman by her arm and they disappeared in the crowd. The feelings coursing through him slowly decreased and altogether stopped.

“Harry? You should go through now,” said Mrs Weasley catching his attention.

“Right,” Harry said and disappeared through the barrier.

The group said their good-byes to the Weasley parents and the twins. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny boarded the train.

The group walked down the corridor looking for an empty compartment. They stopped as they reached a compartment with Neville in it.

“I saved you a spot,” Neville said enthusiastically greeting his friends.

“Hi Neville,” Harry replied. The four of them stowed some of their things away.

“Hello Ginny,” Neville said shyly and blushing.

Ginny smiled at him, and answered him with a giggle as she noticed the crook on his nose. It wasn’t funny how he got it, but it did look cute on him. “Hello Neville.”

“Come on Ron, Ginny, we have to go to the prefects meeting,” Hermione said and headed out with Ron following suit.

“I’ll see you guys later,” Ginny said and stood leaving Harry and Neville in the compartment and followed after Ron and Hermione.

“Hey, I read in the paper what happened a few weeks ago at the Weasleys’ joke shop,” Neville said and grinned at Harry. “You were brilliant. You three are so brave,” Neville said, full of admiration for Harry.

“You are just as brave Neville,” Harry said but didn’t mention the incident at the Ministry. That was when he had lost Sirius.

“I… I am sorry Harry,” said Neville to him.

“For what?” Harry asked.

“About Sirius,” Neville replied sadly. Harry was glad he didn’t say anything more.

“Thanks.”

The two of them stayed silent for a while. They both looked up when the door to the compartment opened.

“Fred! George!” Neville exclaimed, while Harry just stared at them with his jaw hanging open.

“What are you doing here?” Harry finally asked. The twins grinned at them.

“Well, it seems that—

—Now that Umbridge is gone—

—We thought better about not—

—Finishing our studies… so we came back—

—To finish our seventh year.” George and Fred finished together.

“Besides, Mum begged us to come back this year and Dumbledore asked us to return as well,” Fred added.

“Not to mention that we learnt Gringotts will only lend large sums of money to Wizards who have finished at least their seventh year education and we have plans for expanding our shop,” George interjected.

“And we also need funds to pay for the repairs to the shop. We can’t just keep coming to you for money, Harry,” Fred added, “and we want to have to resort to other sources for money as a last option,” Fred finished and smirked.

“I don’t mind lending you some money; I know you guys would pay me back. But who’s taking care of the shop?” Harry asked as he pulled out his Quidditch game that he had received from Professor McGonagall for his birthday.

“Lee’s managing it. Besides, we can Apparate now; we can sneak back into town if we have to, we just need to get out of the school boundaries,” the twins grinned mischievously and winked.

“And being members of the Order so you can keep an eye out for me didn’t influence your decision as well?” Harry asked raising an eyebrow.

“Nah, that’s just a side bonus,” Fred said as he sat down.

“Why didn’t you say anything before?” Harry asked smiling at them. It was going to be great to have the twins back at school. Harry was already thinking about Quidditch.

“We couldn’t make up our minds and we actually didn’t agree until the train was about to leave,” they said in unison.

“Mum will send our stuff directly to Hogwarts,” Fred added. “She didn’t want us going back home for our things lest we change our minds.”

The four of them chatted amiably for a while, then Fred and George began to talk about some new idea they had, while Harry showed Neville the game.

“How does it work?” Neville asked intrigued.

“You pick a team then you pick a player on the team to command. You can play against another person’s team or just a team by yourself. Here, I’ll show you,” Harry said as he picked the black team, while Neville picked the blue team.

Two miniature sets of Quidditch teams, one clothed in black uniforms, the other in blue, came out to the little miniature pitch.

“See these controllers?” Harry showed Neville a pad to be held on the hands with buttons on it. In Harry’s mind, he compared it to the Muggle video games console with controllers, except this was the magical version. His cousin had a PlayStation at home, and Harry once had played a game on a Nintendo 64 which Dudley had left on while they had been gone.

“With this button you make your players fly, this one is for the direction. This is the action button, so if you are a chaser you catch and pass the Quaffle with this button, and a Beater swings the bat if you press the button, and so on. This button will let you switch from player to player,” Harry began to explain but he saw the puzzled look on Neville. “Let’s play a practice game. I think it’s easier to learn that way,” Harry encouraged and the two began to play.

Both Ron and Hermione returned to the surprise of the Weasley twins going back to school. Ginny also later returned with Luna, and she too was dumfounded at their return. Luna simply smiled in her dreamy way and said, “I think that the Wipelsies will be happy that you are back. They had never had so much fun since the last pranksters had been at Hogwarts years ago.”

Everyone just stared at her, and then Hermione turned to the twins. “You better not be causing problems or I’ll have to report you to Dumbledore,” she threatened. “And no testing new items on first, second, third, or fourth years,” she added.

“Soooo, fifth, sixth and seventh years aren’t off limits?” Fred asked grinning madly, while George exclaimed, “Excellent,” as he rubbed his hands together.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “They are old enough to make their own mistakes, the others, on the other hand, can be easily influenced by a seventh year student,” she replied.

Conversations flowed easily in the compartment, and other people stopped by to visit. Seamus Finnigan and the Creevey brothers stopped at some time. Padma and Parvati Patil joined them for a few moments as well. At some point or another, all of the members of the DA had called by their compartment, with the exception of Marietta. Zacharias Smith had paid them a visit, although Harry had the impression that he hadn’t really wanted to be there. Even Cho had come to say hello, but it had been an awkward moment. She informed Harry that she no longer dated Michael Corner, and Harry had been stumped trying to find a reply. Harry didn’t bring the subject of the DA up, although he could tell that many were itching to ask.

Ron had glared at Dean who seemed to be getting too chummy with Ginny. He had grinned in a satisfied manner when Fred and George threatened him (while Ginny had been distracted, of course). The Quidditch game had been a success with most of the boys, and a few of the girls who played Quidditch had given it a try.

Soon it was only Ron and Harry playing their second game of chess, while Hermione read a book. Ginny and Luna had gone somewhere, whilst Fred and George were at another compartment getting acquainted with the 7th years. Everyone from their year had left school, but they still had some friends from sixth year last year who now were 7th years. Neville had left searching for his toad again, and the rest had returned to their own compartments.

As Harry’s bishop overtook Ron’s knight, Harry began to feel that weird sensation in his body again. This time, there was also a soft ringing in his ears, as if little bells and whistles were going off inside his head, but the noise was not unpleasant. The sensations felt as if they were getting stronger, and he had the distinct feeling that someone was approaching. As the feeling in his body intensified, the door to the compartment opened. Harry expected to see the same young woman he had seen in the train station earlier that day. However, it wasn’t her, it was Fred. Harry’s tingling sensation began to diminish. Harry blinked twice when he looked over at Fred.

“You should have seen it! It was bloody brilliant,” exclaimed Fred, his hair was dishevelled, one of his arms had grown a thick pelt of hair, and he was actually missing one eyebrow.

“What was brilliant?” Ron asked without looking up, knowing that anything that made his brother this happy either involved a new joke or prank or a Slytherin had been hexed.

“Fred! What happened to you?” Hermione exclaimed noticing his appearance. Ron’s head snapped up to look at him.

“I was over in the third rail car with Becky and Bertie when we heard this bang, so, we go out into the corridor to see what was happening, and there was this girl hexing Malfoy. I’ve never seen her before, so I thought maybe I was seeing things, or maybe I had fallen asleep and she was some sort of golden haired goddess sent to rid of Malfoy for good,” Fred said in a dreamy way, “so I, of course, prostrated myself at her feet to worship…” Fred laughed., “But Crabbe and Goyle came out of their compartment and they started hexing people left and right, and well… all hell broke loose! I lost track of the girl when Goyle tried to hex me, but I thought she came this way, I really wanted to get an autograph or something… anyway… I think the head boy asked that the Prefects go over and help. It seems that by the end of the fight, there were quite a few people from each house that took part in it. I barely escaped…”

Hermione slammed her book shut. “We better go and help,” she said standing up. Ron groaned as he too stood up. Harry grinned, he was glad since Ron was beating him at chess (as usual). He also really liked the idea of Malfoy and his goons being hexed.

“Did she at least get him good?” Ron asked as he made his way past Fred.

“Oh yes, that’s what was so bloody brilliant! I don’t know how she did it exactly, but Malfoy sprouted long ears, and his face stretched out. He looked like an ass! And to top it off, there was a little pointed hat that flashed the words ‘Dunce I am’, then he tried to hex her but only a loud ‘WHEEEE HAWW’ escaped his lips!” Fred said amidst guffaws of laughter.

Not even Hermione could help the fit of laughter that overtook her. After they laughed, Hermione wiped the tears from her cheeks.

“Thanks, I needed that…” Ron said to Fred as Hermione began to pull him along to go up to the front of the train and see if they could help. Hermione turned before she left the compartment.

“You ought to look into doing something about that,” she said pointing to Fred’s arm. “I am sure it will be quite obvious that you were in the fight once anyone sees you… there’s a book in my bag with simple cure spells,” she said and smirked before she closed the compartment door.

Fred sniffed and pretended to wipe a tear from his eye, “Our own Hermione covering up for a guilty transgressor, I’m so proud of her…”
Harry laughed. This had definitely been one of the best train rides back to Hogwarts.


Chapter 17: Sorting Surprises
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Chapter 17

Sorting Surprises


The Hogwarts Express pulled to a stop when they reached the Hogsmeade station and the students unloaded from the train with all of their belongings.

Harry and the others waved at Hagrid as he retrieved the first years. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Fred, who was back to normal thanks to Hermione, made their way to the carriages. Ginny joined them a few moments later. As they neared the carriages, Harry’s senses began to pick up that presence, the hair on his body began to stand up. He began to look around for the girl. Instead, he saw Malfoy striding towards him with Crabbe and Goyle in tow. Pansy Parkinson was with them as well.

“Of course, she would have to run to the Weasel scum and the mudblood lover,” Draco sneered when he noticed the girl, who was actually standing just behind Harry waiting for a carriage, she was trying to talk to Neville asking him where she needed to go now. Harry hadn’t known she was behind him.

“Sod off Malfoy!” Harry spat and his hand moved automatically to his wand.

“Ooooh, Potter’s got a girlfriend,” Pansy said to him and pointed to the girl, who had noticed Draco and had pulled out her wand. She was walking to get around Harry to get to Malfoy.

“So you need Scarface here to defend you huh?” Draco mocked the girl.

“Je n’ai pas le besoin de protection. Je peux defend myself,” the blonde girl spoke but before she could do anything, Draco yelled “Accio wands” and the group, caught off-guard, had their wands flying out of their hands.

“Give ze back!” Josephine demanded.

“Or what?” Draco taunted her.

Harry was feeling slightly nauseated with the girl so close to him.

“Look, Potter’s about to faint!” Crabbe pointed at Harry. The girl turned to look at Harry, and their eyes met again. Suddenly, the sensation plaguing him almost disappeared, and his head cleared. He could still feel the weirdness, but it was as if someone had turned the volume down.

“Someone better carry Potter to the Hospital Wing before he passes out,” Malfoy taunted and pretended to faint. Harry glared at Malfoy and vehemently wished to hex him, but at the moment Malfoy was holding his wand.

The blonde girl narrowed her eyes, how this idiot irritated her! She wished she could slap him. Draco began to panic as he realized he was being levitated off the ground.

The girl seemed startled to see this happen.

“Put me down!” Draco screamed at them trying to see who was levitating him. Only Hermione noticed the girl make a fist, and Malfoy dropped none too gently onto the ground.

Draco scurried to get up. He was enraged and humiliated, so he advanced on the first person he focused on with his wand outstretched; the blonde girl lifted her hands in front of her in self defense.

“Non!” she said in instinct response and suddenly Draco tripped and landed face first on the still wet ground. It had rained just before they arrived, and now his nice robes were covered in mud. Ginny walked right next to him and picked up the wands he had taken from them, and gave them to their owners.

“Clumsy ferret,” she said to him and the whole crowd exploded with laughter. They laughed even louder when Fred began to say with a loud voice “HEEEE HAWWW, HEEEE HAWWW.” Draco glared daggers at the group, and then rushed past completely humiliated.

“You will all pay for this!” he spat at them as he passed. “Especially you!” He pointed to the girl.

“That was brilliant!” Ron said amidst his laughter.

Harry barely paid attention to him because he was staring at the girl. He had felt that surge of power in her, and he knew that she had used magic to levitate Malfoy, and it had been intoxicating. He looked at her beautiful face and was confronted by mixed emotions. Was she part enchantress? He wondered.

“You just did wandless magic!” Hermione said astounded to the girl.

The girl turned to face Hermione, her blue eyes looking at her with shock. She had noticed.

“Zhis ‘as only ‘appened once before, and not like zhis. Zhis time eet felt more powerful,” she replied. Hermione was trying to discern if she was hiding something.

“I have read that wandless magic is nearly impossible for a wizard or witch to learn without training. They are very rare, those who have been able to do so in centuries. In fact, it has been so long since anyone has truly wielded wandless magic, that it is considered a myth!” Hermione exclaimed.

The girl looked uncomfortable, she frowned “Zhe only time that eet happened was when…” she began but trailed off… “I had no control over eet. Eet just ‘appened, I never was able to make eet ’appen. But now, I felt a bit more in control,” she said and seemed to be thinking about it more deeply.

“Miss Bellou?” The group turned around to see Professor McGonagall walking towards them. They had never seen the Professor at the Hogsmeade station before.

“Oui?” The girl replied.

“Come with me, Professor Dumbledore wishes to see you before the sorting,” Professor McGonagall said arriving near the group. The girl nodded and walked over by Neville where she had set her things down before Malfoy had interrupted her.

“Good evening Professor,” Hermione said to the old witch.

“Good evening everyone,” Professor McGonagall replied. “We will see you at the feast,” she said as she led the girl to a carriage waiting for them.

“We better get a carriage, or there won’t be any left,” Ron reminded the group.

Harry stared at the winged creatures dragging the carriages. He closed his eyes and sadly remembered why he could see them in the first place. His stomach gave a pang as he realized that he now could add Sirius’ death to the list of people that he had witnessed die. He noticed then that the new girl was looking at the winged creatures with sadness as well. Professor McGonagall motioned her over to enter the carriage. As if she had felt Harry’s eyes on her, the girl turned to look at Harry. He looked at her and they locked eyes with each other again. Harry had a yearning to reach for her, to touch her, to feel her close. He wanted to protect her. She was so delicate. She smiled at him and entered the carriage. Harry shook his head to dispel his thoughts.

Hermione went into the carriage and called to Harry to get his attention. She asked him something. He tried to think the words to respond to her, but he choked on his words, and mumbled something incoherent as he tried to climb into the carriage.

Ginny giggled at him, and Harry blushed deeply. Harry sat in the carriage with Ron, Hermione, Fred, and Ginny, who teased him.

“Where is George?” Harry asked trying to change the subject.

“Oh, he saw this cute Ravenclaw girl and went after her, Jane Lambert I think,” Fred said as he shrugged.

“Isn’t he going out with Angelina Johnson?” Ginny asked.

“I am not sure if they are anymore, although last time I saw Angelina I had to break the news after we kissed for a while that I was Fred, not George,” He chuckled.

“Fred!” Ginny exclaimed in horror.

“I am just teasing, she did confuse us, but I set her straight before she kissed me,” he said and laughed.

“Wasn’t Angelina your girlfriend?” Harry asked a bit confused.

“What? Oh yeah, during fifth year, we dated for a while after we went to the Yule Ball, but nothing serious. We’re just friends now,” Fred said dismissively.

Hermione paid no attention to the conversation and watched as Harry looked out of the carriage. She could see where he was looking at. Going around the curve ahead, she could see the carriage that had that new girl and Professor McGonagall in it. Hermione could see the blond head of the girl, and she was staring right back at Harry.

Hermione frowned slightly as she noticed them. Hermione didn’t know what to think and turned away to gaze out of the other window. She had her suspicions about this new girl. She was not aware of the hurt in Ron’s face as he had watched her looking at Harry. Why did Harry have to get everything Ron always wanted?

Finally, the carriage arrived at Hogwarts and the students ran to get inside. It had started to rain once again, but it wasn’t particularly heavy.

The students filled the great hall, and Harry sat at the Gryffindor table and looked around the room. He didn’t see the new girl in there yet, but he began to feel that tingling in his body again. He turned to the door and soon saw the new girl as she walked next to a 7th year Hufflepuff.

“Oh, c’est tres jollie!” the girl exclaimed with wonder as she gazed at the enchanted ceiling. Harry heard Anne Guildford reply and they began to speak rapidly in French. Anne guided the blonde girl to the Hufflepuff table and they sat close to front.

“Welcome to another year at Hogwarts… let the sorting begin,” Dumbledore said and in came Professor McGonagall guiding the first year students into the Great Hall. The whole school listened to the Sorting hat’s song which was darker than previous years and contained the same message of unity among the houses. The school watched an applauded as a new student was sorted into each house.

“Amsel, Jeanine.” Professor McGonagall called the firs student.

“Ravenclaw,” the hat screamed after a few seconds.

The Ravenclaw table erupted in cheers.

Harry was kind of ignoring the sorting when the next name that was shouted caught much attention.

“Malfoy, Bianca”

The Gryffindors all snapped their attention to see a young girl, with long, light blonde hair make her way nervously to the stool. Harry saw her and thought she was rather pretty; she was tall for her age, and slender. She nervously moved the sheet pale hair behind her shoulders, and looked straight ahead. Harry could see her perfect nose, and he chin. She walked with an air of dignity, yet to Harry she didn’t seem to be carrying herself with the arrogance of her brother. Harry noticed her long, slender fingers fidget as she sat upon the stool. Too bad she was a Malfoy. Bianca shyly blushed as the hat was placed on her head, her face almost disappearing inside of it. Most of the school had begun to not pay attention since she would end up in Slytherin anyway. The hat opened his mouth and the Slytherins began to cheer but only for a split second, then the whole school became silent when the hat screamed:

“Gryffindor!”

The Gryffindors were staring, gaping, at the girl in front who sat on her stool shocked as Professor McGonagall lifted the hat from her head.

“No! No… please...” the girl began to mutter. “I’m a Slytherin… I’m supposed to be in Slytherin… oh Father is going to kill me,” she began to repeat trembling with fear as she stared at her brother, who glared with complete and obvious disbelief.

“Miss Malfoy, please take your seat,” McGonagall encouraged.

Little Bianca looked at her brother for help.

“This is ridiculous!” Draco yelled getting up. “She is a Malfoy! A Slytherin… this is unacceptable!” He stormed up to the front.

“Mr Malfoy, you will take your seat unless you want to lose your house some points on your first day here,” Professor McGonagall said to him. “The sorting hat has placed her in Gryffindor, and Gryffindor it shall be. Now, both of you, to your seat!” She said and Bianca scurried in fear towards the Gryffindor table but stopped suddenly as she took in the glaring group.

She looked back to see Draco glaring at her from his own house table. The students at Gryffindor didn’t know what to do and for a moment, the hall was filled with tension. Ginny and Hermione felt pity for the poor, young scared girl who was rooted to her spot, Malfoy or no. They looked at each other. Ginny was the first to get up and began to clap, with Hermione following a split second later. Harry smiled at their bravery, and he too stood up and clapped. Soon, most of the table had begun clapping, although not with much enthusiasm. No one really cheered. She was a Malfoy, and Malfoys didn’t belong in Gryffindor. Hermione had to kick Ron in the shins, and he glared at her. He refused to get up, but gave in clapping halfheartedly for the young girl.

Ginny motioned for the girl to come and opened the seat next to her, when no one else did. Bianca sat down, her face flushed. She looked down at her hands, and only nodded or shook her head when Ginny tried to engage her in conversation.

“Here, let me introduce you to these guys,” Ginny offered.

“These are my brothers Fred and George, they are seventh years,”

The twins were glaring with hostility at the girl. Ginny glared at them with a warning, and the twins decided to huddle and focus on something else.

“And this is my brother Ron, he’s in sixth year.”

Ron too had a nasty glare in his eyes. Ginny moved along, “this is Harry Potter…” Ginny pointed to Harry, and Bianca looked up to see him, her eyes wide with amazement, which automatically went to his scar, then she blushed and turned to look back at her hands. “And the smartest witch in school, Hermione Granger.” Hermione blushed.

Bianca couldn’t help the words she blurted out “You’re the mudblood!?” She said astonished. Hermione scowled, along with the rest of the group that heard her as well.
.
“No… I’m sorry… I didn’t mean it like that… I… I just…” Bianca stuttered to apologize. Harry was surprised to see a Malfoy apologizing. Ron was so mad, he was unable to say something at the moment, and settled for giving her a death glare. Bianca blushed and mumbled something.

“What did she say?” Hermione asked irritated.

“Erm, she said she had just never seen one before,” Ginny said a bit dumbfounded.

“Seen a what?” Harry asked Bianca.

Bianca looked up terrified… “A mud… uhm, muggle born witch. I… just imagined they looked different,” she said blushing an even deeper shade of red, and turned to observe her hands.

“What did you think they look like?” Hermione asked with anger.

“I don’t know… my family always says terrible things about muggles, and said that mud… erm… muggle born are worse. I just thought… I don’t know… I thought they all looked horrible or something. I’ve never met a muggle before… and Draco… he doesn’t say nice things about you,” she said to Hermione.

“What do you think now?” Hermione asked still irritated. “Have you taken a good look at me?” She crossed her arms.

Bianca mumbled something.

“What?”

“I said I think you are very pretty,” Bianca replied a bit louder and without looking up.

The group was silent, stunned, for a moment. They looked at each other. Ginny observed the little girl, maybe she wouldn’t turn out to be like her brother. Ginny decided to leave her be for now and changed the topic. Bianca was grateful for the lack of attention on her, although she could still hear her name in conversations around her. The school was a buzz of conversation and hardly anyone paid attention to the rest of the sorting. All of the first years were sorted and McGonagall called one more.

“Josephine Bellou,” McGonagall called for the last student on the list.

Joséphine stood up from the Hufflepyff table and walked to the front; she sat on the stool and McGonagall placed the hat on her head. Harry watched with interest.

“Mmmmh…” The hat murmured with interest.

“Slytherin?” he questioned aloud and the Slytherin table erupted into cheers.

But Joséphine didn’t stand, and the hat was still lost in thought. The cheering at the Slytherin table finally subsided, and the school began to murmur.

Minerva turned to look at Dumbledore, but Dumbledore just shrugged.

“Not a Slytherin, ey? How would you do in Ravenclaw?” the hat pondered aloud.

“I can not sort, so I must say, choose not a Ravenclaw, nor a Slytherin, not a Gryffindor, nor a Hufflepuff I will.”



Chapter 18: Sorting Revelations
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Chapter 18

Sorting Revelations


The great hall was filled with stunned silence as the whole school stared at the girl with the Hat in confusion. Joséphine opened her eyes and looked around.

Dumbledore stood and walked around the head table then stood next to the girl with the Hat.

“Sorting Hat, I am afraid you have made a mistake… you must sort this student in order for her to be in a house,” Dumbledore spoke amused.

The Hat looked deeply lost in thought. “Yes, yes… I know Albus… but… may I have a word with you, in private?”

The school began to murmur excitedly. They had never, ever heard the Sorting Hat utter any other words besides the names of each house, or the song he sang at the beginning of each year. Of course, every one of them knew the inner voice they’d heard in their own heads. It was just as shocking to see this turn of events.

“Certainly,” Dumbledore replied and took the Hat from Joséphine, placing it on his own head. The students watched as both the Hat and Dumbledore seemed lost in thought.

“What do you think is going on?” Ron queried, feeling a little irritated. He was ravenous and they were holding up the feast.

“I don’t know,” Harry shrugged, but he too was wondering. The girl was looking around at the different houses in each of their tables.

“Well, this has never happened before,” Hermione chimed in confidently.

“How do you kno… wait,” Ron put up his hands, “I know…” he said then mimicked Hermione, “Honestly Ron! You need to read Hogwarts: a History!”

Harry chuckled at this, and Hermione fumed while she crossed her arms. “It’s true, you would know, if only you read the damn book,” she replied sounding quite annoyed.

“I don’t have to as long as I have you around,” Ron piped up as he looked back at the table with longing. Harry thought that he was willing food to appear in front oh him.

The trio turned to look at the headmaster with the Sorting Hat still on his head.

“I must say you are causing quite the stir,” Dumbledore began.

“I am aware of that,” the Hat replied inside the headmaster’s head, “but I was not created to sort her kind. Witches and Wizards, Warlocks and Sorcerers I will sort, but I have never before been able to sort a Mage of her kind,” the Hat replied.

“A Mage?” Dumbledore exclaimed, startled. Dumbledore was never caught off guard easily and he chuckled at his own surprise. “Ah, of course. Hogwarts has never in its life been home to a Mage before,” he added.

“You misunderstand me, Headmaster. I was not created to sort Mages, but I have sorted many Elemental Mages before, and did so recently dare I say. I said I have never met a Mage of her kind. She is a Daiteran Mage. Her kind is believed a myth since the days of old. Harry on the other hand is an Elemental Mage, and it was easy to see which houses he would do best in,” the Hat replied.


The whole school watched as Dumbledore opened his eyes, full of surprise, then his features turned to a smile and his eyes sparkled brightly. His eyes flickered to Harry for a moment. Harry felt that somehow something had been said that involved him. The whole school had seen where Dumbledore looked and now they stared at him.

Great! Harry thought, just what he needed: Another reason for the wizarding world to stare at him. But what was it this time? Harry turned his head to look back defiantly at those who stared. The temperature in the room seemed to suddenly heat up when Harry noticed that mostly the female population was looking at him: some giving him the once over. Was it just him, or were girls waving at him and giggling wherever he looked. Harry quickly turned to face Dumbledore, but now more than ever he could feel loads of eyes on him, and he had a vague idea that most of them were still girls.

“You will never cease to amaze me, Sorting Hat,” Dumbledore said aloud driving the attention away from Harry, although several people could not stop staring at him.

“Is there no chance of sorting this young lady then?” Dumbledore asked.

“Our choices are what define us,” the Hat replied.

“Very well…”


“Miss Bellou, take a moment to finish the sorting,” Dumbledore said as he pulled the Hat from his head, and placed it onto hers.

Make your choice.

Joséphine looked to the tables with the four different houses. She definitely didn’t want to be in Slytherin, seeing that idiot with the blonde hair–what was his name? Malfoy?—he was glaring at her, and others in that house as well. The hat chuckled. Hufflepuff? The Hat questioned. The Hufflepuff table seemed friendly enough and she smiled at them. Anne waved at her enthusiastically. It would be nice to have someone around who spoke her language. Joséphine glanced at the Ravenclaws. She had read about each of the houses and Ravenclaw had struck her as too intellectual for her. She had thought about being in Slytherin, but not anymore with Malfoy there. What about Gryffindor? the Hat murmured.
Gryffindor… well, Gryffindors were well known for their knack of getting into real trouble, having the most fun, being the bravest of them all and, above all, it was the house of Harry Potter.

“Mmmh, your mind is quite tricky, and it wouldn’t hurt to really let me in… no? You could do great things in Ravenclaw as well... Ah, I see. In that case…”

Joséphine closed her eyes as the hat screamed “GRYFFINDOR”. Cheers erupted from the table as they realized she was to be in their house. Joséphine stood up, gingerly took off the Sorting Hat then handed it to Professor McGonagall. She turned and began to walk towards the cheering table. She smiled; it was a broad, genuine smile of pleasure that really lit up her features. Her smile dazzled some of the older boys and Harry felt a knot in his stomach as he watched her walking towards the table. He had to fight this urge to go to her and hug her. He didn’t know why she caused these weird sensations in him.

Fred shoved George to make room for Joséphine and motioned her over. George glared at Fred as Fred moved over, leaving room between him and some little first year. Joséphine smiled looking at both of the twins. She sat down between Fred and the little new first year student. The boy blushed when she looked at him and turned to stare at his plate. Fred began to introduce himself.

At the head Table, Dumbledore spoke. “Well, I will not keep you long,” he said as he cleared his throat. “I just have a few announcements…”

Several people groaned. “Come on get on with it!” Ron mumbled under his breath.

“…The forest on the grounds is forbidden to all. Please remember that magic is not allowed in the hallways, and Mr Filch has posted the new list of the 745 items that will be confiscated if found on a student in his office …”

“Why couldn’t he wait to say that after the!feast?” Ron now growled as his stomach joined in the complaint. Harry laughed, while Hermione rolled her eyes.

Dumbledore continued… “Fourth years and up may remember Professor Remus Lupin who taught Defence Against the Dark Arts several years before…”

Harry’s head whirled to look at the head table. He hadn’t seen Lupin sitting there before, although he had noticed that Professor Flitwick had been missing, and that there had been an additional two empty spaces at the table. He now saw Remus sitting in the space where Professor Flitwick should have been. Remus had just walked into Great Hall from a door behind the head table while Harry had been busy staring at Joséphine as she walked to sit next to Fred.

“…has returned to our staff to substitute for Professor Flitwick who will be absent during the first part of this year. Please make him welcome once again,” Dumbledore introduced Lupin again and the school erupted in cheers as he stood up and nodded towards the student population. Slytherin was the only house not cheering, of course.

“Also, we have two new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professors for this year; unfortunately neither of them will be able to join us until tomorrow morning. They have been detained with Ministry business, but you will meet them during your first class of the school year. Now, let’s enjoy this feast. Tuck in!” Dumbledore finished his speech and the students began to eat.

Ron dived into his food the moment it appeared, and Hermione rolled her eyes. “Honestly!”

Just then, Dumbledore appeared next to the group.

“Miss Bellou, would you please come into my office after the feast? I would like a word with you.”

“Oui Professeur,” she replied and Dumbledore turned to Harry. “Harry, would you be able to stop by my office before breakfast tomorrow morning?”

“Certainly Professor,” Harry answered, intrigued as to why Dumbledore wished to speak with him. Dumbledore nodded and turned to leave.

“Oh, the password is ‘Ton-Tongue Toffees’,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes and walked away.

They all turned to look at the twins. They grinned and shrugged.

“—he has been one of our best customers—”

“—yes, loves the Canary Creams, and the Chicken Puffs—”

“—and is absolutely delighted with the toy wands, the rubber chicken is his favourite—”

After the meal was over, Ginny and Derek Finnelas, the other 5th year prefect, began to gather the first year Gryffindors in order to guide them to Gryffindor tower. Fred offered to show Joséphine her way to the headmaster’s office. Harry watched them go, and began to walk back to the common room. Ron and Hermione had gone somewhere for Prefects’ duty.

“Harry,” a voice called as Harry headed towards the doors of the Great Hall. He turned around to see Remus Lupin walking towards him with a grin.

“Remus… erm… I mean, Professor Lupin…” Harry said with a pleased smile and somewhat excited that Remus was back to school. “Why didn’t you tell me before that you were coming back to Hogwarts?”

“Well, it wasn’t really certain. Flitwick informed Dumbledore that he needed to leave to visit his mother, who’s suffering the last of a terminal illness. Dumbledore had someone else lined up to substitute for him, but at the last minute she had to withdraw. Dumbledore asked the advisory board about his decision to appoint me. There was, as you can imagine, quite the uproar about the whole issue. They naturally denied my appointment, but just this morning they seemed to have changed their minds. That’s why I arrived a little bit late,” Lupin explained.

“What would have caused them to change their minds?” Harry asked with incredulity.

Remus smirked. “You know your friend? Rita Skeeter?”

Harry scowled. “What’s that old cow having anything to do with it?”

“She wrote this nice little article in The Quibbler about Werewolves. It appears that ever since she wrote that article about you last year, her skill has been sought after. Most of her articles are now believed without question, even more than before, since everything you told in your interview turned out to be true. You gave her career quite a jolt! I heard she just got hired as a free-lance writer for The New Daily Prophet.”

“WHAT?”

“She has actually cleaned up her act.”

“I doubt that,” Harry said scornfully.

“No, really! Seems like Dumbledore has made some sort of deal with her…”

“You must be joking, right?! How could he?” Harry said, feeling rather betrayed.

“I’m not. It seems that word leaked out to the Ministry that she was an unregistered Animagus. They almost hauled her out to Azkaban, but Dumbledore intervened. She’s registered now, and owes her freedom to Dumbledore,” Lupin explained as the pair began to make their way out of the Great Hall.

Lupin continued, “Rita Skeeter is resourceful and Dumbledore believes that she may be of invaluable help in …” Lupin stopped walking as he seemed to focus on several people standing in the Entrance Hall. Harry looked towards where Remus was looking.

Professor Dumbledore was by the great oak doors and greeting two people covered with heavy travelling cloaks, hoods covering their faces. One was slightly taller than the other, and was wearing a long black cloak; the other one’s cloak was a vivid yellow in colour and it contrasted strongly against the black. To add to the display of colour were Dumbledore’s bright purple Wizarding robes. Filch seemed to be trying to lift one of many heavy crates onto a large floating trolley which was loaded with other trunks and some covered owl cages. He was apparently to show the newcomers their accommodations.

“Are those the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professors?” Harry asked with curiosity.

Remus didn’t seem to hear him as he stared with narrowed eyes at the pair, and sniffed as if he had caught a whiff of their scent. At that moment, Filch dropped the heavy crate, and it split open. Several of the students that had been lingering around watching the new people gasped. Harry’s eyes opened wide. An unbelievable amount of dangerous looking weapons had spilled from the crate. A long, thin rod of shiny metal slid its way towards them. Harry heard Lupin’s barely audible gasp, and he was shocked to notice the flicker of terror that crossed Remus’ face. Lupin seemed to pale. Harry had also noticed the involuntary shudder that passed through his new Charms professor. Harry looked back towards Filch, whose face seemed like someone who had won the lottery upon seeing so many weapons, and he recognised the object of Lupin’s terror. Glinting with the reflection of the firelight from the many torches that lined up the wall, the slim silver arrow seemed to be glaring threateningly at them.

“Is that…?”

“Silver,” Remus whispered, unable to hide a trickle of fear that seemed to be mixed in his word.

Harry watched as Professor Dumbledore righted everything with the flick of his wand, the silver arrow slowly floated back to the crate. Professor Dumbledore motioned the two new Professors onward. The tall man in the black cloak walked next to Professor Dumbledore. The one in the yellow cloak seemed bombarded by questions from Filch. As they neared the stairs, Harry could hear Filch boasting about several of the contraptions that he had in his own dungeon office. Harry saw the one in the yellow cloak nod to Filch, and then the yellow hooded face turned towards Harry and Remus. The obscure face seemed to gaze at them forever as Remus and Harry watched the person reach the bottom of the grand staircase. Dumbledore and the man in black were already halfway up the staircase. Harry noticed the visible chin, and lips of the one looking at them. They seemed quite delicate; the white porcelain skin was glowing with red lips contrasting against the fair skin. Harry was startled to realize that the person was a woman. His thoughts were confirmed when he noticed the woman place a foot on the bottom step, and he could clearly see a bright yellow high heeled boot. The woman nodded to them, and proceeded to walk up the stairs. Filch was trailing behind her, pulling the cord to guide the floating trolley.

“Remus? Are you all right?” Harry asked now that the new people had gone.

Lupin seemed to sigh. “Yes, I’m fine. It’s always a shock to see silver, and it is quite disconcerting to actually see a silver arrow.” He involuntarily shuddered again.

“Are you worried that the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor has silver arrows?” Harry asked with unease. He was wondering why that crate was full of so many weapons, some of which, Harry thought, seemed more Muggle-ish than magical. It also didn’t seem like a coincidence.

Remus seemed to think for a moment. “Dumbledore didn’t appear to be worried about it.”

“Maybe he didn’t notice?” Harry asked, smiling a little at Remus’ evasive answer.

“He noticed, he righted the crate himself and took the arrows that Filch had picked up,” Remus answered, “but anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I am looking forward to teaching you and your friends again. You better head back to the common room and get settled in. I still have to unpack, and I am already behind on some notes for my first class tomorrow. Good night, Harry.”

“Good night, Remus,” Harry waved and Lupin smiled.

“It’ll have to go back to Professor again.”

Harry grinned. “Good night, Professor,” he said and turned to go. He hesitated for a moment, and turned back to Professor Lupin. “I am really happy to have you back…”

Remus nodded and smiled sadly. He knew that Harry still struggled sometimes with the loss of Sirius, and that Lupin was now the only Marauder, the only true Marauder, left. He placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “I’m here whenever you need me. I know I will never be able to replace Sirius, and even though the Ministry denied me the right to be your guardian, I still take that responsibility. Sirius did me a great honour and I won’t disappoint him.” Harry couldn’t answer because of the huge lump in his throat; he only nodded and turned to go.

Remus watched Harry walk up the staircase; Remus also struggled. Before, when Sirius had been sent to Azkaban, Remus had long ago made his piece with his loss. But it was much worse now to have got his best friend back, only to have him taken forever. This time there was no hope of redemption.


Chapter 19: Dreams of Black, White, and Shades of Grey
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A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read this, and to those of you who've reviewed! Your words are an encouragement to me! Here's the next part. TTFN

Chapter 19

Dreams of Black, White, and Shades of Gray


Bianca Malfoy walked next to Ginny as other students glared at her. A few of the older students taunted the young girl and she hid behind Ginny, who defended her. As the group walked down the hall to the moving staircases, Draco Malfoy caught up to them.

“Bianca!” he called and the girl stopped. Ginny turned to face Malfoy.

“What do you want, Malfoy? You are holding us up,” Ginny said, her hands on her hips in what Fred called her ‘Molly-ish way’.

“I’m not talking to you, weasel,” Draco spat. He was obviously in a very bad mood.

Ginny turned to Derek, the other 5th year Prefect. “Guide them up to the tower. I’ll wait for Bianca,” she said and Derek led away the large number of first years. It seemed that many parents had wanted to send their children to school now that Voldemort was officially back. A lot of them remembered those dark days when Voldemort had been in power. They had known then that Hogwarts was the safest place in the Wizarding world, and now they knew their children could be better protected by Dumbledore. It was also a result of a false sense of security that, despite the fact that the Ministry had conceded to Voldemort’s return, said Dark Wizard had yet to do anything. It definitely wasn’t like it used to be when he was in power 16-20 years ago.

Bianca was now with Draco, and Ginny waited a few paces away. She was quite annoyed at the things Draco was yelling at Bianca until she had enough.

“… and keep away from the mudblood lover and his mudblood bitch,” Draco warned a cowering Bianca.

“We need to go, now!” Ginny exclaimed walking towards the pair.

“This is none of your business,” Draco spat at her.

“Oh yes it is. I am supposed to take your sister to her dormitory, and you are holding her up, ferret,” Ginny said wrapping her hand around her wand and pointing it straight at Draco.

Bianca stared at Ginny with horror. She could not believe that anyone ever spoke to Draco like that; but the truth was that Bianca had never been around anyone else besides Tinky, her mother, and her aunt.

“You filthy…”

“Is there a problem, Mr Malfoy?” Professor Dumbledore asked, walking down the hallway towards them. Everyone noticed the ominous and cloaked wizard that stood a few paces behind Professor Dumbledore.

“No Professor,” Malfoy replied pocketing his wand.

Ginny spoke then, “Malfoy was just wishing goodnight to his little sister. We were about to leave, Professor.” Ginny grabbed Bianca’s hand. “Come on, I’ll show you how to get to Gryffindor. Good night Professor, Ferret,” Ginny said and left. Malfoy clenched his fist and gritted his teeth in anger. Dumbledore’s eyes simply twinkled as he looked through his half moon spectacles. Malfoy turned around, didn’t even bother to answer Dumbledore, and headed back to the dungeons.

****

When Harry returned to the common room it was almost deserted. Most people were inside their rooms unpacking. He noticed Ginny saying a few words with Bianca Malfoy as she showed her to her room. Ginny waved at him, and Harry waved back. He walked up the staircase to his dormitory, and paused in front of the door, which bore a new sign that said ‘sixth year dormitory’. He smiled weakly; he was, once again, home.

He entered to find Seamus and Dean arguing about something. Soon enough Harry knew that Dean was trying to compare his favourite football team, West Ham, with Seamus’ Quidditch team. Seamus was feeling offended by it.

“Will you two shut up!?” Neville said sounding exasperated. “You are upsetting my Mimbletonia!”

Harry turned to look at the potted plant on Neville’s bedside table and, sure enough, it seemed to be quivering and emitting some alarmed noises. Neville was patting it reassuringly.

Seamus and Dean stopped arguing and turned to look at Neville. There was silence for a split second, and then they burst out laughing.

“It’s not funny! Mimby is not mature enough to defend herself! That’s why she’s quivering… she’s…”

“Mimby?” Dean questioned and laughed harder.

“Hey! HEY!” Harry finally stepped in. “Leave Neville alone,” he said and watched them stop laughing and then apologize to Neville. Harry was a little surprised that they had actually listened to him.

“Listen Neville, we didn’t mean anything by it,” Dean began walking closer to Neville. The potted plant seemed to be calming.

“So you really named it Mimby?” Seamus asked, and this time he didn’t laugh.

Neville blushed, “Yeah, I found out that my Mimbletonia is a female, and they are really smart. Sometimes I think she reacts to my moods, and, well… I dunno… I guess I just started calling her Mimby… I guess that’s a bit stupid, huh?” Neville said grinning, clearly embarrassed.

“No, it’s not stupid!” Seamus said to Neville. “Dean calls that ball thingy of his Billy!”

“I DO NOT!” Dean snapped turning bright red.

“Oh yes you do! You don’t think I’ve heard you?” Seamus asked him and proceeded to make a horrible imitation of Dean talking to his football.

Harry couldn’t help but laugh at Dean’s facial expression; this seemed to be a signal that everything was ok, and they all laughed. Dean included.

The four of them began to unpack their things once again. Ron arrived a while later after finishing with his Prefect meeting.

“How was the meeting?”

“Boring,” Ron said as he let himself fall on his bed.

“Who’s the Head Boy this year?” Dean asked.

“Terrence Granchester from Ravenclaw,” Ron answered, “but that’s not the worst part!” he said turning onto his stomach and rising onto his elbows. “The Head Girl is Philippa Hinson!”

“What? That cow from Slytherin!?” Seamus said with horror.

“What the bloody hell was Dumbledore thinking appointing a Slytherin Head Girl!?” Dean exclaimed disgusted.

“This year’s going to be terrible! Slytherins are going to get away with more than they already do!” Neville said with a groan.

“Let’s hope not,” Harry said.

“Oh, McGonagall wants so see us during lunch tomorrow,” Ron said to Harry sounding a bit nervous and excited.

“Why? What for?” Harry asked with nerves as well.

“She told me to ask Fred and George too, and said that she had contacted Jack Sloper and the others. I think she hasn’t picked the Team Captain yet! At least, Katie said it wasn’t her, and it is neither you nor me, so…”

Harry’s face fell, “I was banned from Quidditch for life…”

Dean interrupted him, “By that Troll Umbridge! You really didn’t think that Dumbledore…”

“Or Professor McGonagall...” Ron emphasized.

“… was going to do nothing about that? That would have been a little thick of you!” Dean finished.

“You really think my ban has been lifted?” Harry asked hopefully. It just dawned on Harry that his Firebolt was still chained somewhere in the dungeons. He had completely forgotten about it, and last year he hadn’t honestly cared about it. Not after Sirius… No! He mustn’t think about that now.

“I’m sure it is!”

“Of course!”

“Yeah mate!”

“Are you nuts?” the others responded simultaneously.

“I really hope so! Hogwarts isn’t Hogwarts without Quidditch.”

“Hear, hear!”

“Oh, remind me to ask Professor McGonagall to get my Firebolt from the dungeons,” Harry said and then felt a pang of guilt. Sirius had given him that Firebolt, and Harry had forgotten about it. Suddenly his most precious possession became even more priceless.

“I think I am actually going to ask for it now,” Harry said becoming worried that something might have happened to it.

He left the dormitory, raced down the staircase and ran out of the common room. He figured he would start out at the staffroom. He walked briskly down the steps, remembered to jump over the trick step, then ran when he reached the bottom. He headed down to the entrance hall and walked down the marble steps then turned to go to the staff room. He ignored the gargoyles challenging him to enter.

Harry knocked on the door, and the new Professor from DADA opened up. She was still wearing that bright yellow cloak, her face hooded.

“May I help you?” she asked with a heavy accent. Harry couldn’t quite place it.

“Erm, yes, I’m looking for Professor McGonagall…” Harry said nervously, feeling that the new Professor was staring at him under her shadowed cloak. She nodded and opened the door wide for him to enter. Harry noticed Snape was there, the same expression of extreme loathing on his face. Harry hadn’t quite faced Snape outside of the classroom since the incident in which he had pried into one of his worst memories. Professor McGonagall was sitting by the fire.

“Erm, Professor McGonagall, I’m sorry to bother you but I was wondering if I could ask you something?”

“You just did,” the Witch answered serenely.

“I mean, in private,” Harry said, his eyes darting around the room. He noticed Professor Sinistra was there. Professor Binns had just floated through one of the walls. “Perkins,” he said in greeting as he passed.

“All right. Come to my office then,” McGonagall said as she rose from her chair. Harry followed her out of the staffroom, up the marble stairs, then down the hallway to her office on the first floor. She held the door open for him, and his eyes widened as he saw his Firebolt on her desk, glinting as if it had been cleaned and polished just recent.

Harry looked back to Professor McGonagall and a rare motherly smile was on her face.

“I had Professor Flitwick check the broom over before he left, just to make sure it hadn’t been tampered with. I knew you would want it back when you returned.”

Harry didn’t know what to say and simply managed to say, “Thank you.”

“Did Mr Weasley inform you of the meeting tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

“Good, we will see you tomorrow then. Good night,” she said and opened the door for him once more.

Harry gingerly took his Firebolt, and headed out. He turned once more to Professor McGonagall. “Professor…?”

“Tomorrow, ask your questions tomorrow,” the old Witch said a bit sternly again.

“Good night, Professor, and thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied and closed the door behind him.

Harry couldn’t resist the urge to try out his Firebolt again. Instead of heading back to the moving staircases, Harry raced down the marble steps, opened the great oak doors and stepped outside. The air was crisp and clean, the smell of rain lingering in the air. Harry dropped his Firebolt which hovered next to him. He mounted, and pushed up with his feet. He heard the wind soar, and felt the cool night air rush past. He had missed flying terribly, he now realized. This was something that Harry had always been good at, from the first moment he ever climbed on a broom. It was this reason that had made him the youngest Quidditch player in over a hundred years during his first year here.

Harry flew above the castle, and headed to the Quidditch Pitch. He performed several manoeuvres around the stadium, weaving in and out of hoops, flying as high as he could, and diving as fast and low as he could before pulling up at the last minute. He lost track of time enjoying the activity. He didn’t mind the wet rain as it began to drizzle a little. He finally looked at his watch and realized it was 11:30, and way past curfew.

Harry zoomed towards the castle, and headed to the Gryffindor tower. He circled slowly around the tower in between floors avoiding the windows, but as he came up the side of the tower, he glimpsed through a window and he had to do a double take. Standing on top of a bed, and brandishing her wand was Hermione. She seemed to be giving some sort of speech, and Parvati and Lavender were sitting cross legged on the floor giggling and clapping. Harry noticed Sally-Anne Perks was watching from her own bed, but wasn’t joining. The other sixth year Gryffindor girl didn’t seem to be around.

But what stunned Harry was to see Hermione, Lavender and Parvati clad only in their underwear. Lavender launched a pillow at Hermione and it hit her square in the face, she fell back onto her bed laughing. The two girls didn’t see three pillows floating in the air behind them, and Hermione suddenly flicked her wand, causing the pillows to beat up Lavender and Parvati. Soon the view was obscured by a cloud of feathers, and Harry could hear the screams and shrills from the girls. He was completely taken aback by Hermione’s actions. He had never seen her acting… this way before, not to mention that it had been quite a shock to see her in her underwear. Harry suddenly wondered why he hadn’t really seen Hermione as a girl until tonight. She had always just been Hermione. Harry flew higher up the tower and began to knock on the window. Ron’s face peered out and he looked relieved. He opened the window to let Harry in.

“Where’ve you been!? I thought Snape had caught you or something!” Ron said as Harry climbed in through the window.

“I actually went out to try out my Firebolt; to make sure it was all right,” Harry said sheepishly. Ron looked hurt.

“You went on a night fly and didn’t come get me!?” he bellowed at Harry.

Harry felt bad for a moment, but he really had wanted to enjoy the flight alone.

“I’m sorry Ron. I thought about it, but I just felt like I wanted to be alone for a while,” he said sincerely.

“Oh, all right,” Ron said grudgingly, “but next time you better come get me!” He warned.

“I promise,” Harry said with a grin.

Ron climbed back into bed, and resumed his reading. Seamus and Dean were still down in the common room, and Neville had fallen asleep already. Harry placed his Firebolt on his bed, and began to unpack a few things from his trunk, took out his book, quills, parchment, and stuffed them in his bag. As he took out his pyjamas, a small, old, tarnished square mirror fell onto the bed. Harry looked at it with sadness, and regret. He had repaired it last June when it had shattered after he threw it in his trunk. If only he had opened Sirius’ gift before, he would have known how to contact Sirius when he needed him. He would have never gone to Umbridge’s office and Kreacher would have never been able to lie to him.

Harry stared at the mirror as he changed. He put away his things, and hung his Firebolt on the wall above his bed. Dean and Seamus had come back and gone to bed already. Harry picked up the small mirror and wished Sirius’ laughing face would appear in it. He lay in bed with the mirror in his hand and waited to hear everyone else asleep.

“Sirius?” Harry softly called once again at the mirror, and waited. But as it had happened every time before, Sirius’ face didn’t appear in the mirror. Harry closed his eyes and clutched the mirror close to his heart. This was the last thing Sirius had given to him. With that thought in mind, he fell asleep.

“Haarryyy.”

Harry turned in his sleep as he heard the familiar voice calling him.

“Harry.”

Harry screwed up his eyes trying to block the dull light beating against his closed eyelids. He must have slept late, Harry thought as he fluttered his eyes open. His eyes opened wider when instead of seeing the ceiling of the Gryffindor dorm room, his eyes saw a pale grey sky, white fluffy clouds moving slowly. Harry bolted upright. He stared with horror; he was still lying in his four poster bed, but the bed appeared to be in ruins. The curtains that he had closed last night were gone; instead, dull grey rags hung on one side of the bed.

Harry looked around and noticed that the room he was in was supposed to be his room, but it was as if Hogwarts was the remnant of an ancient castle long since destroyed. There was no floor in his room, only a small slab of the floor on which his bed rested. Harry looked down and he could see all the way down to where the common room should have been. He looked around and he could see outside, the castle grounds were a wreck. Large sections of the forest were gone, only white skeletons of trees remained. Of the Quidditch Pitch, Harry could only see one single hoop leaning as if frozen in the act of falling. The stands, the locker rooms, the pitch itself were nothing but rubble.

The many towers and buildings that were Hogwarts were mostly destroyed. Some walls, and pillars remained, but the whole school was in ruin. The only thing that remained the same was the lake, its dark, almost black waters glinting under the bleary glare of the sun. Harry then noticed something peculiar: there was no colour. As he looked around the landscape, he could only see black, white, and shades of grey. The only thing that contained any colour was himself. His pale blue pyjamas seemed to glow against the grayscale monotony of the place he was in, contrasting against the dark grey of his bed. His skin as well stood out against the black and white landscape.

“Harry,”

Harry whirled around to the sound of his godfather’s voice. By his bed stood a large, square, and tarnished mirror. Harry realized it was the same as the one he held in his palm, but this other mirror was large, at least seven feet tall. Inside the mirror stood the outline of a man, his features were darkened as if he was hiding behind shadows.

“Sirius?” Harry’s heart beat faster, but as the reflection of his godfather began to clear, and Harry saw Sirius, he screamed.


“Harry? Harry?”

Someone was shaking him awake.

Harry opened his eyes to see Ron’s worried face over him. He was breathing hard, and he was covered in sweat.

“Are you all right?”

Finally Harry found his voice. “I saw Sirius, he… his … it was rotting…” Harry proceeded to tell the dream to Ron.
“It was a nightmare… I think. I had gone to bed thinking of him…” Harry said in a disconsolate voice. Ron frowned, and asked a bit frightened.

“Was it… You-Know-Who who gave you that dream?”

Harry thought for a moment,. “No, I don’t think so… my scar didn’t hurt,” he answered, and if to confirm it, his hand touched his scar.

This seemed to satisfy both Harry and Ron. “Let’s get back to bed. It’s only 1am,” Ron said and took the mirror from Harry and placed it back in Harry’s trunk as Harry lay back down. Harry was afraid to go back to sleep; he didn’t want to see Sirius like that again. After fighting the urge to sleep, Harry didn’t notice when he finally dozed off half an hour later.



Chapter 20: All in a First Day's Worth
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HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!

Chapter 20

All in a First Day’s Worth


The next morning, Harry sat in Dumbledore’s office. He got up rather early that morning and he woke Ron to tell him where he was going and that he would meet him for breakfast. Harry left to see Dumbledore soon after he had showered. Since the dream about Sirius didn’t involve his scar hurting, Harry had decided not to say anything to Dumbledore. He did decide, however, that he would have a talk with Remus sometime. Harry figured that if there was anyone who probably knew what it felt like to lose Sirius, it would be him.

“Good morning,” Dumbledore began and after a few words of greeting he directed the conversation to the purpose of this meeting. “As you were present and witnessed the actions of the Sorting Hat last night, you may be wondering what the incident was all about.”

Harry nodded. He had indeed wondered since Dumbledore had glanced at him during the occurrence. Harry had a feeling that it was something to do with him.

Dumbledore continued, “I have to confess that I was caught off-guard by what the Hat said to me, and it is for this reason that I’ve called you into this office.” Dumbledore began with a smile, managing to peak Harry’s curiosity even more.

“What did the Hat say?” Harry couldn’t help but ask. Dumbledore’s eyes sparkled.

“He told me the reason he was unable to sort Miss Bellou is because he was not created to sort Mages of her kind,” Dumbledore replied.

Harry looked at the professor in confusion. He wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean nor how Joséphine’s sorting could have had anything to do with him.

“Magic is a mysterious thing, Harry, and too complex for any one individual to completely grasp all of it...” Dumbledore said standing up and walking to the window to look out over the grounds. He turned and faced Harry with a gentle smile on his face, yet there was apprehension and worry etched in his features. “There are different kinds of magical wizards. 99.99% of the magical population can be categorized into wizards, witches, warlocks and sorcerers. The remaining .01% are Mages.”

Harry was starting to wonder if Dumbledore would get to the point.

“Mages are the most powerful wizards, but they are very rare and in the last centuries they have been all but extinct. So you can imagine when I say that the revelation made by the Sorting Hat that Miss Bellou is a Mage was a surprise.”

Harry nodded, but still didn’t seem to understand why this all mattered, and what did it have to do with him?

“But what’s even more extraordinary is that the Hat also revealed to me that you are a Mage as well.”

“ME?”

“I’ve been asking myself the same question, but the Hat assured me that you are one also.”

“But you just said that the Sorting Hat couldn’t sort Mages, yet he sorted me into Gryffindor,” Harry replied in shock.

“The Hat said he could never sort Mages of Joséphine’s kind. And the Hat didn’t place you in Gryffindor; you made a choice. You chose not to be placed into Slytherin, which is where the Hat strongly suggested you should be. He has let every Mage that has ever attended Hogwarts make a choice. Why the Sorting Hat chose to reveal such a thing now, he will not tell. There is little known about why a particular witch or wizard inherits the specific magical traits of a Mage, but I’ve begun looking into it and I have just discovered a few unknown things about Mages and I hope to have answers to you fairly soon. The Hat did tell me, however, that you are an Elemental Mage,” Dumbledore said and continued, “Elemental Mages are the ones we Wizards know the most about. This scroll,” Albus said handing a large scroll to Harry, “contains a good amount of information on everything that we know about Elemental Mages.”

“Now…” Dumbledore continued before Harry could ask questions, “I want you to meet the new Professor for Defence Against The Dark Arts,” Dumbledore said and Harry whipped his head round to look behind him. There was a man standing by the door as he had just entered. He was dressed in a dark cloak, with the hood covering his face so only his chin and lips were visible. It seemed like Déjà vu to Harry.

“This is Professor Donovan.”

It was him!

Donovan gently took his hood off his head and Harry was startled to see someone completely different than the man he met at the café in London. Donovan had said to Harry that Dobsen was his Muggle alias, but the man here didn’t look like Dobsen. He wondered if he was a Metamorphmagus, like Tonks… who could change his appearance at will. The man in front of Harry appeared much younger, and Harry suddenly felt a sense of dread. What if this was the real Donovan and that other man at the Leaky Cauldron had been an impostor and had said Dobsen was an alias because he didn’t know what Harry was talking about? What if it was the other way around!? The impostor was sitting right here! He should say something to Dumbledore. But as Donovan spoke, Harry definitely recognized the same voice.

“Pleased to finally meet you, Mr Potter,” he said and stared pointedly at Harry.

“Erm, likewise… Professor,” Harry replied without thinking.

“Professor Donovan is an Unspeakable at the Department of Mysteries and I have hired him to be one of the new professors for Defence Against the Dark Arts. He arrived shortly before the feast was over last night,” Dumbledore said and placed his hands on the desk forming a steeple. Harry nodded. He had been with Remus when Dumbledore greeted the two new professors in the Entrance Hall.

“It is extraordinary to have a Mage among us…” Dumbledore said and looked at Harry, “but even more extraordinary is to have more than one Mage together in the same century,” he said with serenity. “It is quite unimaginable to have three of them in this school,” he said now turning to Donovan.

Harry turned to look at Professor Donovan with shock.

“When I first interviewed Mr Donovan for this position,” Dumbledore said not taking his gaze from Donovan, “he surprised my by revealing to me that he was a Mage. It was a surprise because I would have expected that he would keep this information secret, since the nature of this information is very sensitive.”

Harry didn’t quite understand why that would be so, but he noticed that Donovan looked straight into the headmaster’s eyes.

“I have heard that if you can not trust in Albus Dumbledore, then in who can you trust? You are famous for your less than conventional appointments, and I know you don’t discriminate against those of us who are different, no matter what the rumours or beliefs are,” Donovan said to Dumbledore.

“One reason why you obtained this job is because I appreciate your honesty,” Dumbledore said, and Harry had the feeling that there was plenty more that he meant that was unsaid. Harry also wondered if it wasn’t to keep a closer eye on him. Dumbledore had, after all, met Donovan before when Donovan sorted out some things about the vault left to him by Ellen Schellden.

“But there will always be things that I will be unable to speak of with you, Headmaster, unless I am given clearance to do so. I am bound to keep secrets…” Donovan said a bit enigmatically and a bit apologetically at the same time.

“Naturally. I expect no less from an Unspeakable,” Dumbledore said and turned to Harry. “Professor Donovan has enlightened me with new information about being a Mage and, in light of this information, I am going to schedule special classes for both you and Miss Bellou so you will be able to experiment and to train in your Mage abilities. Professor Donovan has agreed to teach you and guide you during the extra classes. I hope you take this opportunity to your advantage. Also, it will be best if we keep this between us. That is all for now,” Dumbledore said and dismissed Harry.

“I can’t believe it!” Harry heard Hermione’s whisper on his wrist watch. Harry had forgotten that he had linked with Ron this morning so that he was able to hear on the conversation. Hermione must now be with him.

Harry walked out of Dumbledore’s office and stepped onto the escalator.
His head was reeling. Not only had he found out he was a Mage, the mystery man of the summer showed up as the new DADA professor and, to top it off, he was a Mage himself, and would be spending extra time with Harry and that new girl, Joséphine. He could still not get over his unease that Donovan looked different to Dobsen. He remembered then the incident from Hogsmeade at the end of last year. Ron had told Harry about it and he had seen the silicone mask the man had worn that Mr Weasley had kept for ‘research’. Maybe Dobsen’s face had also been a mask. Was Donovan now using a mask as well?

Harry heard running footsteps and he saw Ron and Hermione running towards him when they rounded the corner.

“So that’s why you two can do wandless magic! Only your kind has been known to wield it! It all makes sense now,” Hermione stated as a matter of fact while she caught her breath. Ron looked at Harry a little apprehensively, seeming almost fearful.

“I’ve never done wandless magic,” Harry countered.

“You told me about all those incidents when you were younger. That is wandless magic,” Hermione interjected.

Harry didn’t say anything and he realized that she was right but he had thought it was normal for underage wizards to do that when they felt a powerful emotion. Harry also noticed the way Ron was acting.

After the three chatted for a while, they headed down to the Great Hall for breakfast.

“Erm, Harry, can I study those a bit?” Hermione asked pointing to Harry’s scroll. “I’ll give it back to you,” she said and smiled eagerly.

“Sure, then you can explain things to me and I won’t have to read it,” Harry grinned at her.

“Of course!” Hermione answered and greedily reached for the parchment.

“Erm, Harry. If I were you I would really keep quiet about you being a Mage and all,” Ron said scratching the back of his head.

“Ron, that is ridiculous. Stupid beliefs…” Hermione berated him.

“Why?”

“No, I’m serious. Well, it’s like, you know, with Professor Lupin… he is feared and hated for… uh… what he is… and well… Mages are considered… erm… dark wizards and people have always feared them. But they have disappeared and there haven’t been any more for a long, long time,” Ron said shifting his weight nervously. “It might be best if no one else but us knows.”

So that’s why Dumbledore said he understood why Donovan kept it a secret.

“People are so ignorant. They fear what they don’t know,” Hermione said, sounding quite upset.

Harry frowned. The last thing he needed was another reason to draw unwanted, and possibly highly negative attention to him.

“But you do trust me?” Harry asked directly.

“Of course, mate!”

“Always!” both Ron and Hermione exclaimed at once.

They ran into Ginny, Dean and Neville along the way to breakfast, and then they noticed another person joining them. Bianca Malfoy was now walking timidly next to Ginny. Ron gave Ginny a questioning look, and Ginny shrugged her shoulders.

The Great Hall was not very crowded yet and the six of them sat down to eat breakfast. After a while, Professor McGonagall began to hand out their timetables.

“Congratulations on your OWLS,” she said as she handed the timetables to the group. “Miss Bellou, your equivalency grades arrived this morning and Dumbledore had a few questions before you can sign up for your classes. He would like to speak with you after breakfast,” she said to the new girl, whom Harry hadn’t really met yet. She was sitting next to Fred again. Harry had learned from Hermione that she was a seventh year student, transferred from Beauxbatons.

Ron looked as his schedule and called Professor McGonagall back.

“Professor? I think there’s a mistake on the timetables,” he said waving the paper to her.

“How so, Mr Weasley?” she asked with a stony look on her face.

“Look here!” Ron said pointing to the timetable. "It says that Defence Against the Dark Arts is at 6 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays!” Ron exclaimed.

Professor McGonagall’s face did not change from the stony expression, but there was definite amusement in her eyes. “I assure you, Mr Weasley, there is no mistake. The new Professors have requested this addition and Dumbledore approved. You will have classes as scheduled,” she said and continued down the table handing out timetables.

Ron, Harry and Hermione could hear other students making the same comment to the professor.

Professor Dumbledore stood up at the breakfast table and called for attention.

“I have been asked to clarify something this morning. There is no mistake in the timetables you have received. Fifth year students and higher have Defence Against the Dark Arts at the time scheduled. This year we are making Defence Against the Dark Arts mandatory for all upper level years. If you have questions, please consult the new professors. Both are present this morning, so I will take a moment to introduce them.” He motioned to two figures sitting at the table; one was cloaked in black robes, with the hood raised over his head, so only his chin and mouth were visible. The other one also had robes with the hood pulled over the head, but in contrast to the pitch black of the first, it was bright red. The students could only see the chin and lips.

“This is Professor Donovan. He works for the Ministry which is the reason we have a second professor; he may be absent on Ministry business at times,” Dumbledore informed the students, and they watched as the man under the black robes nodded his head in acknowledgement. “And this is Professor Liliana de Valerio. She comes highly recommended from the Royal Magical Academy of Spain. She will assist Professor Donovan with his classes and will instruct you in the case of his absence,” Dumbledore indicated as the woman in the red robes nodded her head in acknowledgement.

The student body began to murmur about the mysterious professors whilest others were groaning about the fact that they had to get up and be in class by 6 in the morning.

Joséphine finished her breakfast and stood up. Harry overheard her speaking to Fred. “I will see Professeur Dumbledore now. I will see vous lateur, zhank you for your ‘elp this morning,” she said to Fred with a smile, although she seemed tense and walked over to the staff table. Dumbledore stood up and Joséphine followed him back to the office.

Justin Finch-Fletchley, Ernie McMillan, Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones walked over from the Hufflepuff table towards the Gryffindor one.

“Hey guys,” Ernie greeted the group.

“What’s up?” Ron asked after a moment of greeting.

“We were wondering if you were planning to re-instate the DA again this year and if you were going to have a meeting this week,” Justin asked as the others nodded.

“Yeah… my aunt said to me that there had been an outpour of requests from parents that wanted Dumbledore to increase the Defence Against Dark Arts classes before I came back, so I think it is important that we keep up. I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely learnt more in the DA than in class last year and we have no idea what the new professors are like,” Susan began speaking quickly, afraid that Harry would not agree to starting the DA again.

Before Harry could respond Hermione jumped in, “We already discussed this during the summer, and Harry agreed to do it.” Hermione turned to Harry. “Should we meet tonight before we are swamped with coursework?” she asked.

Harry didn’t like that she had spoken for him but he guessed she was right. She had already convinced him to continue with the club, despite the fact that he still felt guilty to have put some of its members in mortal danger because of his stupid mistake.

“Sure,” he replied., “but I think we should keep it a secret still. I really don’t want word out and getting new members until we’ are sure we can trust them.” Everyone agreed it was a good idea.

“Do you think everyone has their Galleons?” Hermione asked.

“I think so, but we can speak directly with the members,” Hannah replied. “Susan and I can talk to the Ravenclaws if you want to let the rest of the Gryffindors know,” she added.

“What about Marietta?” Ron asked, and the group scowled.

“Well, I personally don’t want that sneak back in the group,” Susan replied crossing her arms. The others agreed.

“No, I mean she probably still has her Galleon, and what if she tells on us when she feels it get warm?” Ron clarified.

“You would think her mouth would be sealed after last year…”

“Still…”

“Leave Marietta to me,” Luna voiced and caught the attention of the group. She had walked over from Ravenclaw table when she had seen the group heading towards Gryffindor. “I’ll get the Galleon back,” she added.

“All right, once you get that Galleon back let Hermione know and we’ll set the meeting time for tonight,” Harry said and they finished the conversation.

The Hufflepuffs went back to their table, while Luna joined Ginny with the Gryffindors.

“So, what do we have first?” Harry asked as he picked up his timetable.

“Double Charms with Professor Lupin. I can’t wait to see what he teaches us,” Hermione said with enthusiasm. She pulled out her morphing book and opened it to the first page.

“The standard book of spells: Year Six,” she said as she tapped the page with her wand.

Searching Database… Please wait

After a brief moment, the title appeared on the list.

Hermione tapped her wand to the words and the book morphed into the class book.

“I did a little bit of reading—” she began.

“Which means she has memorized it by now,” Ron whispered to Harry who chuckled.

“—there are all sorts of useful charms. There’s the freezing charm, and the opposite one to heat things up, and there’s a feather-light charm! And we get to learn the shrinking charm! Oh, and Aguamenti…” She began to drone on about the spells and Harry had to tune her out, ignoring her ranting. Instead, he turned his attention to the head table.

Harry saw Professor Lupin eating his breakfast, and he smiled at Harry. Harry noticed that Remus was looking a bit better. The full moon had been five nights ago, and last night Harry had noticed the dark circles under his eyes. Remus’ attention was drawn away when both new professors stood up and left. There was something in the way that Lupin turned to look at the professors that told Harry that Remus did not trust Donovan one bit. Then it dawned on him. Remus had mentioned something saying that the man from Hogsmeade and King’s Cross was the same as Michael Dobsen, who Harry knew was Michael Donovan. He must have recognized his scent, Harry thought.

“Come on,” Ron said tugging on Harry’s sleeve. “We don’t want to be late for Charms.” Hermione closed her book and stuffed it in her bag, and the three of them left the Great Hall.

“Hey Neville,” Harry said to the tall young man already in the queue. Parvati, Dean and Seamus were the other students from Gryffindor taking Charms.

“Hey guys,” Neville replied waving his hand.

It was almost lesson time, but there was still no sign of Professor Lupin. Just as the bell rang, he walked down the hall, hastily opened the door and set his books on the desk. Everyone filed in. Harry sat down and was surprised to see Hermione take the seat next to him. Ron sat on the empty spot next to Neville. Harry groaned inwardly because now he would have to put up with Hermione’s lectures on top of having the lesson. He had hoped to doodle away with Ron as they did in some classes when they were bored, although he wasn’t expecting on being bored with Professor Lupin.

“Welcome to Charms. As you know I will be substituting for Professor Flitwick for the first half of the school year and I must tell you that I am delighted to see you all again. Now, when I call your name I want you to do a charm that you have previously learned,” he said and picked up the register.

He began to read names and each student performed a charm to show their skills. Hermione did her signature portable waterproof fire, and received an ‘excellent’ and a smile from Lupin. Ron used an Accio spell to summon his textbook, while Neville performed a correct Bubble-head charm. He had become good at it last year when there were so many stink pellets and dungbombs set about the school. On Harry’s turn, Harry pointed his wand at Lupin and cried “Expecto Patronum” and his silver stag left his wand and galloped about the room before it disappeared. Several of the students in Charms belonged to the DA and they clapped with enthusiasm. Harry felt a tinge of colour rise into his cheeks, and noticed several of the Hufflepuff sixth year girls looking at him with adoring eyes. He looked away quickly, only to settle on Parvati who was looking at him dreamily for a second, before she blushed and looked away. Harry sat down feeling his ears hot.

Lupin smiled at him, ticked Harry’s name on the list, and moved on to the next person.

After the syllabus was discussed, they spent the rest of the class hour reviewing the charms they had learned last year, such as the silencing charm and the colour changing charm. Once the lesson was over, the trio headed over to Gryffindor Tower during their break. When they arrived at the portrait Luna was walking by with an aloof expression on her face.

“Oh, I’m by Gryffindor,” she exclaimed in a surprised manner. She was wearing a pair of bright pink shoes that were sticking out from under her robes, her wand tucked behind her ear as usual. “All the better,” she said and shrugged, then turned to the trio, “this will save me from having to try to find you.”

Harry, Ron and Hermione simply shook their heads. Although she was very strange, all three of them considered her a friend and comrade by now.

“Here is Marietta’s Galleon,” she said handing the fake Galleon to Hermione. “I remembered last year for some reason she couldn’t remember about us meeting after Umbridge made the clubs illegal, so I said that if she didn’t want to participate this year that she had to surrender the Galleon and sign a release form. She was apprehensive about signing, but I told her that if she didn’t, she would probably end up with the same problem as last year once you burn the original list. She signed this,” Luna said handing a parchment over and smiled, “I then informed her that now her teeth will grow large and her whole body will be covered with the word ‘sneak’ if she says anything about the DA ever again.”

“You charmed this parchment?” Hermione asked impressed.

“Actually no, you will have to do it,” Luna replied in her dreamy voice.

Harry and Ron laughed at her cleverness. “So she doesn’t know? That’s brilliant!” Harry exclaimed.

“I better get ready for class. I think Hagrid has brought the Crumple-Horned Snorkack to show the school. My father finally found it. Maybe he’ll show it in your class as well,” Luna said and left the trio.

“Do you reckon she’s all right up here?” Ron asked pointing to his head.

“I don’t know, she has some weird beliefs, but I don’t think she’s crazy,” Harry said and shrugged.

“What time do you want me to set the Galleons for the meeting?” Hermione asked switching the subject. The beliefs Luna held, that Hermione could not comprehend, were very unnerving to her.

“How about 8 tonight?” Harry replied.

After break, Harry and Ron played a game of chess as they waited for their free period to pass, while Hermione had Ancient Runes. They could have started on that short essay Lupin had assigned for the next class which was tomorrow, but they felt they had plenty of time to get it done. An owl flew into the common room and gave a letter to Harry.

Harry,

Please come to my office.

Dumbledore
Headmaster, Hogwarts


“What does he want, I wonder?” Ron asked.

“I dunno. I guess I’ll see you at lunch,” Harry said and left the common room and headed over to the headmaster’s office. He spoke the password and took the escalating stairs two at a time. When he entered the office, he found Muluc perched on a stand in the headmaster’s office.

“Lemon drop?” Dumbledore offered Harry the sweets in his dish. Harry politely refused. “I hope you do not mind that I have requested that Muluc bring your correspondence here, rather then deliver it publicly. You can imagine how noticeable Muluc would be in the Great Hall delivering at the same time as the post. From now on, anything between you and Miss Machado will be handled in here. Simply come to my office whenever you have a letter to send to her, and I will inform you when a letter arrives for you. That is all… oh, one more thing, your own personal password to get in is ‘Smarties’. With the return of the Weasley twins, I’m afraid that I will have to return to my custom of changing the password often. Yours however, will remain constant. Please do not share it with anyone,” Dumbledore said and grinned at Harry.

Harry took the letter with an extreme feeling of guilt. He had completely forgotten to write to Veronica. It struck him as odd that he hadn’t missed Muluc delivering a letter to him. He and Veronica wrote to each other almost daily, but it had been three days since he had sent a letter or even thought about writing one.

Dumbledore returned to his stacks of paper. Harry left the office, down the staircase, and headed back to Gryffindor Tower.

Harry tore the letter open and read it as he walked back to the common room. He wasn’t paying attention to where he was going until he felt something like a draft of air wash over him. For a split second he felt as if he couldn’t move and Harry felt as though his body had been turned into stone, unable to move forward. Then, as soon as the sensation had started, it was suddenly gone. Did he imagine it? Everything seemed normal. Harry shrugged and continued to walk. He didn’t notice the moth frozen in midair nor the dead silence in the corridor. Harry paused when he heard murmurs coming from an empty classroom. He wondered who could be in there, since there were no classes ever scheduled in that particular room. He felt the weird sensation in his body that he felt around the new girl, and couldn’t help but move closer to look through a crack in the door.

He could see Joséphine speaking with someone outside of his view.

“… you can tell …. I can not do zhis”! she exclaimed, frustrated.

“You must… not before time … master… very dangerous,” a male voice spoke in a low volume, and Harry could not make out everything completely.

“I… can not …”

“Jo… you must… I think we better…. What is it Joséphine?” the man’s voice asked. Harry saw Joséphine turn to look towards the door.

Harry jumped from his spot and ran around the corner and up a flight of steps. If he had been paying attention he would have noticed that his footsteps made no sound. He felt another waft of air and suddenly the hall was filled with the little noise of life in the castle. He didn’t pay attention to this as he was wondering if Joséphine felt him when he was around just as he felt her. She probably knew it was him spying on her. He took the long route to Gryffindor Tower to think.

Who was she speaking to? She was new at the school so she couldn’t have known anyone beforehand, could she? And what was it that she couldn’t do? Harry’s curiosity was getting the better of him. When he came around a corner he smashed into Hermione knocking her backwards, and taking her down with him, landing on top of her. She was on her way back from her lesson which had finished early so students could go do some research in the library. Hermione had already done it the day before so she was free until lunch.

“Sorry Hermione,” Harry said leaning over her, his face mere inches from hers. Harry blinked and squinted trying to see her better.

Hermione was stumped for a second unable to respond and for a moment they simply stared at each other.

“It… it’s all right Harry,” she said finally snapping out of her trance and blushing, “but you are rather heavy,” she added and huffed a little.

“Oh, sorry…” Harry jumped up and felt around the ground for his glasses. Hermione sat up on the floor and handed him his spectacles.

“Thanks,” he said, and placed them back on. He stood up and helped her to her feet.

“What were you running from?” she asked as they began to pick up her things. Such close physical contact had been a bit disorienting to both of them, especially Hermione.

“Erm, nothing. I was returning from Dumbledore’s office…” he replied.

“What did he want?” she interrupted him curiously as she picked up a letter. In a quick glance she was able to read the first few sentences from Veronica, and she pushed the letter to Harry.

“I got a letter from Veronica and I guess Muluc is only allowed in his office now,” Harry replied while he looked for the letter among the parchments from Hermione’s bag. He really didn’t want to admit that he was spying on a conversation between Joséphine and someone. It was probably nothing, and Hermione would tell him just so.

“This must be it,” she said handing him the letter and biting her bottom lip.

“Thanks,” Harry said as he stuffed it in a pocket of his robe, not noticing the look in her eyes.

The pair headed back to the common room. Hermione went to her room to set the DA Galleons to the right time and date, while Harry went up to his room to read Veronica’s letter. Ron was taking a nap in his bed next to Harry’s.

Harry finished writing a letter to Veronica and then placed the letter in a pocket of his robe. He went to wake up Ron since it was time to go to lunch.

When they went down to the common room, Joséphine was speaking with Fred and George. They had just returned from their last class and she was upset because she had apparently earned detention in DADA. Both Fred and George seemed to be proud. Harry frowned at this. Wasn’t Joséphine in a deserted hallway just now? He looked at her to see if something was out of place. She smiled at him, but didn’t appear nervous or confused.

“We were just telling Joséphine that she should try out for Quidditch. She said she played in Beaubaxtons. By the way, has McGonagall selected a new captain?” Fred asked him, and Harry focused on him.

“No, I’ve not heard,” Harry replied.

“You’ll probably get the spot,” Ron said it as a fact, although he could not quite hide his jealousy.

“I’m not so sure,” Harry replied.

“Why wouldn’t you?” Ron asked.

“I don’t think I’m the best qualified,” he replied.

“Bollocks!” Fred exclaimed.

“I don’t think Fred and George would make captain, so that leaves you and Katie,” Ron said sounding exasperated.

“Hey!” George exclaimed, insulted.

“I guess we’ll find out,” Fred said shrugging his shoulders.

When several other sixth years and Hermione joined them, the group went to lunch. Ron grumbled when he noticed the Malfoy girl following Ginny, who was walking with another fifth year student.

“Oy, don’t you have classmates of your own age?” Ron grumbled as they reached the table.

“Ron! Leave her alone,” Hermione warned him.

“You’re stepping up for a Malfoy!?” Ron asked incredulously and feeling a little betrayed.

“No, I am telling you as a Prefect to leave a fellow, and considerably younger, Gryffindor alone,” Hermione replied.

“She’s probably spying on us for that git and her Death Eater daddy,” Ron retorted. Bianca’s lower lip began to tremble and she turned around and fled the group.

“You’re such a prat!” Ginny screamed at him and she ran after Bianca. Hermione glared at Ron.

“What? It’s the truth.She’s a Malfoy and can’t be trusted!” Ron defended himself. He was getting worked up about it. He hadn’t done anything wrong. Hermione huffed and slammed her palms on the table.

“You’re an insensitive git!” she growled and left the Great Hall without eating. The whole room turned to look at Ron whose ears began to burn. His scowl was enough to stifle any jokes or retorts. Harry noticed that Malfoy was glaring at Ron but he wasn’t moving to defend his sister. He glared at Harry, and Harry just ignored him.

He agreed with Ron about the Malfoy girl, but he also agreed with Hermione. If Bianca ended up in Gryffindor, maybe she was a little bit different than her family, but again there were plenty of Death Eaters out there who weren’t necessarily Slytherins and a brave Death Eater was the last thing Harry needed.

Halfway through the lunch hour, Professor McGonagall came looking for the Quidditch team. Katie, Ron, Ginny, Fred, George, Jack, Andrew and Harry followed her into the office and took a seat when she offered it.

“I am sure you have some idea why I asked you to come. First of all, I remind you that Harry, Fred and George’s ban on Quidditch has been lifted. Now, I am afraid that since Miss Weasley …”

“I want to try out for a Chaser instead,” Ginny interrupted as if knowing what McGonagall was going to say.

“Oh, most excellent!” McGonagall exclaimed unable to conceal her relief. They all tried hard to suppress a chuckle.

McGonagall regained her composure and continued, “Well, Harry, I guess the position of Seeker is yours again. Now, with the return of the Weasley twins, it will only be fair that there be tryouts for Beaters to give everyone a fair chance…”

This time it was Andrew who interrupted her. “Erm, Professor… I don’t think I want to come back to the team again…” he said nervously.

“Why not Mr Kirke?” McGonagall exclaimed, surprised. Usually Quidditch players remained in a team, especially if they had won the cup the previous two times.

“Well, you see… I only went to tryouts because my dad practically threatened me into it, but I really didn’t want to be there and when I got picked I couldn’t say no… but now that Fred and George are back Gryffindor will be better off with one of them in my position…”

McGonagall turned to face Fred and George with disbelief, her lips thinning.

They both put their arms up.

“—we swear we didn’t say anything!—”

“—Professor! We may be pranksters, and troublemakers, but we ain’t bullies!—”

“—we have honour!—”

“No Professor! They didn’t say anything to me! I swear! I was going to quit anyway whether they came back or not!” Andrew said alarmed and hoped the twins didn’t think that he was trying to get them in trouble.

McGonagall looked between the three of them, and apologized to the twins.

“Very well, Mr Kirke… if you don’t wish to tryout again for the team, I am saddened to hear so. You were, after all, part of the team and with your help Gryffindor won the cup last year. May I encourage you to try out as a reserve? I have decided that in the event anything happens to any of our team players that it makes sense to have a reserve player for each position. Since you have already played in the team and have proven your skills, you would be an excellent candidate.”

“Do I have to go to every practice?” he asked nervously.

“It is desired that you attend practices, yes.”

“Then no, I had to miss some meetings for the Gobstones club last year and this year I’m President, but thanks anyway.”

“That leaves just the three of you to try out for the Beater positions along with the others…”

Sloper raised his hand. “I actually want to try out for Chaser. My arm always kills after beating those Bludgers,” Sloper said and blushed.

McGonagall narrowed her eyes at the twins. “You are sure you haven’t done anything to these boys?”

“We swear!” Fred said raising his hand, flat palm facing forward. George had done a little cross over his heart.

“Mmmh,” McGonagall said in a tone that meant she wasn’t really convinced. “Very well. As you know, we are in need of a new captain. If we go by seniority, the role of captain would fall between Fred and George…”

“—we don’t want to be captain—” George interrupted her.

“—Nah, too much responsibility—” Fred chimed.

“…then the next candidate would be Katie…” she said smiling at her.

“Me? Captain? No, I thought you’d pick Harry…”

“You don’t want to be the team captain? What is going on with everyone here?” McGonagall exclaimed flabbergasted. “Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want to be captain either, Harry?

“Erm, well… erm…”

The whole group was looking at Harry with surprise, McGonagall as well. She couldn’t believe her ears! No one had ever refused to be team captain when offered the position!

“I really love playing Quidditch, but being captain is something that I haven’t really thought about. All I want is to be able to play, and besides, I’m not the best choice when it comes to thinking strategically… I think Ron would be better suited for the position,” Harry replied in all honesty.

Ron was gaping at Harry. “I think you would be the best choice for captain! You’re a great leader!” Ron exclaimed.

“I may be a good leader for the DA, because it’s what I know best, but all I want to do is play Seeker. You know more about Quidditch than anyone, and you are so good with strategies…”

Professor McGonagall cleared her throat. “Well, no one seems interested in the position!” she exclaimed, sounding a bit annoyed. She looked between the senior members of the team, but none seemed too eager to volunteer. McGonagall looked at Ron who looked so eager to be the team captain, but did not seem to believe he deserved it above Harry. After all, he’d only been on the team for one year, and most of it his performance was rather shaky. McGonagall sighed.

“Mr Weasley, try outs are next week on Saturday the 14th, and this time you will be selecting a complete team for the reserve, as well as trying out the other positions. Congratulations, you may go now so you won’t be late for class.”

Ron hadn’t comprehended yet. “You mean…?” Ron said dumbstruck.

“You’re the new captain!” Harry exclaimed with genuine happiness for him. Everyone cheered, although Fred and George didn’t looked too convinced it had been the right choice!

“Really!?” Ron turned to Professor McGonagall. She nodded and was giving him one of her rare, genuine smiles. She handed him the badge and Ron’s hands shook as he took it. He remembered his older brother’s badge and how he had dreamed ever since then that one day he would become the Gryffindor Team Captain. He remembered the way he had seen himself in the Mirror of Erised his first year there. That was something he had always wanted, now if he could only win the cup!

Katie had to help Ron pin his badge onto his robes because he poked himself twice with his wand unable to perform the spell correctly. Fred and George stood up and shook his hand, and Ginny hugged him. Harry shook his hand also and he wasn’t the least bit jealous; Ron deserved this and he hoped that it would help boost his self-confidence. Ron was an excellent Keeper, if only he could control his fears of what everyone thought of him, or the pressure from the opposition. The group turned to go back to the common room to get their things before the bell rang.

“Oh, and Mr Weasley… I am quite fond of that cup, so I remind you of what you must do,” McGonagall said and Ron nodded.

The common room erupted into cheers when they heard the news. Many students became excited about the prospect of being in a reserve team. If they made that then they were probably guaranteed a spot the next time a position opened.

Hermione hugged Ron with happiness, and Ron turned bright scarlet, she then remembered that she wasn’t speaking to him and composed herself.

“I… I have to pin up a notice for tryouts…” he said nervously.

“You better do that after class. We’re going to be late for Defence Against the Dark Arts,” Hermione interrupted him.

“So you’re speaking to me again?” Ron asked hopefully.

Hermione glared at him for a second. “You’re still an insensitive git,” she retorted and folded her arms, but then she smiled at him.

“Would the two of you give it a rest? Can’t we go one day without fighting?” Harry interrupted, but he too was smiling.

“Right,” they both answered and made their way to their most anticipated class of the day.

~~~~~~~~
A/N: I'm making an effort to make my chappies longer, about 6-7K words, so I will probably not be able to post once a week, but I'll try. Also, the longer chapters take longer to get betaed. Thanks for reading, and please review!

Chapter 21: DADA and Fake Detentions
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Chapter 21

DADA and Fake Detentions


Everybody from the sixth form was taking Defence Against the Dark Arts this year, even those who hadn’t qualified for it, since the class had been made mandatory. Most of the sixth year Gryffindors walked as one group towards their lesson. It was going to be interesting since that year the Monday DADA lessons included all four houses from the sixth year in it. Harry wondered how they would all fit in the classroom.

They arrived on the first floor classroom, and found the door open. They walked inside and gaped. Harry had seen this room changed into the varying styles of each professor that had taught the class since he had started school but that year, the classroom was changed to auditorium style seating. There were seats arranged in a semi-circle around the centre where a large space remained. At the front, the teacher’s desk resided in front of a large blackboard. It eerily reminded Harry of Courtroom Ten where he had had his hearing last year.

Harry saw that many of the Ravenclaw students had already found a seat. They walked up the steps in the middle that divided the seats in half and took the first four seats in two rows towards the middle. Sally-Anne Perks went to sit with her best friend Mary Fonteyn from Ravenclaw, and Johana Moon walked all the way to the top, and took the farthest seat on the left and sat alone. Her face disappeared behind a Wizarding Comic Strip. Terry Boot, Padma Patil, and Anthony Goldstein from Ravenclaw stood up from where they were seated and moved to sit next to the Gryffindors. They began to chat idly waiting for the new, highly speculated professors. Harry noticed, as the Hufflepuffs arrived, that those in the DA sat near them as well. Soon the classroom was full and unfortunately the only seats open were those across the steps from Harry where Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and Parkinson seated themselves. The usual spat between Harry, Ron, Draco, Crabbe and Goyle ensued just before the two professors entered the class, causing a silence to fall on the students.

Again, both individuals wore their hooded cloaks which effectively covered their heads, but soon they took them off. The class stared as Professor De Valerio was not wearing the standard robe of a witch. Instead, she wore a skin tight, red leather body suit with stiletto-styled high heeled boots that came up mid calf. The top of the body suit was sleeveless, and came up in a low turtle neck, but with a deep V groove that ran down to her chest, although it didn’t reveal much. Her arms were covered in copper, silver, and gold wire, along with leather armbands. Her skin was so pale, almost white, like porcelain. She had a perfectly shaped and symmetrical face, and her eyes were a deep purple. Her hair was raven black, but it had streaks of blue and lavender in it and she wore it wrapped in a bun at the back of her head, secured with metal chopsticks. Around her waist, she wore a belt from which a leather whip hung in a coil, along with other pouches. Around her thighs, she wore leather holsters with a sais strapped unto each. Finally, on her back was a long, slim sword strapped to a holster. She looked like a warrior ready for battle.

“Welcome to Defence Against the Dark Arts. My name is Professor Donovan,” Donovan began and startled the class into focusing on him. He wore a simple outfit: all black, with black trousers, a black silky long sleeved shirt, and a robe that did not close in front, with long sleeves. He wore a pair of black, dragon hide boots that came up to just below the knees. His hair was long, auburn in colour, tied to the nape of his neck with a leather cord. His piercing hazel eyes scanned the group of students. “This is Professor Liliana de Valerio.”

“This year I have been granted permission to teach a higher level course to begin your preparation for your careers. An unusual number of you have indicated a career as an Auror to be of interest, so consider this as your weed out course. Also remember that not many are taken on by the Ministry to train as Aurors, although it is encouraging to see so many willing, considering the times that are to come,” he said, his voice echoing round the large chamber.

“Now, I want to make certain rules clear from the beginning. First, there will be no speaking during a lesson unless you are spoken to by me or my partner. Second, I will not tolerate unpunctuality, so if you are ever late, expect yourself to be given detention with me, and I assure you it will not be pleasant. Third, whatever issues you have with any other students,” he said and stared pointedly between Harry and Draco as they turned to glare at each other, “leave them outside of class. Finally, but most important, my word is law in this class; between the beginning of class and the end of the bell ring, you, sorry excuses of wizards and witches, are mine,” he sneered at the class.

Harry, Ron and Hermione had thought Donovan had seemed intimidating when they met him at the Leaky Cauldron, but it was nothing comparing to the figure they saw before them.

“I’ve reviewed your curriculum from previous years and I pity you. You are really lacking in the subject, and there is only a year’s worth of appropriate teaching for you. You’ve been wasting your time until now. As you have heard, there are two additional classes scheduled for each house at 6 in the morning. We will meet at the Quidditch pitch at 0600 sharp. Now,” he said turning to huge boxes sitting in the front of the class, “when I call your name come to the front to pick up your designated package.”

“Abbott, Hannah,” he called and Hannah made her way to the front.

He surveyed her from head to toe. “During your morning sessions you will wear the clothes assigned to you,” he said to the students and circled the trembling Hufflepuff while Professor De Valerio pulled from the boxes a pair of sweat pants with Hannah’s last name on the rear, a t-shirt also with her last name on it, jogging shoes, a sports bra, and a pullover hooded jumper with her last name and handed the items to her. Most of the first hour was spent doing the register by house with Hufflepuff first, next Ravenclaw, then Gryffindor and finally Slytherin. They were each examined by Donovan, then handed a similar outfit as the rest of them. Hermione’s turn came up.

“I would advise that you ensure your hair is not in your way during morning class. Pony tail it or bun to the back of the head,” this was the only thing he asked of her, then had her clothes given to her.

When Harry’s turn came up, he stepped to the front.

“It will be appropriate for you to use military standard spectacles, or place a sticking charm on those,” Donovan said pointing to Harry’s glasses. “I don’t want you losing your glasses if they get knocked out. I would also recommend that your hair…” he began

“But my hair doesn’t…”

Donovan whipped around and got in Harry’s face. “Did I say you could speak?” he asked. When Harry didn’t answer, he asked again … “Are you deaf? I asked you a question; did I say you could interrupt me?”

Harry tightened his jaw muscles and glared at him. Through clenched teeth he seethed, “No.”

“No SIR,” Donovan emphasized.

“No sir,” Harry replied with contempt.

“Detention Potter, once a week for one month,” said Professor Donovan.

“But…”

“DETENTION POTTER, TWICE A WEEK, until the holiday break, now keep your mouth shut unless you want to spend 7 days in detention with me for the rest of the year,” Donovan snarled at Harry.

Harry tried very hard to hold his tongue as he glared daggers at Donovan. He couldn’t believe that he now had two Professors that he loathed.

“As I was saying, do something with that hair,” he said and Donovan dismissed Harry after Professor De Valerio handed him his clothes.

Draco sniggered at Harry as he walked back to his seat, and was startled when someone’s shadow fell upon him.

“Enlighten me… do I amuse you?” Donovan asked and the whole class was startled. How did he get there so fast?

“I…”

“Up to the front, NOW!”

Draco jumped from his chair.

“Name!”

“Draco Malfoy,” he answered arrogantly.

“Cut that hair or grow it and tie it. Make sure I never catch you with that smirk on your face again,” Donovan said with a growl, and lowered his voice so only Malfoy could hear him, “prissy boy.”

“You don’t know who my fath…”

“I know very well who your father is. Do I look like I care? So if you are such a daddy’s boy, tell your father where I am. I doubt he’d be of much use where he is now,” Donovan smirked, and Draco glared at him. “Now take your clothes and get out of my sight,” Donovan spat at Draco.

“Oh, by the way… detention, twice a week for the first half of the year, and next time you find something funny, I will make it three times a week,” Donovan said sweetly and continued to finish the register. He then turned to the class.

“Since this is your first day, we will start out easy. I know you are very well aware of what a Dementor is, and with the recent news of the mass revolt from Azkaban, they are no longer under Ministry control. So we begin the year with the Patronus Charm spell. The incantation for it is Expecto Patronum. Do you know what is also required to conjure the Patronus?” he asked and was surprised to see 16 hands rise in the air. None of them Slytherin.

“Parkinson,” he pointed to the Slytherin girl who didn’t have her hand raised.

“I... I don’t know.”

“I want an essay two feet long about Dementors and the Patronus Charm by your next class,” he said then pointed to Goyle.

“What is required to conjure the Patronus?”

Goyle just stared at him and stuttered.

“What do they take in Slytherin? Idiots?” But nobody dared laugh. “Two feet of scroll on the history of the Patronus Charm.”

“Abbott?” he called and turned to her. She was one of the people with her hands up.

“You must purge yourself of the thoughts that come to mind and think of your happiest moment when you conjure the Patronus,” she replied.

“I’m impressed. 10 points to your house. Since it seems like I have an unusual number of students who seem to know about this charm, let’s have a little fun, eh? Release him,” Donovan said to De Valerio.

De Valerio nodded and entered a room adjacent to the DADA classroom, and Donovan sat down on his desk, waiting. The students were expectant of what was about to happen, and they wondered what Donovan meant by ‘release him’.

Harry and Hermione looked at each other when the temperature in the room began to drop and they could see their breath in a cloud of steam against the frosty air. Their eyes opened wide in surprise and they whipped out their wands. They turned to the doorway where Professor De Valerio had gone into the next room, and as the lights began to flicker they saw long, grey, bony fingers wrap around the door frame, and the horrible sight of a Dementor glide in to the room and head directly towards the first student in its path.

At once, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville jumped from their seats and yelled in unison ‘Expecto Patronum’. Harry’s stag, Hermione’s otter, Ron’s opossum, and Neville’s butterflies shot forth from their wand and raced towards the Dementor, but they walked right by it and disappeared into the wall behind it.

“Bravo!” Donovan said clapping his hands mockingly, but he was obviously impressed. The temperature returned to normal, the candles ceased their flicking and the Dementor stood patiently as if awaiting orders. The students were confused; they didn’t know what was going on.

“Thank you, Professor,” Donovan said to the Dementor, which nodded, and vanished in a swirl of black mist leaving Professor De Valerio in its place. The crowd gasped.

“How did she do that?” someone blurted.

“Someday when you are advanced enough you may find out,” Donovan replied.
“If you were perceptive enough you would have known from the beginning it was not a real Dementor. Why is that?”

“But the lights…? And the air was freezing…” Dean interjected.

“You could have seen me changing the temperature of the room, and casting a spell on the torches… but what was missing?”

Hermione’s hand shot up in the air.

“Yes?”

“There weren’t any memories tormenting us,” she replied with assurance.

“Correct. Regardless,.. Four corporeal Patronuses from 16 year olds? Impressive. I was under the knowledge that the Patronus charm was not taught until the end of sixth year and perfected in seventh year, and almost no one produces a true corporeal Patronus by the end of seventh year. Care to explain?” he asked the four students who had cast the charm.

Hermione answered, “Harry taught us. Professor Lupin taught him the charm in our third year and he taught us how to do it.”

“I see. Twenty five points to each of you for such a feat. Now, I want the class to split up into pairs. The rest of you will work on creating a Patronus. Potter, Granger, Longbottom and Weasley will supervise,” Donovan instructed and the students walked down the steps to the bottom where the space was large enough to practice. The second period was spent working on the charm.

“Neville, that Patronus was amazing!” Hermione whispered to him as she walked by to look into a pair of Hufflepuffs trying to cast a corporeal Patronus, and Neville blushed.

“Did you see them? They were beautiful…” he whispered proudly of his Butterflies. He had never cast as corporeal Patronus before.

Several more students (DA members of course) managed to get a feeble shape of some sort. When the bell rang the class was dismissed. The whole lot of Slytherins had been assigned extra homework on top of the regular amount for their lack of even a wisp of white smoke.

“Potter, Malfoy… stay after class,” Donovan called after them.

“We’ll wait outside,” Ron and Hermione said to Harry and left the classroom, closing the door as they left.

“Malfoy, aren’t you the lucky one? I like to work on a first come first serve basis, and fortunately for you, I already gave detention to three other students this morning, so I am quite full at the moment,” he began and Harry couldn’t believe it.

Draco placed a smug look on his face, seeing he would be getting out of detention. Donovan continued, “So you will not be spending detention with me, instead I will arrange everything and Mr Filch will take care of you.” Draco’s face fell into a dumbfounded look. “Consider yourself lucky. I have heard of Filch’s detentions and they seemed rather light compared to my preferences. Your detentions will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the evening after dinner. Now go,” he said and dismissed a seething Draco.

Donovan then turned to Harry, who despite the fact that he was stuck in detention as well, at least Malfoy would have it worse, unless Donovan truly could be worse.
Donovan went to the door and closed it then turned to Harry. His stony expression relaxed and he smiled at Harry.

“Potter, you don’t have detention with me, instead we are meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays after dinner with Joséphine. This way the whole school will not suspect anything. But not a word to anyone, and I meant it about your hair,” he said calmly.

“I don’t understand,” Harry said taken aback by his change in attitude.

“Just because you are extremely talented in my class doesn’t mean I will not treat you like the others. Any other person who had interrupted me would have received the same treatment. Luckily for you, this time I used it to both set an example and to set up your alibi to spend two days with me after class. Please remember this though, for if you do speak up again you will have extra days and those will be detention. I will see you at 0600 tomorrow. You may go,” Donovan said as he sat down on his chair and began to look through some papers.

Harry left the classroom utterly confused.

“What did he say?” Ron asked as soon as he saw him walk out of the room and they began to head to Gryffindor. They were done for today.

“I don’t have detention; instead I have my lessons with Joséphine. It was all a farce so I have an excuse, he did say that if I do speak up again he will definitely give me detention,” Harry said with a frown, then he grinned, “but Malfoy’s is real. He is having detention with Filch twice a week,” he exclaimed unable to hide his delight.

“That git finally got something that’s coming to him,” Ron said elated.

The whole school was a buzz of conversation and speculation about DADA during the evening meal. News of Joséphine, Harry’s, Malfoy’s, and two other students’ detention had spread like wild fire, as well as the events of the DADA classes. The other item of gossip was the appearance of Narcissa Malfoy, rumoured to have come to dispute the placement of her daughter in Gryffindor. No one really knew what had happened, but Bianca was still here, and still in Gryffindor. Narcissa had left fuming, Bianca returned in tears, and Malfoy had earned even more detention, even with Snape, for he hexed about half the school in his bad mood. Although all he had to do was clean a few dirty cauldrons for Snape, and with magic.

After dinner the Gryffindor students lounged in the common room as they worked on homework. At eight o’clock, Fred volunteered to distract Joséphine while the rest went to the first DA meeting of the year. Ginny also had to stay behind because she could not rid herself of Bianca Malfoy.

“Since the majority of us have homework from DADA to perfect the Patronus charm, we will practice that tonight. Also, I want to hear suggestions as to anything that you might want to try and learn here, and I think this year we should practice duelling,” Harry said to the assembled group. “Oh and one last thing, if you think there are trustworthy people who would be good members, then turn in their names and we will discuss it and see who we should accept into the DA. Hermione has made up a new list so everyone needs to sign up. Now you know that the parchment is enchanted and Hermione has placed a much stronger protection on this one than last year’s, and you will have to get a password for permission in order to tell someone about us,” Harry said and turned it over to Hermione.

Harry was surprised to see Cho was there again, but he had pretty much ignored her and they had barely spoken a word to each other. He had his own girlfriend, and he wasn’t the least bit attracted to Cho anymore. She was still pretty, but she didn’t interest him. Harry also noticed that Cho seemed to be back again with Michael Corner, as they were seating next to each other. Hermione explained the list of some of the results from the hexes she used on the parchment, but she didn’t say which hexes she actually had used.

The DA members each signed their names, and then the group split up into pairs to work on Patronuses. They spent an hour on the work, and headed to bed before curfew. All Gryffindor fifth years and above went to bed early since they would have their DADA class at 6:00 in the morning.

Harry groaned when Neville woke him up at about five.

“I reckon we should go to the kitchens and see if we can get some food,” Ron said as he sat up from the floor. Harry had to kick him off the bed to get him to get up.

“Oh no!” Harry exclaimed with worry.

“What?” Ron asked him startled.

“I forgot to search for a spell for my hair and my glasses!” Harry said as he flicked his wand on himself and in an instant his pyjamas were replaced by the jogging pants, the t-shirt, running shoes, and pullover. Ron had still not managed to get that spell right, so he had to change his clothes manually, much to his annoyance.

“I need Hermione’s help,” Harry said and left the room.

He was surprised to find the common room full of students, eating breakfast from a small buffet table set up with food. Dobby was serving food to the students.

“Dobby!” Harry greeted the elf with surprise.

“Harry Potter is awake, sir. Dobby is glad to see that the great Harry Potter again, sir.” The elf bowed low to Harry.

“How did you know to get this food here?” Harry asked as Dobby served him a plate.

“The brother of Harry Potter’s Wheezy said Harry Potter and his friend would be up very early, and go to class with no breakfast. Dobby agreed to help Harry Potter and his friends. Dobby cooked food for the house of Harry Potter,” the elf replied with his high squeaky voice.

“Thanks Dobby. You’re a great friend,” Harry gave the elf a huge smile.

“Oh, Harry Potter is much too nice to Dobby. Dobby will help Harry Potter anytime,” the elf said almost bursting with excitement.

Harry took his food and searched for Hermione. “Hermione, I need your help! I’ve never been able to do anything with my hair, how I am going to get it in shape for class… and I forgot about my glasses,” he said sitting next to her pleading for her help.

“I knew you’d forget, so I took the time to research this yesterday. Now, I have never tried this, so it may take a few times, but the spell is simple enough,” she said and pointed her wand at Harry.

Hermione muttered the hair trimming spell, and smiled at the result. “Here take a look,” she said handing him a mirror. Harry stared at the stranger in the mirror. His scar was completely visible now, but he really didn’t like how he looked with the short hair. He watched with some satisfaction as his hair grew to the proper size.

“Harry, what did you do?” Hermione exclaimed when she saw his hair back to normal.

“Nothing, it always does that,” he replied, “but I really didn’t like how it looked,” he added.

“That’s probably why it never works. I think something with your … you know … makes you cast spells without you thinking about it. You do need to do something about it. So let’s try to grow it long,” she said and again flicked her wand at him.

Harry looked in the mirror, and grinned at the shoulder length, shinny, messy black hair.

“Mmh,” Hermione huffed.

“What?” Harry asked feeling worried.

“Nothing, just that long hair suits you,” she said to him. “Now we need to put it back in a pony tail,” she said and Accio-ing a hair brush, she brushed his hair and tied it with a black leather band. “There, what do you think?” she asked with a toothy grin.

Harry looked at his reflection and although it was different, he liked the way his hair looked long. “Not bad.” This time his hair remained how it was. As Harry moved the mirror to look at his hair, he caught sight of some 7th year girls who were looking at him with a lot of interest. He quickly put the mirror down, and focused on Hermione.

Hermione performed a good sticking charm on Harry’s glasses. “It’ll only work for two hours, and if you need to take them off, the release spell is Relaxio,” Hermione said to him.

“Hey mate, look at you,” Fred said to him as he sat down on a chair with a plate of food, his own hair tied back. Harry grinned at him

“What about you?” Harry asked to Hermione whose hair was still a wild brown bushy mess.

“Parvati said she would help me with it. She’s got some Sleakeaze potion. I better go find her,” she said and headed up to her dormitory.

When it was time to leave, Hermione came back down the steps with her hair in a French braid. It was a little weird to see her hair tamed into something other than a mop of bushy hair.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh year students walked out onto the Quidditch pitch. They used their wands to light up their path as it was still somewhat dark; the sun wouldn’t rise for a little while yet. The Slytherins hadn’t arrived yet, but Professor Donovan and Professor De Valerio were already out there.

Just before 6:00, the Slytherins arrived. Both groups stared at each other noticing how different they all looked. Most males had been told to do something with their hair, while almost all females had been told to tie their hair. Harry noticed how a few girls, who tended to overdo the make up sometimes, actually looked better without any of it. Pansy and Millicent were the obvious exception who looked worse either way.

Donovan stood in front of the group and pulled out a register.

“I will call your name and I want you to line up by last name, left to right, and I want a grid of fifteen people per line, separate each other by an arms length to your right and in front of you,” Donovan said and called for the first person on the list.

“Abbot, Hannah; Ackworth, Denise; Ashford, William… Bassett Erika; Battle Rebecca… Bell Katie; Bellou, Joséphine…” he began to call down the list, and the students realised that it was alphabetical regardless of what house they were in. Some automatically knew who would be right next to them. Hermione ended up with a Rebecca Grant, from Gryffindor 7th year to her left, and Daphne Greengrass from Slytherin 6th year on her right. She was glad that Rebecca was in between her and Goyle. Harry ended up with Sally-Anne Perks to his left, whose best friend was a Ravenclaw, so she was never seen in Gryffindor, except right at curfew time and she was very shy and rarely participated with the rest of them. The other sixth year girl that Harry didn’t know much about was Johana Moon. She was a loner, and up until know Harry had thought ceased to exist. He shared very few classes with her, and according to Parvati and Lavender, she was a psycho witch that was best to be left alone. To his right, Harry had a girl by the name of Riley Rowlett, who was a 7th year Ravenclaw. The Weasley four were flanked by a Slytherin on each side. Ginny had the little Worsley boy to her right, but he was frightened of her and her famous Bat-Bogey hex. Fred towered over the fifth year Slytherin to his left. Once everyone was sorted, Donovan made the list in his hands disappear and addressed the group.

“Listen up. Pay attention for I will only say things once,” he said as he paced back and forth. “From now on, I want you out here, in formation at 0600 hours. No talking, slacking, burping, farting, smiling, crying, blinking, yawning, or anything will be allowed without my permission. You better use the toilets before you come, or wear a diaper because you are not allowed to leave until class is over. When I speak, you listen; when I give an order, you comply. Resistance will be to your worst advantage. Anything out of line will land you in detention. Also, I don’t want you sissies to run to the other Professors to complain about your treatment here, for you will learn there is nothing anyone can do about it, and the tattlers can be assured that I will make it a living hell,” he screamed at them as he walked down among them.

“WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT!?” he screamed at a fifth year student who had turned to look at him. “You will stare at the back of the head of the person in front, and don’t anyone dare to move an inch. Is that clear?” he asked but didn’t wait for an answer. “When I ask a question you will answer me, yes sir, or no sir. Whenever you are asked to speak, you will end everything with sir. NOW, IS THAT CLEAR!?”

“Yes SIR!” the group answered in unison.

“Good. You adapt easily enough,” Donovan smirked and continued. “These morning sessions are going to be used to get you slackers into shape. I can already see some of you asking why would you need a P.E. class, P.E. is ‘physical education’ for those dim-witted ones who don’t know. Why do you need P.E. you wonder? Well just look at you!” he said stopping in front of Crabbe. “And you…” he said moving to Malfoy. Harry had to bite his tongue not to laugh, or smirk.

“But physical strength is not only important for defence techniques, it is imperative for a wizard. It is a fact that most fat, out of shape wizards are slower than slimmer ones, especially in a duel. Also, your spell work will be stronger, more powerful. You hand–mind coordination can be improved, and being physically fit can very well save your life. The better reflexes you have, the best chance you have to dodge a curse. The stronger legs you posses, the better you can outrun an opponent. Also, what if you lose your wand? A well placed punch can knock someone out cold,” Donovan said confidently. “The first several weeks of this year we will focus on building your stamina and increasing your strength. It is for this reason that you have been outfitted with these clothes. We will now take a moment to do a physical evaluation to ensure everyone is fit to take the rigors of the class.” Donovan motioned to two tents placed on the pitch. “Girls will go with Madam Tesla; boys will go with Mr Arnold Chazantsky. They are both mediwizards from St. Mungo’s. Answer the questions fully and honestly. Once you have your physical evaluation, run ten laps around the pitch. Once you are finished, you are dismissed for today.”

Harry stood in his spot, watching as one by one the students entered the tent accordingly, and came out several minutes later. Professor De Valerio instructed them on a few warm up stretches, and then each began their laps around the field. Every once in a while, a student would come out of the tent and was sent to Donovan who would flip through their charts and instruct them on different exercises. Harry knew some of them had asthma, or some sort of illness that required special needs. When his turn came up, he walked to the tent and entered.

“Mr Potter, et iz a grat honour to meet you,” The Mediwizard said shaking his hand. Harry always felt odd when a wizard would greet him like they were meeting a celebrity, which he was.

“Dis vill not take long...” he began to flip through a chart of papers. “Et zeem like you ave ad kwait der experiences over der past few years,” he commented. Harry could barely understand a word he was saying through his heavy accent. “You zeem to ave come off vell. Ok, iph you stand Ich vill take your weight, body fat, musel index…” The wizard began as Harry stood up. Arnold waved his wand over at Harry, and he felt a tingling sensation all over him. Arnold watched as numbers began to fill in the chart.

“Blood pressure: normal; hart rait: healty; temperature: normal. Der bone re-growth vas done sehr well. You should not ave problems with dat. Everyting zeem in order, Mr Potter. Now Ich ave a few kwestions to ask…” Arnold said and smiled. Harry smiled although he still could not understand.

Harry tried his best and answered the short questions as a quill took his responses. The Mediwitch gave him a clean bill of health, and Harry was sent out. He joined the students stretching, did the warm up and began jogging around the pitch. He caught up to Hermione, who to his surprise seemed to be faring well as she ran. She was on her sixth lap already. They jogged in silence for a while. Harry noticed that the students had begun to group into the several houses. Hermione finished with her laps, and she said she would meet them before breakfast. Ron, Fred, George, and Ginny joined him now. By the time Harry was done with his tenth lap, Ron was heaving.

“How many more do you have?” Harry asked as he neared his starting point.

“Five,” Ron wheezed out.

“You need to pace yourself, slow down a bit,” Harry said and felt bad for him. He exited the pitch, did the required stretches, and headed towards the Gryffindor common room. He took a long shower once he got to his room, massaging his sore legs. He was going to really feel it tomorrow. It had felt good to run today, but his legs were shaky, and it had been an effort to make it up the steps without feeling like his legs would give out.

He went out to the common room and sat with Hermione who was reviewing her notes for Arithmancy (even though the first class was that day). Harry and Ron didn’t have class until after break, and it was double potions with all four houses. After a while Ron came up to the room from the field, and dropped on the couch.

“Ron, go take a shower!” Hermione chided and he grudgingly made it up the steps.
When he returned later, the three of them headed to breakfast. The entire 5th, 6th and 7th year classes were ravenous, even the Gryffindors who had had a small breakfast provided by Dobby. The elves were hard pressed to keep up with demand.

“I’ll see you in Potions,” Hermione said as she left the breakfast table and headed to her class.

“What should we do? We don’t have homework to do in urgency,” Harry asked as he finished his breakfast, even though the pile of homework was already growing.

“I am going back to bed,” Ron said amidst his last mouthful.

Harry yawned and stretched. “Sounds good to me,” he replied and the two headed to their beds.

****

The first Potions class of the year was awful. Snape again singled out Harry in this class, and made him sit with Pansy Parkinson, while Hermione was paired with Draco. Pansy sabotaged Harry’s potion, and ruined hers, but it was Harry who got blamed for both, earning a zero score, and loosing house points for spoiling Pansy’s potion. After lunch, the trio had gone to Charms with Lupin, then to Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid. To Hermione’s astonishment, Hagrid had shown the class the elusive Crumpled-back Snorkack, most commonly referred in his native land as the Fabelbern Monster. Hagrid had it on loan from Mr Lovegood who was going to donate the animal to the Wizarding Zoo. Hermione had to endure Harry’s and Ron’s taunts about her disbelief of Luna, and Harry wondered if the Nargles in mistletoe were real then, or the Heliopaths.

During dinner, the whole school was rambling about events of the day. It was amazing what effect a little bit of exercise can have on people. Those who had been in DADA this morning had felt more energetic throughout the day, and they had been a chatterbox and a lively crowd. It was finally subsiding now as their tiredness caught up to them, but the whole school in general was in a good mood. Potions had been dreadful as usual for everybody, and Gryffindor managed, over the course of the day, to lose all the points gained during DADA the day before. At least life seemed normal at Hogwarts.

Professor Donovan stopped by the Gryffindor table just before Harry and Joséphine left the dining room table to go to their ‘detentions’. “Bellou, Potter. I have something of importance to tend to before your detentions this evening. Be in my office at 7:30,” he said and turned on his heel leaving the Great Hall.

Everyone offered their condolences to the pair, except Ron and Hermione who simply smiled. Harry was looking forward to these sessions. He wasn’t really interested in spending time with Donovan, but he had had a long conversation with Hermione about what she read in those scrolls that Dumbledore gave him. A lot of the things in the scrolls sounded pretty amazing. Joséphine had left few minutes before, and Harry wondered about her. He hadn’t met her yet, but had heard a lot about her from Fred.

As he walked from the great hall to the DADA classroom, he noticed a person on his hands and knees in the hallway. Harry smirked when he noticed the blond hair. Mrs Norris was perched on a statue pedestal, obviously keeping an eye on Malfoy.

Harry intentionally walked along the side that Malfoy had just scrubbed clean with a hand brush and soapy water.

“Watch it, Potter!” Malfoy yelled at him.

“Oops,” Harry replied mockingly as he ground the soles of his shoes onto the floor. “Better get that before Mrs Norris tells Filch.”

“I wouldn’t be so cheerful if I were you. You have what’s coming to you in about 5 minutes,” Malfoy glared.

“Just watching you scrub the floors like a Muggle maid will be enough to get me through a year’s worth of detention, ferret,” Harry laughed and left a furious Malfoy behind. Joséphine had watched with interest as she had walked up to them, but she had cautiously stepped around the cleaned area, and hadn’t said a word. They arrived in the DADA classroom and found Donovan tying a message onto an eagle’s talon. He sent the animal through the window, and turned to greet the students.

“Good, you are on time,” he said as he went to the door and closed it, and then locked it with both a physical lock and a magical one. Donovan then cast a spell to keep people from the outside from hearing what they were doing within.

“Take a seat. I thought that before we started I would talk about the kinds of Mage and the magic a Mage Type is known for. So let’s start with what I know about magic, since it will help explain better the capabilities of a Mage Type who wields a certain kind magic,” he began as he offered them a seat, and he sat at the edge of his desk.

He didn’t waste any time and dove right in. “Before the use of conventional Magic of today, magic was catalogued into eight distinct categories. Also, ages before, magic users were very limited to the magic they could use. Most cases, a wizard, sorcerer, or mage could control and master only one type of magic with limited knowledge of any of the others,” he began to explain and both Joséphine and Harry were paying rapt attention.

Donovan continued, “the eight categories of magic are known by the colors White, Black, Red, Purple, Blue, Yellow, Orange and Green. White Magic is also known as Holy Magic, while Black Arts is commonly referred to as Dark Arts or Dark Magic; Red magic was mostly known as Battle Magic, and Purple Magic as Channelling Magic. Blue Magic is Earth or Nature magic. Yellow magic is best recognized as Psionics, and Orange Magic is considered the Art of Enchantment. Green Magic is the least known of all, and simply referred to as Spell Creation Magic.” As he spoke, Donovan flicked his wand and wrote the color of each magic on the blackboard, whit its alias written alongside of it. Josephine was taking notes, so Harry felt inclined to do so too, although she seemed to be scribbling a lot more than she should be. Donovan paused to allow Harry to finish writing the list.

“For centuries now, conventional magic has no longer been viewed in these categories, instead all magic has been combined and now we think of charms, transfiguration spells, defence spells, Unforgivables and the sort depending on the result desired.”

Harry raised his hand in the air.

“So you are saying that magic is still separated into these categories? But that instead of learning or specialising in any one kind, we learn just what a spell does rather than what magic is behind the spell, right?” He paraphrased because he wanted to make sure he understood correctly.

“Exactly. Take the summoning spell Accio. This spell makes use of purple magic for the most part. You know that Accio will allow you to summon an object to your person, but you don’t know that it’s because Purple magic is the magic that summons items and allows you to control or manipulate things like air, matter, and nullify the effects of gravity. Purple Magic is the strongest and most powerful of all magic types. It is used for many things, but mostly control. Besides summoning items, Purple magic also is responsible for spells that conjure items and spells that change one object into another. A lot of Transfiguration Spells are based on Purple Magic. This type of magic has been of quite interest to Wizards because it is rumoured that if properly mastered, allows a human to fly, but this hasn’t been proven. In its purest form, purple magic is very complicated.”

Harry wrote the word ‘Transfiguration’ next to Purple magic on his list, and made a note about using purple magic to control magic and other things.

Donovan continued, “another example of learning without focusing on a specific type of magic is when a wizard concocts a Potion. Potions work because they rely on blue magic. Potions are not pure blue magic, but because of the magic of nature, a combination of ingredients will work. Blue Magic is very rare to find in pure form, but the strongest trace of this magic can be found in magical plants, and all pertaining to nature. A wizard can learn to channel Blue magic from nature, and when wielded with competence, a wizard can control the weather and nature itself. Blue Magic is also capable of healing, and it’s the reason you will find a great number of potions are used mostly to treat an ailment because of the restorative properties of Blue Magic. It is believed that Blue magic, if mastered, can be used alone with out any need of any other magic, as the wielder can morph it into any other form of magic. Blue magic is wandless magic entirely. It is mostly known as "Earth Magic."

Harry scribbled on his notes next to Blue magic the words ‘Earth Magic’, ‘wandless’, and a note explaining it to be the magic of nature, most present in plant potion ingredients.

“Orange Magic is what enchanters use. Orange magic is responsible for enchantments on items such as weapons to attack with magical damage; objects can also be charmed to repel certain charms. Disarming spells and defence spells are best examples of orange magic. It's a handy sort of magic, but a Mage should never depend on it alone. An example would be the Jelly-legs jinx. It’s based mainly on orange magic for it enchants a person’s legs, but it also uses purple magic to allow control.”

“So yes, magic is still in its 8 basic forms, but we now study it in terms of known spells rather than the pure magic essence behind the spells,” Donovan told him. “A lot of the knowledge of the foundation of magic has been lost. Most of us know of magic and how to manipulate it, but the basic principle on how magic works is unknown. There are a myriad of spells and charms that we don’t know how they were created, we can only duplicate them. It is for this reason that creating new spells is rare, and why it takes such a long time. The art of creating spells is basically an understanding of the use of Green Magic. Green Magic is the most complicated and unknown of all. You must read abut it for years before you can even attempt to use it, for it can be dangerous. It is the reason why not many new spells are created, for one tiny mistake can cause death. Once you gain understanding of Green Magic, you can create new spells, charms, curses, and hexes based on the powers of other magic types. A creation magic user is the most knowledgeable on casting methods, such as entirely mental, gesture, or word speaking, or a combination. Most times new spells or charms happen as accidents.”

Harry scribbled more notes on his parchment, while his brain was processing all of the information he received.

Donovan looked up at the clock.

“It is time for you to return to your common room. It would look suspicious if I make you stay past the required time. Remember, you must keep all of this a secret. I know now that Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are aware of your situation. I will strongly advise you to make sure they keep things a secret. I don’t want to have to intervene,” he said, his voice stern, the full meaning of his words obvious.

“I will handle my friends,” Harry said standing up and staring at him. He was not going to let him threaten his friends like that.

“Good, we have an understanding. Now if you would please leave,” he said and the students heard the clicking of heels coming from the adjacent room to the classroom. Professor De Valerio stepped through the threshold, clothed in all black leather body suit in a different style than the red one, and fully armoured as usual. Her outer robe was tied around her neck, her hood pulled back.

“Good evening, Professor,” Harry said when he spotted her.

She nodded in acknowledgement of the pair. He had noticed that she rarely spoke, and had only received a few words from her when she instructed him on stretches right before running this morning; otherwise he hadn’t heard her say another word.

“I will see you in class tomorrow, and during our next session I’ll finish explaining about the remaining magic types and we’ll be working a little bit on experimenting with the feel of each magic type,” Donovan said to them and escorted them to the door.

“Oh, one moment,” he paused and waved his hand over them, “just in case you are asked.”

Harry blinked a couple of times as a few images entered his mind. He saw himself with Joséphine scrubbing the DADA classroom floor each with a toothbrush. He noticed that their robes were now soiled as well as if they had been working for a while.

“How did you do that?” Harry asked.

“It is just like the Obliviate spell, only instead of removing memories, it creates some for you. It isn’t really a memory, instead it is an image your eyes see. Only it happens so fast, you don’t really see it, but your brain process it. You will always know they are not real. You better hurry, unless you wish to get caught past curfew,” he said and Joséphine and Harry walked out of the room and headed back to Gryffindor.

Harry walked in silence beside Joséphine who didn’t seem too inclined to talk. Harry was wondering why their nearness would cause such a reaction in his body as he became aware of the tingling sensation again. It was much stronger because she was so near him.

“We haven’t been really introduced,” Harry said to the girl.

Joséphine turned to look at him a bit surprised. “Non, we ‘ave not,” she replied and smiled a little.

“I am Harry Potter,” Harry said and stuck out his hand a little awkwardly.

“Eet is nice to meet vous, I am Joséphine Bel…” she began speaking with a genuine smile but suddenly stopped as her hand made contact with Harry’s. She screamed in agony and tried desperately to let go of his hand, but Harry had clutched it hard as he too screamed in pain. She passed out the same moment he did.

*********

A/N: I really hope that wasn't too much information and too confusing. If it is, ask and I will explain(try to anyway). I know the story and the background to it, so it kindof makes sense to me, but i may not have explained well. THanks for reading!

Chapter 22: The Ghost of Sirius Black
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Chapter 22

The Ghost of Sirius Black


At the same moment that Joséphine’s hand touched his, Harry’s scar burst with a burning, head-splitting, blinding pain.

“Argh!” Harry cried out and everything whirled about in his vision. Harry also had a sense that Joséphine was within him. In a sort of detached way, Harry wondered if Joséphine had had a Portkey hidden in her hand, but the sensation was not the same as being Portkeyed. Suddenly, he found himself amidst pitch black darkness. His head was killing him, and he began to panic as he tried to feel his way around, but there was nothing; it was as if he was floating in nothingness… was Joséphine with him? He sensed an alien feeling of fear. Harry shuddered involuntarily.

Unexpectedly, a voice cried out in anger. Harry’s blood chilled at the sound of that horrible voice, and his vision became clear again, but instead of being once again in the corridor at Hogwarts, he was in a poorly lit, cavernous room. Peter Pettigrew was bowing in front of him, cowering with fear. Intense hate and anger rose in Harry, and it was this that saved him from being discovered, because these feelings were also in the host. What's more, the instant he entered Voldemort’s mind Harry was aware of the strong effort that Voldemort was making to keep Harry blocked from his mind for the past two months. Harry now was also aware that Voldemort didn’t know of his presence, yet. His mind was preoccupied with something else and Voldemort was confident in his Occlumens abilities to believe that Harry couldn’t somehow infiltrate through.

“… Progress? You call this progress!?” Voldemort shouted as he flung a vial containing a pale blue potion at Pettigrew’s feet. The bottle exploded in a rain of glass and liquid. Peter cowered and flinched… but he dared not move from his spot.

Voldemort continued his ranting, “…it has been two months and I am not rid of this!” Harry felt as if he, himself, was screaming at the bald, writhing man with another’s voice. What a pathetic creature bowed before him.

Peter shook more violently. Harry noticed that Pettigrew had another bottle of that pale bluish potion in his silver hand and some bandages in the other. There were other potions about the floor as well but Harry couldn’t identify them. Harry saw as his host body extended his bare arms and looked down on his chest. To Harry’s surprise, he was covered in lesions, sores and other injuries, but there was evidence of healing.

“B.b..but Master… if you would only tell your servant what caused this, then maybe I could find a better cure… please… I have done all you asked… and you won’t let me get someone train…”

“Silence!” Harry spat and stood up, his body racked with agony, but he would not dare scream, or show weakness. Harry desperately wanted to remain unnoticed by Voldemort.

The room was silent as Voldemort seethed at Peter. Harry could sense he was frustrated beyond reason. Somehow he had been injured, and Harry had the sense to avoid trying to search Voldemort’s mind for the cause. He hadn’t been noticed as of yet, but he desperately was trying to sever connection with this monster before he figured out he was there and tried to pry information from him.

“Was it the boy, Master?” Peter asked with a trembling, squeaky voice.

Voldemort whirled around and Harry saw for a split second the memory of the department of Mysteries, when Voldemort had taken over Harry’s body and had screamed at Albus to kill him; something happened that had pushed Voldemort out of Harry’s being with an unbelievable amount of pain cursing through him as if his blood had been set on fire.

“Why do you ask such a thing?” Voldemort asked with calm, venomous voice, which seemed to have a worse effect on Peter than his screams of anger.

“I…I... I overheard Bellatrix. She said something happened to you that night… and… and you’ve been… you have sent everyone away but me… she said that you took the Potter boy, and he somehow pushed you… she thought that he hurt you, but she didn’t see well when you brought her back… and you went to your chambers…
Master… if you tell me what the boy did… I can help you heal better… I…”

“You stupid fool… you should be honoured I give you my trust. You are the only one who has shown me true loyalty, and you have seen me at my worst… it is why I entrust you with this… which I am certain you have not spoken to anyone about…” Voldemort hissed.

“No… no… Master! I swear…they have asked, but I have not told them anything except what you have told me to say…” Peter voiced as he trembled.

“Only because you fear more of what I would do to you if you disobey…” Voldemort spat.

“Master… the Death Eaters… they are getting restless… they have not seen you… and you haven’t summoned them in two months… they are…”

“All useless incompetent fools! Do I have to baby sit them at all times...?” Voldemort paced in anger. “Bring me my cloak. I will summon all Death Eaters… I have a plan…” Harry’s mind seemed to be pulling back. He was severing the connection. Harry’s vision was fading again and he heard a faint voice calling his name. He concentrated on that familiar voice. As he felt a pull on his thoughts and drifted away from Voldemort, Harry heard Voldemort’s voice dimmer. “…it is time to see where his loyalties lie…”


“Harry? Harry?”

Someone was shaking him awake.

“Ron?” Harry asked groggily as he came to see Ron’s face as he opened his eyes.

“What happened?” Harry asked as he was helped to a sitting position. Harry felt the coldness of the stone floor and he rubbed his scar as it still prickled.

“I don’t know. We were walking down the hall doing our prefect rounds when we heard the screams. We found you both unconscious on the floor and holding hands.” Ron said pointing to the girl who was now lying on the floor. Harry noticed he was still clutching her hand. He let go of her hand, but she didn’t stir, she was still not awake.

“What happened? Are you all right?” Hermione asked with concern as Ron helped Harry to sit up.

“I don’t know. All I remember is her taking my hand, and then my scar erupted in pain. The pain was too much and I lost consciousness…” he hesitated to tell them about the dream, the vision… what if it was another of Voldemort’s traps? Then Harry remembered what had happened last time when he didn’t tell anyone about his dreams… “I had a vision about Voldemort,” he said quietly. Ron squirmed at the mention of the name. Hermione was surprised, and immediately worried.

“What was it?” She asked.

Harry retold the events, the emotions and everything that he had seen.
“Do you think it is a trick?” he wondered.

“I don’t know, Harry. It could all be a ploy, but if what you saw was true then we must prepare for an attack. We need to tell Dumbledore,” Hermione reasoned. “Have you had any more dreams about Voldemort this summer?” she asked while she checked on Joséphine. Harry noticed Ron was scanning the map to make sure they were alone, he frowned.

“No, my scar has hurt a couple of times but it’s been really quiet. When I entered his mind today, I could sense the effort that he’s been using to keep me out… I felt him and he was weak… and I don’t think he was aware of me being there… I think he has been trying to keep me from discovering what his condition is.”

“This is weird…” Ron said scratching his head and looking at the map.

“What is it?” Hermione asked.

“It’s Joséphine… she doesn’t show up on the map!” Ron said and showed the map to Harry and Hermione. True enough, all three of them where there, but neither Joséphine’s dot nor name was on the map.

They turned to stare at the girl. Hermione was frowning.

“Could there be something wrong with the map?” Ron asked.

“Remus said that the map never lies,” Harry offered.

“What? She doesn’t exist then?” Ron said confused. He cleared the map and activated it again. Joséphine was still not showing.

“I don’t know; it is possible that there’s a glitch,” Hermione said but doubted it.
“I wonder if the map’s somehow tied with the school? I mean, she wasn’t really born in England and she wasn’t inscribed in the book at her birth, so she didn’t get a Hogwarts letter…” Hermione offered.

The girl fluttered her eyes open, and moaned slightly as she came to.

Hermione helped her to sit up. “Qu’est çe que passé?” she said as she sat up. She then remembered where she was and asked in the correct language. “What ’appen?” she asked as she rubbed her hand. She remembered shaking Harry’s hand and a searing pain engulfed her head. She had heard the voice of someone shouting angrily, and she had seen the glimpse of a dark chamber lit by torches. A balding man was cowering at her feet, and then she had completely blacked out.

“You both screamed in pain when you touched hands and then passed out,” Hermione said eyeing her warily.

“Zhat never ’appen to moi before,” Joséphine said sounding perplexed. She hesitated to say anything about the images she had seen when her hand had touched his. She turned to Harry. “Et, vous feel… strange… feeling when near moi, non?” She asked tentatively. “I never feel zhat before until I see you in train station,” she said frightened. “I feel eet again when I see vous, and when I touch your ‘and I ‘eard a voice, in my head before I faeent,” she added with hesitation.

“Yes, I felt the same, but I don’t know what it is. I’ve never felt that before,” Harry replied even though it had been a bit hard to understand all she said. He asked her if she saw anything, and she said that it had all gone black and she didn’t remember.

“Do you think you should go to see Madam Pomfrey to make sure you’re all right?” Hermione asked.

Harry didn’t want to go to the Hospital Wing on the second day of school! And he was feeling fine.

“I theenk I am all right,” Joséphine said and gave Harry a questioning look.

“I feel fine,” Harry said and shrugged.

“Do you think it somehow had to do with your Mageability?” Hermione suddenly asked.

“Professor Donovan didn’t mention anything about something like this,” Harry replied.

“Well, I was reading part of that scroll you lent me and I remember reading something about certain Mages having the ability to connect minds without the use of Legilimency. Maybe that’s something one of you can do,” Hermione offered. “Here, grab my hand.”

“I’m not so sure we should…”

Hermione grabbed his hand. Nothing happened. She shook hands with Joséphine, nothing happened either.

“Maybe it only happens between the two of you,” Ron said looking to Joséphine and Harry. Joséphine and Harry looked at each other. Joséphine nodded, and Harry did as well. They stood up facing each other and reached for each other’s hands. Harry’s tingling sensation was very pronounced and he could feel a wave of almost static quality as their fingers reached for each other’s. They shook hands. Nothing happened.

“Maybe you should ask Professor Donovan and talk to Dumbledore,” Hermione said frowning.

“I think you should do that tomorrow,” Ron said scanning the map.

“Why?”

“Snape’s on his way up from the dungeons,” Ron said and the four of them raced back to Gryffindor for the night. Harry lay in his bed wondering what had happened. He wondered if Voldemort hadn’t invaded his mind and it had all been a trick. But then, why did Joséphine feel pain in her hand and pass out at the same time he did? She had also heard Voldemort’s voice for a brief second. Somehow their minds had been connected. What sort of connection did they posses at that moment? All of these puzzling thoughts swam in Harry’s head before he finally fell asleep.

Harry had a chance to speak with Donovan during their next lesson on Thursday. Donovan believed that it had something to do with Joséphine’s type of Mage, and informed them that Joséphine was a Daiteran Mage, a kind of Mage known for the wielding of Psionic Magic.

“…Yellow Magic is one of the most dangerous and it is very powerful. It is Mental magic for the most part. Most people think that Psionics is the same as Telekinesis because it enables Wizards to move things with their mind (including themselves). But Telekinesis isn’t the only aspect of Psionics. Psionics allow the wielder to mentally cause others pain, control the mind of creatures and bend their will directly, manipulate and freeze portions of time, alter memories and there are also several forms of mind reading. Psionic Magic is completely wandless. I think that what happened was a result of Josephine’s Mageability and something triggered her to connect with your mind, but since both of you weren’t prepared for the connection, it caused you to pass out. I will begin working with Joséphine to learn to control it and with you to learn to resist it…”

Donovan had asked for them to inform him if it ever happened again. Harry didn’t think about it again as school assignments began to pick up, and he was also busy trying to calm Ron down. Quidditch tryouts were approaching and Ron was becoming more and more anxious everyday. Harry wondered how he was going to lead the team if he didn’t get a grip on himself.

A week later, Ron was wringing his hands in nervousness. He appeared a delicate shade of green as he paced nervously around the locker rooms.

“Ron, relax! You’re starting to make me nervous!” Harry said with a grin as he tied the laces on his trainers that had come undone. He could flick his wand and do it, but old Muggle habits were hard to get rid off.

Harry thought that they couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to hold tryouts. The sun was shining brightly, helping to warm the chilly morning air and the wind had died down considerably from they night before. A cool mist hung about the grounds as it began to disappear with the early morning sunshine.

“Hey, are you coming or what? People are starting to arrive,” Ginny poked her head into the locker rooms.

“Right,” Ron said and knocked over his broom as he tried to grab it. Harry clapped a hand on Ron’s shoulder. “Don’t fret so much! Just organise the people by position and sit back and watch,” Harry said as he led the way, his Firebolt casually flung over his shoulder. Ron took a deep breath and followed. His eyes nearly fell from their sockets as he stared at the large crowd gathered around the pitch. There were students from first all the way to seventh year. Most had brooms with them, but a large number of them didn’t. Ron doubted that even the school would have enough for all of them. He tried not to appear nervous as he smiled at the lot that greeted him cheerfully. Suddenly everyone talked to him on a first name basis and was trying to talk to him and Harry, hoping perhaps to make a good impression and improve their chances. The group looked at him expectantly. Ron walked ahead to stand in front of the crowd.

“Erm… right…” Ron began as he cleared his throat.

“Ron!” Hermione was walking towards him with a megaphone. Ron smiled gratefully at her, and she smiled back. Hermione waved at Harry and the others and headed towards the stand. Ron now wished he hadn’t turned in this direction. It seemed that every remaining Gryffindor that wasn’t down for try-outs was up in the stands to watch. He noticed Professor McGonagall and other members of the staff were there. To make matters worse, some people from the other houses were there as well.

Ron placed the megaphone to his lips and began, “hello,” he said a bit too loudly. The megaphone was charmed to amplify his voice. People jumped startled. Ron blushed. “Sorry,” he said in a normal voice.

“Good morning, everyone. Thank you for coming to the Gryffindor Quidditch Team try outs. As most of you should know,” Ron began nervously but his trembling voice calmed as he progressed, “we are trying out for new positions and for the reserve team as well,” he paused wondering what he should say next. “I want everyone to split up into groups. Chaser tryouts over here…” He pointed and saw a large group move towards the left. “Beaters, Keepers, and Seekers…” and several people, including Joséphine, moved to form a group of Seekers. Ron frowned as he saw that the majority of the Seekers were female, and they were looking at Harry with too much interest, much to Harry’s chagrin. Ron also thought that there was an unnecessary and excessive amount of giggling from the girls as he spoke. These were Quidditch tryouts and very important. He noticed Lavender waving at him from the stands, he waved back, and quickly pulled back his hand when another 10 girls waved enthusiastically back at him. He noticed Hermione roll her eyes. What the hell was wrong with all of them?

“All right, now that everyone is separated…” Ron began trying to block out girls and their weird behaviour. A fifth year raised his hand.

“Yes?”

“Can I only try out for one position?”

“Erm, no… I guess not,” Ron said a bit hesitantly. “Just come forwards when I call each position,” he said and looked at the clipboard in his hands. Hermione had been gracious enough to help him put into words what he wanted to do to remind him, because he knew he would be beyond nervous.

“All right, we’ll start with the smallest group… Seekers, and we’ll start for those trying for the starting position,” Ron grinned when he saw Harry was the only one to move. It seemed that no one came to challenge his position; that is until Joséphine walked next to him. Everyone looked surprised, then they all held knowing smirks. Of course, Joséphine didn’t know about Harry’s Seeker abilities.

Harry’s eyes opened in surprise when he noticed Joséphine was clutching a Firebolt in her hands. Harry and Joséphine stepped towards the middle of the pitch, and mounted their identical brooms. Ron then noticed Joséphine’s Firebolt, and raised an eyebrow. He nodded to Katie, who released the Golden Snitch from its restraints in the crate. He waited a few seconds to let it disappear.

“Ok, we’ll do best two catches out of three,” Ron said and then blew his whistle.

Harry and Joséphine both kicked off with force, and they moved to opposite directions across the pitch, and they both flew very high to scan the ground. Harry turned to watch Joséphine who was scanning the grounds intently. He resumed his search for the golden ball, and out of the corner of his eye, he caught Joséphine speeding up towards a spot behind him. He heard the collective gasp of the crowd; with incredible skill, he whirled his Firebolt 180 degrees and sped towards her.

Harry now spotted the glint of gold racing ahead, with Joséphine closing on it at an alarming speed. Harry flattened himself against his broom and flew faster than ever. The fluttering ball as if sensing it was being chased, suddenly zoomed to the right. Joséphine changed course with ease, and Harry was after her a split second later. The Snitch went into a dive and both Harry and Joséphine followed. Harry was now flying next to Joséphine, both their hands outstretched, their fingers almost touching the ball and each other’s. They were doing an almost vertical dive, and the crowd gasped in horror. They were going to crash! Just as the Snitch seemed to be ready to hit the ground, Harry saw to his dismay as Joséphine jerked forward, her hands clasped around the Snitch, tiny wings fluttering through her fingers. Joséphine pulled on her broomstick hard, and pulled from the dive, barely missing the stands. Harry’s mind had stopped with disbelief, but he snapped and tried to pull his Firebolt at the last second, but it was too late. He managed to pull the broom up, but he was so low, and so close to the stands that he crashed straight through into them. There was an outcry from the crowd, both from shock of Joséphine’s catch, and fear at seeing Harry crash.

“Harry!” Ron, who had mounted his broom to get a better view of the two Seekers, flew straight towards Harry. Fred was running on the ground with several people behind him. Joséphine touched down gently onto the grass right in front of where Harry crashed and stepped in through the broken strands. She helped him to his feet.

“Are you all right?” she asked seeing him scratched and his glasses broken, lying askew across his face.

“Erm, yeah…” Harry replied with surprise. He hadn’t received anything worse than a few scratches.

“Mate! Are you okay?” Ron asked as he arrived.

“Yeah, I’m fine…” Harry said with disbelief and patted himself to re-assure himself that he hadn’t broken anything. Harry turned to Joséphine with something akin of awe.

“That was an excellent catch,” he said defeated.

“Zhank you, you fly well too,” Joséphine said impressed, and Harry thought with a hint of pride. “But we still ‘ave two more tries,” she said and grinned.

Ron was looking at Joséphine with disbelief. She flew just as well, or even better, than Harry. She had spotted the Snitch within five minutes of taking off, and had caught it. He had never seen anyone do anything like that besides Harry.

Professor McGonagall insisted on checking on Harry before letting him resume with the tryouts.

At Ron’s whistle, Harry and Joséphine kicked off from the ground again and circled the pitch. This time it was Harry who spotted the Snitch first, but to his dismay Joséphine was neck and neck with him within seconds. Harry pushed harder to gain the lead, and the Snitch, once again, sped off towards a different direction, both Seekers hot on its wake.

Harry felt the wings flutter against his outstretched fingers and, to his astonishment, the Snitch seemed to pause mid-air and shoot back in the direction it had come. Both Harry and Joséphine applied their brakes, flipped in mid air almost simultaneously and seemed to be mimicking each other moving in mirror-like ways, and sped back the way they came. Hermione and everyone else could not believe their eyes. Joséphine was like a shadow of Harry. They zoomed up and down the field, the Golden Snitch just barely in front of them, but always far enough to avoid capture.

It dived for the ground once more, both Seekers behind it. Harry’s hands clasped around the fluttering ball, and he tried to level out from the dive, and managed it almost falling off his broom. The crowd cheered loudly. Harry landed on the grass, and smiled at Joséphine as she was clapping enthusiastically, obviously impressed. Harry handed the Snitch to Ron, who released it.

The tension was palpable as now they were both tied, and they were both equally matched in skill. Ron knew that whoever didn’t get starting position was definitely going to be in the reserve team. He inwardly crossed his fingers that Harry would make the second catch. Harry and Joséphine stared at each other determined to make that catch. Ron blew his whistle, and both of them kicked off hard from the ground.

After a few tense minutes of watching Harry and Joséphine circle around the pitch, the crowd began to murmur excitedly when Joséphine spotted the Snitch at the same time Harry had. They rounded their brooms and raced after the fluttering of glinting light, and once again they were neck and neck flying as fast as their broom’s matched capacity would allow. Both had their hands outstretched, and Harry’s was almost on top of the Snitch, he could feel the wings tickling his fingertips. Just a bit more! They both heard a faint cry of warning, when out of nowhere a Bludger plunged into Harry’s right shoulder, completely unsettling him from his broom, and almost crashing into Joséphine as he was lifted off his broom. “AAaaargh!” Harry cried in surprise as he fell off his broom. His Firebolt, without a rider, spun off away as it sped towards the ground. Harry felt himself fall.

Time seemed to slow down for Joséphine as she watched Harry’s body separate itself from the broom and immediately begin to fall downward. Joséphine reacted on instinct. She crossed her ankles tightly under the broom handle, clutching it tight with her legs and let go of her hands as she spun herself to hang upside down, rotating with the broom. As she revolved in mid air, she swung her right arm, and she managed to wrap her hand on Harry’s left forearm as he passed. Harry instinctively clutched to her arm; her other hand, she wrapped around his left forearm as well, holding Harry by his arm. The weight of his body jerked Joséphine and her broom, pulling her down a few feet, but she retained her balance, and kept the broom from going into a dive with both of them. Harry swung freely under her.

“I ‘ave you,” Joséphine said and Harry looked up and locked his eyes with her bright blue eyes. She smiled reassuringly at him, and he smiled back. He didn’t know why, but he didn’t feel any fear, and felt perfectly safe within her grasp. Without her hands to guide the broom, the broom flew in a straight line. Fred, George, and Ginny had jumped on their brooms the moment the Bludger had somehow escaped its restraints and followed after it. Fred and George went to the Bludger, bats at the ready, as it made a circle after hitting Harry aiming for the next moving target. Ron and Ginny flew under Harry, and Ginny slowly rose allowing her broom to slip between Harry’s legs until he sat behind Ginny on her broom. Harry looked up to Joséphine as she let go of his arm once he was safely behind Ginny. Joséphine clasped her broom handle, righted herself up right, and then flew down towards the ground.

Hermione was advancing towards the group as they landed.
“Harry! Are you all right?” she asked as he dismounted.

“Yeah,” he said clutching his right shoulder where the Bludger hit him. McGonagall was inspecting the crate, trying to find out how the Bludger had got away. Fred and George were wrestling the Bludger, restraining it.

Ron was praising Joséphine, and Harry turned to her. “Thanks, you saved me from plummeting to the ground,” he said as he watched her with gratitude.

“You are welcome. Eet was nozhing,” she said and smiled at him.

“Whew, Harry… that was a close one,” Ron said with relief. “I was thinking for a second there that Joséphine was going to take your place,” he said and turned to her, “although I am not sure the team would have suffered one bit. Joséphine, I want you to be my reserve seeker!”

“I would like to try for Chaser first, before accepteen zhe reserve,” she said and Ron agreed.

“But we didn’t manage to catch the Snitch!” Harry voiced and the group laughed. He turned pink when he finally realized that the fluttering of wings amidst his fingers in his right hand was the Snitch; he hadn’t noticed he had caught it.

McGonagall explained to Ron that a Perkitrat had chewed through one of the leather straps that held the Bludger and it had snapped. He advised them to check the others to make sure there wasn’t a Perkitrat infestation in the locker room. She was also going to speak with Madam Hooch to check the crate with the Quidditch equipment used during the actual games. She also said there was no foul play involved and that they should resume with the tryouts.

Ron made notes on his chart as he watched the other reserve Seeker-wannabes. Then he called for people wanting to try for the Chasers position. Ginny did superbly, as well as Katie. Then there was a string of first and second years that barely managed to stay on their brooms when the Quaffle was passed to them. Berty Dunstan, Josephine and Logan Zavier from 7th year did pretty well, as well as Erika Basset from 5th year; Dean Thomas had also done really well. Ron narrowed the large group of Chasers to ten players. Ginny, Katie, and Joséphine were finally picked for the starting line-up, while Berty, Logan and Erika comprised the reserve.

The Beater tryouts didn’t take as long as the Chaser tryouts. The Beaters were sent up in groups of four and they were to send the Bludgers at each other, intercept the Bludgers aimed at them, and send them to others. As soon as one failed to intercept a Bludger twice, or if they were hit by a Bludger, they were eliminated and a new Beater would go up to join the remaining three.

The first four to go up were second year Euan Abercrombie, Colin and Dennis Creevey, and Jessica King from fourth year. Dennis was knocked out when he was unable to stop the Bludger from hitting him, although he had swung at it with all his might (which wasn’t much from the tiny kid). Seamus flew up to take his place and he knocked out Colin next. After the younger years were knocked out easily, the last four remaining were Fred, George, Seamus and Alice Longton from 7th year. It was obvious that Fred and George had teamed up against Seamus and Alice. Alice failed to deflect a Bludger and it hit her on the nose, spurting blood everywhere. Seamus wasn’t able to keep up against Fred and George for much longer after that. After receiving two Bludgers to the head, he was levitated to the Hospital Wing, and Fred and George were announced at the official Beaters. Seamus and Alice would be part of the reserve.

“Now, those of you trying out for Keepers for the starting line-up…” people burst out laughing at him and Ron blushed. He smiled embarrassed, “erm sorry, I mean, reserve Keepers, please come forward.”

Out of the 10 people trying out for Keepers, Natalie McDonald from third year was tied with Colin Creevey, and Margery Harper from 7th year at 4 goals saved out of five. Ron had them go a second time and Colin Creevey managed to save 3 out of 5, Natalie and Margery each saved 4 out of five. Ron tried one more time, with both Natalie and Margery tied again.

“All right, I have to pick one of you, and sorry Margery, but Natalie flew just a little bit better. Natalie, welcome to the reserve,” Ron said and felt his ears get hot as Margery shot him a disappointed glare. Natalie whooped and went to her friends who were cheering for her. All in all, Ron felt that he had done very well, and that this year they would have an excellent team. He just hoped that he himself wasn’t going to be the one below them.

As the crowd began to disperse and head back to the castle, Ron congregated his team and the reserve.

“Well done, everyone!” he said with a bit of an important, yet nervous voice. “We’ll start out with practice next Tuesday after the last class. We’ll see you then!” he said and everyone headed back to the common room. Harry and Hermione stayed behind to help Ron put away the school broomsticks they had borrowed to use for tryouts then headed to the Great Hall for lunch. It had been a long morning.

****
Three days later, Harry dragged himself into the bathroom very early in the morning. He splashed water on his face. He was so tired. He yawned and leaned against the sink. I should have gone to bed earlier last night, Harry thought. If it hadn’t been for that Potions essay he would have. It should be a crime to have to get up so early, he grumbled to himself as he stifled another yawn. As Harry lifted his face from the basin and looked up into the mirror, he jumped when he saw a man standing behind his reflection.

Harry.

“SIRIUS!” Harry whirled around to face his godfather, but the bathroom was empty. He turned around to look back into the mirror but there was nobody there. He breathed hard to try to calm himself down. That vision of his godfather had really scared him.

“I’m just tired,” he reassured himself and rubbed his eyes. He had had another nightmare about him last night anyway. As he went out of the bathroom, Ron, Neville and Seamus were dragging themselves in, grumbling.

“AAAARRGGH!!!” Someone screamed from the bathroom and Harry ran back to see what had happened.

“What the bloody hell is wrong with you!?” Ron was yelling at Seamus when Harry went in. “Are you trying to kill me!!!?” He shouted clutching his chest.

Neville looked pretty startled and freaked out too.

“THERE WAS A MAN IN THE SHOWER! I SWEAR!” Seamus said in self-defence.

“It… it… it…” Neville stammered.

“What? Who was it?” Harry asked.

Neville turned to look at Harry. “It was Sirius,” Neville said with disbelief.

“Are you bonkers? There was nobody in there,” Ron retorted and pointed to the shower for them to look.

Harry’s heart pace quickened. There was something going on here, it couldn’t be just a simple nightmare. “Are you sure, Neville?”

“I saw him,” Neville said with conviction.

“How can it be Sirius?” Ron tried to reason. He didn’t like being spooked and these guys all looked like they had seen a ghost, which wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary there at Hogwarts.

“Look, I don’t mean to be insensitive,” Ron began as he walked over to the shower… “but I was here and I didn’t see anyone there, look…” he said as he pulled back the curtain.

Harry.

“AAAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!” All four of them screamed and Ron jumped back into the three others, letting go of the curtain. The outline of a man was clearly visible behind it now.

Harry walked cautiously over to it. “Sirius?” He called as his trembling hand reached for the curtain and yanked it to the side, but the shower was again empty.

“What is going on here?” Dean asked running in.

Ron was shaking so hard, the others were stuttering too. Harry was staring at the shower with disbelief, and nobody paid attention to Dean.

“What are you all spooked about?” Dean asked again.

“We just saw the ghost of Sirius Black,” Neville said.

“Erm, ghosts are not that creepy,” Dean objected.

“He wasn’t a ghost, he looked worse than a ghost…” Ron began.

“Guys, look!” Seamus exclaimed, he had gone over to Harry’s side and had seen something on the floor of the shower.

There were two wet shoeprints in the spot where Sirius had been.

“Do you reckon he is trying to contact you from the dead?” Seamus said now that he was a bit calmer.

“The dead can’t come back and we all know he didn’t become a ghost,” Dean objected again and rolled his eyes.

Ron began to berate him for being insensitive, and Dean and Seamus began to argue about messages from the beyond. Harry was ignoring them and simply stared at the boot imprints on the floor. Slowly they began to disappear and then the trace was gone.

“Guys? GUYS?” Neville yelled to get their attention

The three bickering guys silenced immediately and turned to him.

“What if he’s not dead?”

Harry’s head snapped towards Neville. “What do you mean?” he asked walking over to Neville.

“I, well… nothing really, it’s just that after what happened last year I asked my Gran about that veil and she said that no one knew much about it, except that whoever passed through never comes back so they all assume it leads to death. So, I mean, if they don’t really know what happens, maybe the people that cross over aren’t dead, maybe they are just sent away somewhere else, to a different place…”

“Oh crap!” Dean interrupted.

“What?” Ron asked.

“We have 10 minutes to make it to class!” Dean exclaimed and the five of them scrambled to get out of there.

Harry couldn’t stop thinking about Neville’s words. He had never thought to question the veil, and what everyone knew about it. They all were convinced that people died when they went through but Harry had heard the voices. What if it was true, that it didn’t send people to their death but instead they were trapped somewhere. He needed to find out, and if that was the case, he needed to get Sirius out of there; especially since he was trying to contact him.

The five students ran to the Quidditch pitch and found their places, just as Donovan appeared at the front. They had barely made it.

“We have some fun things for you to do today,” he began after the register. “We will start as usual: ten laps to the pitch, then you will do your warm up routine, but today we have an obstacle course to tackle,” he motioned his wand and an assortment of things sprung unto the empty field. To those Muggle related it looked like a military boot camp obstacle course.

“Get started on those laps,” Donovan yelled and the group as one began to jog around.

Once they were finished, they had to perform crunches, push ups, jumping jacks, squats, and a few others things.

“Gather around to watch,” Donovan called them, and Professor De Valerio stood at the beginning of the course.

The guys stared at the professor as she took off her cloak, but this time the boys were disappointed to see her; she was not in her customary leather tight suit, instead she wore an outfit similar to theirs, except it was all black and it was skin tight. It hugged the curves of her body, so they were not as disappointed. The girls just glared at the professor, unobtrusively of course.

Donovan nodded and Professor De Valerio crouched to the ground. She lay flat onto her stomach, and began to crawl to make it under the first obstacle. The next obstacle was to jump and hold the edge of a wall and to shimmy to the other side, avoiding falling into a deep back hole at the bottom. She let go and fell in, and with a pop appeared at the beginning.

“If you fail to finish an obstacle, you will have to do it all over again,” Donovan explained.

Professor de Valerio walked to the third obstacle, climbed the ladder up a tall pole, with a little landing at the top, and jumped to grab hold of a rope, crossing her legs onto it. She travelled the rope to the other side and had to jump from the landing onto another platform. From there, she had to climb a rock wall then from the top, she had to dive onto a pool of water, swim under the water to the other side. She stepped out of the pool, ran to a wall, and jumped to scale it and get to the other side. There were a few more obstacles to do, and the last obstacle was to climb up a rope, then slide down a toboggan to the end.

They were sent in pairs, one after the other. Needless to say, the first day of the obstacle was a fiasco. Not a single student was able to finish the course, many paralyzed for fear of heights, lack of strength to hold on, stamina to endure, and many other things. To top it all, Donovan had announced that on October 1st, two weeks from now, they would be taking a test, perfect score only for those who finished the course successfully in one shot. Hermione had done fairly well out of all the girls, managing to make every obstacle until she got out of the pool and was unable to scale the wall. Most boys made it past this point.

On their way back to Gryffindor, Ginny spotted Professor Lupin. “Hey, Harry… listen… I’m going to ask Professor Lupin for, you know… the favour,” she said then leaned closed to Harry, “meet me before dinner without Hermione…” Ginny whispered to him in his ear. Harry smiled at her and nodded. She smiled, gave Dean a quick kiss and hurried along.

“What was that all about?” Dean asked Harry narrowing his eyes at him.

Harry gave Dean a pained look.

“Oh, that! All right.” Dean said and smiled relieved. Hermione glanced between the two, but Harry simply smiled and raced ahead. He said he had something to do. Hermione had the feeling that there was something going on between Ginny and Harry, and she frowned. Was it just her, or were her classmates acting weirdly today? Neville grinned at Hermione, and Parvati and Lavender were whispering.


Chapter 23: Where the Shadows Lie...
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Chapter 23

Where the Shadows lie…


Hermione brushed away the poking sensation on her nose. It went away for a while, but it started again. She opened her eyes and saw a parchment aeroplane that was flying above her; it dived towards her and poked her gently on the nose.

“What…?” Hermione sat up sleepily, and snatched the paper aeroplane out of the air. She blinked a couple of times and rubbed her eyes, then reached for her wand.

“Lumos,” she called bringing some light to the tip of her wand, illuminating the dark dormitory. She took a peek at her alarm clock and noticed that it said 11:58 pm.

Barely awake, Hermione unfolded the paper plane and tried to read it; it looked like Ron’s writing but it seemed to have been scribbled in a hurry.

HERMIONE, HELP! IT’S HARRY!

Hermione’s heart beat fast and jolted her awake. She didn’t waste a second and jumped from her bed. She forgot to put a dressing gown on, and tore out of the bedroom in her flannel, pink and lavender pyjama pants, and light pink tank top; she even forgot her slippers. She ran with her wand in her hand, hair flying in all directions. Hermione raced down the steps and came out into the common room.

“HERMIONE!” Ron called and Hermione saw Harry sprawled on the floor. There was a pool of blood under his face and Ron was hovering over him looking helpless.

“Harry! What happened?” Hermione asked as she knelt next to Harry.

“He said he had to go somewhere, and when he didn’t return I came down to look for him and found him like this…”

Hermione was turning Harry over. “Why didn’t you call Professor McGonag…”
She stopped as she saw Harry grinning at her, his nose bleeding profusely.

Suddenly the lights in the room brightened and there was a chorus of “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!” that made Hermione jump. Harry inserted a piece of something purple into his mouth and the nose bleed stopped, and he was grinning at her. He cleaned his blood off both him and the floor with a wave of his wand.

Hermione looked shocked, and then glared at Harry. He had taken one of those dratted nose-bleeding nougats from Fred and George. She punched him hard on the arm.

“Ow!”

“THAT’S FOR SCARING ME!” she screamed, but then she smiled. “But thanks for the surprise!” She was delighted now that she knew it was only a joke. She saw Fred and George levitating a large pile of presents, while Ginny was levitating a large cake that she had asked her mum to make for her. Ginny had asked a favour from Professor Lupin, and Remus picked it up and gave the cake to Ginny last night. Hermione noticed that the common room was decorated and a large banner hung from above the fireplace. It would flash between ‘Happy Birthday, Hermione’ and ‘Congrats on Becoming of Age!’ Hermione had turned 17 today.

Lavender came up behind Hermione and placed a silly pointed hat on her head that said ‘Birthday Girl’. Parvati dropped Hermione’s slippers for her. “Thanks,” Hermione said noticing now the cold of the stone flooring under her feet.
Everyone was in their pyjamas.

“Come on! Open presents…” Ginny called and Hermione sat in her favourite place in front of the fire; Harry and Ron sat on either side of her. She looked around and saw Harry, Ron, Fred, George, Lavender, Parvati, Neville, Dean, Seamus and Colin Creevey (Ginny had asked him if he could take pictures). They were all seated around her. Colin was snapping pictures every few seconds.

“Here, this is from Mum,” Ginny said as she yawned and handed a package to Hermione. Hermione tore it open and it contained a multitude of homemade baked goods and sweets. There was a new red and gold knit scarf, with the Gryffindor crest embroidered on it, a pair of knitted gloves, and a note saying that these items were charmed to keep her temperature constant when outside in the cold. (The Charms were her gift from Remus). The gloves were also waterproofed. Fred and George gave Hermione a box of items from Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes and the latest LP from The Weird Sisters. Ginny gave Hermione a new quill made from the feather of a Griffin, and a bottle of messaging ink. She could write a message on any surface and think of a person to whom she wanted to send the message, and the message would appear written in the palm of the person’s hand. The person had to be within a short distance for the charm to work.

Neville gave Hermione a pot with a single-stem Weather Forecasting Rose. The rose would tell its owner the forecast for the day every morning when they woke up, and up to three days ahead. Hermione loved it since it was a yellow rose, her favourite.

“I love yellow roses!” She beamed at Neville and he blushed, feeling pleased that she liked it. The rose even reminded the owner when water was needed, or if a pest or anything else was afflicting it. Lavender gave her a box of chocolates and a couple of bottles of Long Lasting Sleekeaze shampoo and conditioner. Hermione had tried hers and liked it. Because of the DA, the three sixth year Gryffindor girls had grown closer, and also Lavender had flying classes with Hermione. Parvati of course, came with Lavender.

Parvati gave Hermione a Magic Instant Manicure Set. All Hermione had to do was pick a colour, press the button on the little box, and stick each finger in the hole, and her nails would be done. Hermione thanked Parvati for it, although inwardly she was rolling her eyes. Parvati had been on her case to do manicures and pedicures together, but Hermione wasn’t really interested. Dean gave Hermione some Muggle sweets and a book on Ancient Runes written by a Muggle, while Seamus gave Hermione a supply of Sugar Quills. Colin handed Hermione a framed picture he had taken of Ron, Harry and her at the Halloween feast a few years ago. The picture frame was lined with little books that actually opened. Inside each little book were tiny pictures of her, Ron, or Harry, or the three of them. Hermione loved it.

Harry handed Hermione a little black velvet covered box. Lavender’s and Parvati’s eyes widened in excitement, and Ginny’s smile seemed to falter a little. Ron frowned somewhat, and Fred and George exchanged a curious glance.

Hermione looked surprised. She opened the box and smiled. It was a Muggle ‘charm’ bracelet. “Harry, it’s beautiful!”

“What is it?” Lavender asked unable to conceal her curiosity. Hermione pulled out the bracelet.

“It’s a ‘Charm’ bracelet.”

“Oooh, what kind of charms does it do?” Parvati asked excitedly. Hermione, Harry, Colin, Seamus and Dean laughed.

“It doesn’t do anything.”

The others looked perplexed. “It’s what Muggles call ‘charm’ bracelets. See these little items? Muggles call them ‘charms’, but they don’t do anything.”

“Yeah, I saw it at a store when I was buying a new pair of jeans over the summer, and found them amusing,” Harry explained, “and this one had four charms in the shape of a book, a dictionary, an encyclopaedia, and a diary so I thought of you. I also thought you’d get the joke, so it would be a perfect birthday present.” Harry grinned.

“How did you get a charm of the crest of Gryffindor and one of Hogwarts?” Hermione asked looking at the little charms on the bracelet.

“Oh, I asked Professor McGonagall for a favour the other day. She transfigured some of them for me,” he answered.

Parvati, Lavender and Ginny pushed Ron and Harry out of the way so they could look at the bracelet with Hermione.

“Oh look! There’s a parchment roll!” Ginny said pointing.

“And a quill!” Lavender squealed.

“Oh Harry, you have Crookshanks here!” Hermione said looking at an orange ginger cat.

“And look at this little black owl,” Parvati pointed.

“Yeah, that’s Devieta,” Harry said happy that Hermione really liked it. “There’s some extra ones in the box, too, that came with it,” Harry added and George snatched the box to look at them

“There’s a wand!” Ginny pointed.

“Look, there’s one that looks like Professor Snape!” Fred said looking through the extra ones that came in the box and picking one out.

They all looked at him, and Harry wondered if it had been Professor McGonagall’s idea of a joke.

“Oh, never mind… it’s just a crooked jalapeño pepper, I thought it was his nose.” They all burst out laughing.

“Thanks, Harry. It’s lovely,” Hermione said putting it on her wrist, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She shook it to hear the jingle of the charms.

Ron now approached Hermione, but he felt that his gift wasn’t as pretty as Harry’s. He also handed her a little box, but it wasn’t a jewellery box. Hermione opened the box. There was a pair of what looked like angel wings attached to a little box clip.

“What are these?” she asked, sounding intrigued. Ron pulled out a book and took the wings from her. He clipped the wings to the spine of the book and dropped it. The wings began to flutter and the book hovered in the air.

“It’s a Book Angel, it’s to help you read and hold the book when you can’t. It’ll turn the page too, and bookmark it. Watch… Page 39,” Ron said and two tiny hands emerged from the clip box, opened the book and flipped the pages to page 39. Ron closed the book and one of the hands remained inside to keep the page. “You can also set it to hover at the same distance from your face, and…” Ron touched the little wings on the top with his wand. A little glass ball extended attached with a thin arm, and it glowed… “It’s got a reading light.”

“Oh Ron! That is really thoughtful of you. Thanks! I really love it,” she grinned at him and planted a kiss on his cheek too and hugged him. Ron blushed furiously, and mumbled.

“You’re welcome,” he said, pleased. He had sold some of his most rare chocolate frog cards to be able to afford the gift. He had also helped the twins in the shop during the summer earning a few Galleons, but he would buy Christmas presents with those.

At that moment, the fireplace burst with green flames and a head appeared wearing a night cap.

“Professor Dumbledore!” The group stood up alarmed.

“Oh, sorry to startle you, but I heard the rumour that there was a birthday party going on and that Mrs Weasley’s famous cake was being served,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes. The students relaxed, except for Colin who was awed that the headmaster had shown up for Hermione’s birthday bash.

Ginny fitted the cake with 17 candles and lit them. The group sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Hermione, with the headmaster’s head floating in the fire and singing along. George had made up his own words and made some of them burst out laughing. Hermione knelt in front of the table and leaned over to blow out the candles. The moment the candles were out, they sprayed Hermione’s face with sugar frosting. Everyone laughed, including Hermione.

“Fred!” Ginny scolded, doing such a perfect imitation of Mrs Weasley that Fred looked around to see if she had appeared.

“Brand new at our joke shop,” George said with a bow.

Ginny sliced the cake, while Hermione cleaned her face, and served a piece to Hermione, then the rest. Ginny handed a piece of cake over the fire to Professor Dumbledore.

“What is going on here?” Professor McGonagall entered the common room wearing her dressing gown and night cap.

“Ah, Minerva! Just in time for some of Molly’s fabulous cake,” Professor Dumbledore said, startling the old witch.

“Albus?”

“I heard the rumour that there was a surprise party for Miss Granger, and that Molly had baked a cake. Why don’t you grab a piece and come to my office, there’s something I’d like to ask you,” Dumbledore said and smiled, his eyes twinkling, and he winked at the group. There was a sound like the knock on a door coming from Dumbledore’s office. He turned and said a few words to someone who had arrived.

“Oh, all right…” McGonagall said, feeling a bit thrown off balance; she turned to the group, “but once you are all done with your cake, you will head to bed. You have class at 6am,” she reminded them as she took a piece of cake handed over by Ginny.

“Yes, Professor.”

“Goodnight everyone, and thank you for the cake… oh, Hermione… would you mind sharing some of your birthday cake with Professors Lupin, Hagrid, and Snape?” Dumbledore asked and looked once again back into his office. Someone had said something. “A little sugar will not hurt you, Severus.” Dumbledore turned back to face the Gryffindors. Fred and George were sniggering.

“Not at all, Professor,” Hermione said to him and wondered what they were all doing in his office. He was probably conducting Order business.

“Thank you,” Professor Dumbledore said and took the three extra pieces that Ginny gave him. He complemented her excellent skills with the carving spells. (“Thanks, Mum’s really good at them.”)

Dumbledore’s head disappeared from the fire, and then Professor McGonagall stepped through the fire after him. Before the flames died out, Dumbledore’s head re-appeared.

“I almost forgot, this is for you,” he said and a letter flew out of the fire into Hermione’s hand.

“Thank you, Professor,”

Dumbledore nodded and his head disappeared then the green flames died down.

“What is it?”

Hermione read the letter.

“It’s just my letter granting me permission to leave Hogwarts for Apparition Lessons during the weekends. The first round of lessons starts this weekend! It says that this year the lessons will be offered at the Ministry of Magic,” she said excitedly.

“I can’t wait to turn seventeen and take that test,” Parvati said excitedly. Her birthday wasn’t until December, so she had to wait for Apparating lessons that started after the Christmas holidays.

“Easy for you to say!” Lavender exclaimed, annoyed. She, like Hermione, hadn’t achieved an OWL in flying and was stuck taking flying lessons until she obtained an Acceptable in that particular subject. Also, Lavender’s birthday wasn’t until April.

“Well, we better get back to bed. Defence Against the Dark Arts is going to be torture on three hours of sleep,” Hermione said standing up. “Good night everyone, and thank you for the surprise.”

“Good night Hermione, and happy birthday!”

****

A week and three days had passed since they had first gone through the obstacle course, and Hermione was hysterical. The Defence Against the Dark Arts obstacle course test was the next Tuesday, and very few had finished the course, including Hermione. The last rope still gave her problem, and though she managed to get halfway up, she never was able to hold long enough to make it to the top.

“What am I going to do?” She was nervously biting her nails in her room. Parvati and Lavender were trying to console her.

“You’ll do just fine,” Parvati encouraged. “You manage to make it a lot farther than either of us!”

“We better head over to Divination,” Lavender said looking at the clock. “You’re sure you’re ok?”

“Yes,” Hermione replied. “I’m fine; it’s just been a bad week. I will see you later. Go, don’t be late on my account,” she encouraged them and sat back on her bed.

“All right. I’ll see you in Flying,” Lavender said to Hermione, and she nodded.

Hermione had that period free before she would have to go to Flying. She was dreading the next week already, and it was a Hogsmeade weekend too! She remained quiet in her bed, just thinking all sorts of things.

Hermione had thought that she was alone in the room and was startled when Johana Moon crawled from under her bed and got up. It always made Hermione feel uncomfortable when she did that. Johana never used her bed; instead, she always was crawling under it to go to sleep. Her bed was piled high with rubbish, clothes, books, and all sorts of stuff. Anything that should have been stored in her cabinets and trunk was all over her side of the bed, and none of it put away. For five years Hermione had ignored this girl who seemed to be everything Hermione wasn’t. But today, Hermione couldn’t help but stare at the girl. She had shaved her hair off, and was completely bald!

It was apparent to Hermione that Johana thought she was alone, as she began to strip of her clothes to change. Hermione couldn’t help but watch her. Almost everyone by now changed with the flick of their wand, but Johana opted instead to remove the clothing herself. She was giving her back to Hermione and Hermione’s eyes widened as she saw the tattoo covering the back of the girl. It was a magnificent rendition of a Hungarian Horntail, complete in every detail. The head resting on her right shoulder blade, with the body curving around her back with the end finishing on her buttocks as the tail ran down around the side of her right hip, wrapping around her leg to mid-thigh. The dragon moved its head to look at Hermione, and blew out a plume of fire; not real fire but swirl shapes that gave the impression of fire.

Hermione thought she better let her know she was not alone, and cleared her throat as she reached to her bedside cabinet to get a book.

Johana simply turned her head to take a look at Hermione, but continued to pull down her panties. She tossed them to a laundry pile, and pulled a pair of clean ones from the pile on the bed.

Ok, so she knew I was here. Hermione tried ignoring her.

Johana pulled a pair of jeans on, and a white tank top, then put her school robe over them. She turned, and left the bedroom.

Harry was at the bottom of the steps to the girls’ dormitory folding a parchment into a paper aeroplane when Johana came down the steps. Harry looked at her for a moment and didn’t recognize her.

“Wow, Johana… what did you do to your hair?” Harry asked and the girl looked at him.

“Are you blind?” she replied, annoyed.

“No. Just making sure you didn’t confuse your shaving potion with your shampoo,” he retorted as he tapped his wand to the parchment to send to Hermione. He needed to speak with her.

“Like I give a f***, Potter,” she replied sourly.

Harry didn’t seem fazed by her attitude. She was his partner for DADA training in the mornings and had been so for three weeks now. He had thought initially that she was a complete bitch, but now he found he was impervious to it. After the initial shock of her foul mouth and bad temper, he had become accustomed. She was really odd, didn’t care what anybody thought, and believed she didn’t need to She walked away and then out of the hole behind the portrait, ignoring the aghast looks she received from girls, and the stares from the boys. Harry watched her go, wondering where the hell she disappeared to all the time, shaking his head. Just then Hermione came down the steps and greeted Harry.

“Did you have a chance to find out about the veil?” Harry asked as she made it to the bottom step.

“I’m not sure, I think… let’s go get your book. I’ll need that,” she said and the two of them raced up the steps to the boys’ room. They hopped onto Harry’s bed and closed the curtains. Hermione cast a silencing charm on them, then flipped open Harry’s book.

“I’ve looked everywhere for information on the veil, but there is nothing! Everything has been classified by the Department of Mysteries and not even this book can access it. I did find this though,” she pulled out a picture from her robes of an old edition of the Prophet.

“I found it in the archives. It was taken when the Death Eaters that killed the Fontaine sisters were sentenced to death by the veil, and the last time it was used. I thought I could see symbols inscribed on the arc, but they look like scratches on the stone. I can only make out a few, not all of them. I thought I’d try and copy them onto the book and see what happens. They don’t match any known writing either Muggle or magical that I could find in books, but I am sure I have seen it before,” she said as she began to write on the empty page, drawing the scrawling from the archway.

They waited for a while as the book displayed that it was searching. After a moment, one entry returned. It seemed very familiar to both Harry and Hermione.

“I’ve seen that somewhere,” Hermione said as she tapped it.

‘…One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them… in Mordor where the shadows lie.’

Hermione read the inscription and her eyes opened wide. “That’s from Lord of the Rings!” she said as she began to read what turned out to be an article criticizing the madness of the claims made by J.R.R. Tolkien about the tale of the history of the world, before Muggles and magic were separated.

“What does that have to do with the veil?” Harry asked. He had so far read the first book and the Hobbit, and he had found it fascinating, but why would the reference book pull anything to do with this tale in relation to that veil.

Hermione backed out of the article so now they could see the entry returned by the book. “I knew I recognised these inscriptions. That’s what is written on The One Ring of Power from Tolkien’s stories. It’s written with Tengwar, the Elven alphabet, although I think the original inscription was written in the language of Mordor… look at these symbols here on this picture, they are the only ones the veil inscription and this one have in common in that same order,” she said as she copied down on a piece of parchment the words of the ring.

She spent a few minutes researching anything she could on the script based on Tolkien’s books. Harry watched with interest.

“Shadows!” she exclaimed.

“What?”

“Shadows, that’s the word they both have in common. I have to go to Flying now, but I’ll continue this afterwards. I am sure now that this is Elven script according to Tolkien, which is not recognised as a true language by Wizards. I’ll have to owl Mum to send me all I have about Tolkien and the languages he translated and see if I can come up with anything else.”

“All right, I’ll see you at dinner then,” he said and Hermione left to get her stuff.

Harry began to put away his book and the ink and quill, when he accidentally dropped the ink bottle and it stained his robes. He was supposed to be meeting Ron now and he didn’t have time to clean the robes. He switched to clean robes and went down to Room of Requirement to meet Ron.

“I thought you forgot,” Ron said worried as he saw Harry enter the room.

“I was with Hermione looking for information about the veil. I didn’t forget,” Harry reassured him, and closed the door. The room had changed to include a life-size Quidditch pitch. Ron wanted to practice guarding the goal posts, but didn’t want to do it in public and they had wondered if the Room of Requirement would accommodate them for this purpose. It did, and it was perfect. Ron could practice without anyone seeing him and making him nervous.

Harry returned from practice utterly exhausted. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was starving, Harry would have skipped dinner and gone straight to bed. He took a shower, dressed, and was about to put on his robes when he noticed the ink stain on them. He didn’t want to clean them yet, so instead he dug in his trunk for another spare. He put on the robes and frowned when he felt his pocket. He stuck his hand inside the pocket, and he remembered then the diary he had found in his grandmother’s vault. He gently pulled out the diary he had in his robe pocket and placed it in his trunk. He was going to read it tonight.

“Ready, mate?” Ron asked and the pair went to join Hermione to go down to dinner.

As they sat at the table, Ginny came in to join them.

“Have any of you seen Bianca?” she asked the group.

“No, we haven’t. Why?” Hermione asked.

“Well, I had promised to help her with a Potions assignment. She was supposed to meet me after lunch, but I haven’t been able to find her all afternoon. No one else has seen her,” she replied as she sat down.

“Have you checked Slytherin? Maybe she was finally moved where she belongs?” Ron replied.

Ginny ignored him after glaring at him.

“I saw her just before lunch. She was leaving the Charms classroom back to Gryffindor. There were some second years from Gryffindor teasing her,” Fred replied as he began to fill his plate.

“And you didn’t do anything about it?!” Ginny demanded.

“Hey, I’m not a Prefect. That ain’t my job,” Fred replied annoyed.

“Only because she’s a Malfoy! I’ve seen you defend other Gryffindors!” Ginny exclaimed, irritated.

“Why are you so defensive of her?” Ron demanded. “After all the insults her brother, and not to mention her parents, hurl at us? She’s just going to grow up to be a little Death Eater like the rest of her family anyway,” Ron argued vehemently.

“How would you know? I’ve spent some time with her and she is actually a very nice girl. A bit timid and a pushover maybe, but she’s not like her brother.” Ginny was getting worked up. Ron could be a real prat sometimes. He was as stubborn as a Muggle mule too.

“I’ve lost my appetite. I’m going to look for her,” Ginny said and stood up, leaving the table.

Hermione and Ron began to fight about Ron’s insensitiveness, and Harry groaned. He ate what was on his plate as quick as possible, and left; his mind was on that diary. He hurried up to his room and pulled out the diary from his trunk. He made himself comfortable in his bed and he opened the diary to the first page. He wondered what had happened to it since it was burned and very tattered. He turned the page and the first entry read:

12th October 1962

Alex,

I have searched for you and I returned empty-handed in my quest to find you, until today when I found out that you are dead. I have no way of telling you now, but the truth that I have kept hidden in my heart can not accompany me to the grave, and I wish that there was an owl capable of finding you in death. I will never know why you decided to leave me, why you chose to never return to me, but you need to know that you left a part of you with me. Soon after that night after you disappeared, I found myself pregnant with your child, but now you will never know...

I named her after the beautiful flowers you always gave me...

…I don’t know if you came back looking for me, and found me again with Rick, and because of it you chose to never let me know where you were. I need you to understand that I had nowhere to go, and Rick was there for me. He has been a father to Lily, although he doesn’t know yet, but I think deep inside he must suspect. He can always see in me the way I look at Lily longingly, and I know that his heart is able to feel what he can not see. I see a part of you in her vividly green eyes that are so like yours. I don’t know why I am writing this, but the news of your death has compelled me to confess my secret, even if only in a letter, and only to you. I’ve never stopped loving you. I will forever...

Ell…



Chapter 24: Confessions of a Tattered Diary
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Chapter 24

Confessions of a Tattered Diary


Harry stared at the page, stunned. His mind was reeling for a moment. Rick Evans wasn’t his grandfather!? He tried to recall everything he knew about his grandparents. He had been told all his life that his grandfather, Rick Evans, had died when Lily was about 12. His grandmother, he was told by his aunt, had died just days before his parents’ “car” accident. But now it turned out that Lily’s father was this Alex… the thought paused in Harry’s head.

“The vault was left to Alex Nightley upon Ellen Schellden’s death!” Harry exclaimed aloud, pieces of the puzzle were making a little sense. What didn’t make sense was that if Ellen lived as a Muggle, how did she meet a wizard, and if Rick was Petunia’s father, and Petunia was older than his mother, then how did Ellen come to have a child from Alex? What had happened?

Harry closed the book and shoved it into his pocket. He wanted answers to so many questions… but who could answer them? This all seemed to get messier the more he thought about it. He wanted to speak with Anastasia Schellden. After all, she was Ellen’s mother and Harry hadn’t had an opportunity to speak with her during his stay at Grimmauld place after he found her in that vault. Thinking about the vault made him remember that Professor Donovan had been involved. Did he say something about Alex when they spoke at the Leaky Cauldron? Maybe he ought to ask him as well. Now Harry wondered what Dumbledore knew about all of this.

Harry reached for his invisibility cloak and the Marauders’ map, just in case he stayed out past curfew. He raced down the steps and ignored the calls from Ron asking where he was going. He reached the headmaster’s office and entered using his password. He went up the spiraling moving staircase, and knocked on the door. He heard the voice of the headmaster. “Come in.”

“Ah, Harry, how can I help you?” Dumbledore asked setting down his quill, and closing a book he was writing in.

“I wanted to speak with you about my grandmother Ellen, and about what you knew of my grandparents,” Harry said as he stood in front of the headmaster.

“I must tell you that I personally didn’t know much about your grandparents, except what I learned from Lily herself. I did have a chance to speak with Mrs Schellden’s portrait, and I have done a little looking into it myself. I was hoping to learn more so I could shed some light to this mystery about your mother’s side of the family,” Dumbledore invited the youth to sit down.

“I actually came for the same reason. I have some questions I’d like to ask my great-grandmother. Do you think Headmaster Nigellus would be willing to bring her here?” Harry said sat down.

“Certainly. I would like to ask more questions also. I can share with you all that I have been able to find out as well,” Dumbledore said and turned to look at Phineas’s portrait. It was empty. Dumbledore’s eyes sparkled. “If you just wait for one moment, I will go to Grimmauld Place and contact Mrs Schellden. Phineas has been spending quite a bit of time at his other portrait, dare I say,” Dumbledore said as he threw a pinch of Floo powder into the fireplace. “12 Grimmauld Place,” he called and he stepped through.

The house was empty at that moment, so Dumbledore went straight upstairs to the drawing room. There was an awful amount of giggling coming from the portrait although there was nobody in it, and Albus could hear Nigellus’ low voice speaking from somewhere in the portrait as well.

“Oh… you Devil!” Mrs Schellden exclaimed.

Dumbledore cleared his throat, and held his composure as Phineas’s dishevelled head appeared behind the couch of Mrs Schellden’s portrait.

“Albus!” Phineas exclaimed as he stood up abruptly. His robes were undone to mid chest. Anastasia looked up from behind the couch as well, and blushed furiously.

“I am sorry to interrupt. I was not expecting… well… I just came to see if Mrs Schellden would have a moment and come to Hogwarts for a short visit. Harry is in my office right now and has some questions about Marie, and he was hoping that you would provide some help,” he said directing his twinkling eyes full of amusement onto Anastasia.

“Oh, of course! Please tell Harry that I will be there momentarily,” she said as she smiled, and blushed again.

“Phineas, would you be so kind and escort Mrs Schellden to my office?” Dumbledore asked.

“Yes, I shall do so,” Phineas responded as he clumsily tried to straighten his robes.

“Very well. I shall see you shortly,” Dumbledore replied and headed back down to the fireplace.

Back at the office, Harry pulled out the diary to read a little bit more while he waited for the headmaster to return.

July 30th 1967

Alex,

I know this is stupid, but I have no other way of talking to you. I always believed that you are here with me, and that somehow you can read what I write.
Today Lily used magic, and I fear that Rick will notice her strangeness and will begin to ask questions. I have never told anyone about my family, my past, but I am certain now that unlike me, Lily will not be a Squib, and I think is it because of you. I know you never told me, but I am sure you were a wizard. I found your wand once, but I never said anything, since I never told you anything. Lily will most likely receive a letter from school when she turns 11 and I am not sure how I will be able to explain things to Rick. I just wish you were alive so you could see her grow too… I wonder if Alice will get a letter too? She’s never shown a sign of magic…


The rest of the page was torn. Harry turned another page. He read more notes about Lily as she grew up, but several pages were missing, or torn, or burned. He could only get glimpses of Lily’s life through his grandmother’s notes, and it seemed that she had written this diary for Alex, as a way of speaking to him about their daughter.

May 15 1969

… when I inquired about her I received word that my mother has died. I can not go to the funeral of my own mother, and is much more than I can bear. How I wish my father would let me say goodbye to her. He still refuses to acknowledge I exist, and will have nothing to do with me or my daughters…


July 30th, 1971

She just received a letter from Hogwarts today, and Lily is thrilled. Alice tried to convince Lily not to go. Three years ago Alice received a letter too, and I was stunned then, for I never thought Alice had any magical ability, and was like me - a Squib. She did go to Hogwarts for a while, but returned home before her first year ended and decided not to return, for what reason, I will never know. She said she wanted nothing to do with magic, but I am sure she kept her wand. Now Alice does not want Lily to go, but Lily said she will at least try it. I guess I will find out if magic suits Lily or not.

… Rick has been so supportive of her. I was so afraid for so many years that once he learned the truth he would walk away. I finally confessed the day Alice got her letter. You would not believe his reaction! He was fascinated. He was a little disappointed when Petunia refused to go to Hogwarts and do any magic, but we never questioned her. Now Rick is like a little kid. You should have seen him and Lily when she came back for Christmas break. My Lily is so talented!

… She brought some of Bott’s beans… I haven’t had any for years… I was lucky and got a strawberry flavoured one…


…1973

I wish you were here to comfort me. Late last night I received a phone call from the hospital. Rick was in an accident on his way home from work and he is in really bad shape. The doctors don’t think he will make it through the night, not even the Mediwitch that Professor Dumbledore sent thought there was much that could be done for him in St. Mungo’s…

… it was so hard to lose Rick. Now I am all alone without him, and without you. But this was so hard on Alice and Lily…


Harry snapped the diary closed when the flames in the fireplace burst green and Dumbledore stepped out. Dumbledore used a quick spell to clean the ashes from his robes.

“Mrs Schellden will be here shortly, ah here they are,” Dumbledore said pleased as he noticed Phineas appear in his portrait with Anastasia.

“Harry dear, how nice to see you again. How is school going?” she asked as soon as she saw him.

“It’s great so far,” Harry said grinning at her. It was a bit of comfort to him to have some relative to speak with, even if she was only a portrait.

“Harry, I think that we should start on hearing Anastasia’s story, then after that we can work on whatever questions you have. But let’s not forget that Mrs Schellden is only a portrait. There might be some things she does not know,” Albus reminded Harry. Harry nodded.

“Please, Professor, call me Ana,” the portrait lady encouraged him.

“As you wish Ana, and I would ask you refer to me by my given name, Albus. After all, it has been over 70 years since I last taught you,” Dumbledore chuckled.
Harry looked surprised; this was something he hadn’t known.

“Let’s start from the beginning,” Dumbledore added.

Ana nodded. “Well, as you know, Professor, I am the daughter of Augustus and Marietta DeVarak, I was born in 1905 and I attended Hogwarts from 1916 to 1923. Charles Schellden proposed soon after I left Hogwarts and I married him. I had three boys and Charles was very happy. We decided not to have any more children, but I became pregnant again in 1940 and gave birth to a girl. I don’t know what happened, but Charles was not happy that we had another child or a girl at that. Our marriage became very difficult and at that time I would not accept the belief that Charles hated his own daughter,” Ana paused and sighed.

She smiled as she remembered. “I named my little girl Marie Ellen,” and now she scowled, “but I had to beg Charles to give her his name. Soon after Ellen was born, Charles informed me that the Potters had agreed that their son, Harry, was to marry Ellen at the age of 17.” It was easy to tell that Ellen had not readily agreed to this. Her expression softened.

“Despite the ill treatment from Charles and two of her brothers, Ellen grew up loved by me and her brother Jeremy. Charles was very strict and never let her out of the estate, but she was happy. The staff loved her, even the house elves… but things would take a turn for the worse after her 11th birthday and the problems started. To Charles embarrassment, Ellen had turned out to be a Squib and was not sent a letter from Hogwarts. This was great cause for shame to him, and it only made Ellen’s life more difficult. She had to stay home and was forced to learn magic, but to no avail. Charles somehow convinced the Potters to agree to marry Ellen with Harry, despite her lack of magic ability. Harry went on to Hogwarts, and we didn’t see him again. When Charles told Ellen about the arrangement of her wedding, she refused and she ran away from home the night she was supposed to meet Harry again when he left Hogwarts,” the portrait lady had to pause.

She tried to remember all that her real self had told her all those years ago. Portraits were merely an imprint of the person they used to be, and often repeated catch phrases the real person was known to say. But Mrs Schellden’s portrait knew more than many portraits usually did, thanks to numerous recording charms done onto her.

“Lets see… I was devastated when she left, and Charles then disowned my Ellen. Instead of letting anyone know that she was a Squib and had ran away, Charles faked my daughter’s death, even had a funeral and there is an empty grave with her name in our family graveyard. The Potters were sad that their son’s fiancé had passed away, and Harry was a very pleasant young man. I wanted so many times to tell him the truth for he kept in touch with our family. Many years later, Harry married Eloise Grant and that was the last time I saw him. I tried hard to find my daughter behind my husband’s back, but I never did get any leads. She had disappeared, and was gone completely. I never heard anything more about Ellen before this portrait was made, and I don’t know if my person did learn anything after either. If she did, she never told me or any of my other portraits. I know I passed away in 1969, and to the shock of my husband,” Mrs Schellden said with a smirk, “I had left all of my fortune to Marie Ellen Schellden and to my son Jeremy, for he was the only one that had loved my Ellen dearly, and not one single Sickle would go to Charles or my other sons. Charles took everything that had belonged to me and locked it away in a vault. All of my portraits that my sons had were destroyed. Only Jeremy kept his and one other, so I spent most of my time as a portrait in his house.” Ana stood up and paced as she spoke.

“It wasn’t until 1980, when my husband was killed, that I learned more about what had happened to Ellen. My son Jeremy came home after the funeral and told me that he had recognised her at the funeral and he had followed her. When she appeared to the private meeting to claim her inheritance the next day, he met her there. I had begged him to bring her and he did. We all cried at being reunited and we talked for hours, and Ellen told us her story. When she left the house at sixteen she met a young man who took her to France and she bought some fake documents, but he was killed a few years later and she decided to return to England. When she returned, she met a man named Richard Evans, a Muggle. She never told Rick about her past and was living as a Muggle. They were married and had two little girls, one was named Alice Petunia and the youngest was named Lily Marie. She told us about Rick’s death in some Muggle contraption in an accident, and very briefly about Lily’s years at Hogwarts.” Mrs Schellden paused again and tried to recall more information stored in her.

“Ellen said that her daughter Lily was then married to James Potter, the son of Harry Potter.” Mrs Schellden smiled a bit, she turned to look at Harry who was absorbing every detail of the story. “She said that they were so happy, except for the fact that Lily had lost some of her babies,” she said with pity.

This came as a shock to Harry. He hadn’t known his parents had tried to have children before he was born. He had always assumed he had been the first. Harry tuned back to listen to Mrs Schellden.

“Ellen wanted to keep my portrait, so Jeremy gave it to her since he had another, but she had not told anything to either Alice or Lily. The two of them transferred everything, along with me from the vault that I had left to Ellen into another vault. We agreed that I would stay in the vault and she would be back to get me later. It wasn’t until a few months later that she returned with Jeremy, and they told me that a Dark Lord had sent someone to kill her and that she was going to go into hiding. She told me that Lily and James had gone into hiding with their son Harry, and that she would be back as soon as it was safe. That was the last time I saw her,” Ana finished now reduced to tears.

“It wasn’t until now, when Harry found my portrait that I learned that she was dead, and that this Voldemort had killed Lily and James,” she sniffed, as Nigellus gingerly handed her a handkerchief. “Thank you.”

“Thank you for your story, Ana. I had taken the liberty of investigating more about your background since our last conversation, and your story is as much as I could find. You are right; Marie did purchase fake documents for her name, and lived as a Muggle in France. The man you mentioned was killed in a Muggle robbery at a bank where he worked. Marie never confessed to anyone about her origins, so all of us who knew Lily believed her to be a Muggle,” said Dumbledore and continued, “Marie was killed when leaving Gringotts that day after setting up her vault. She and a man named Jeremy Schellden were both victims of an attack in Diagon Alley that day, but I don’t think Voldemort meant to kill her. She was Lily and James’ Secret Keeper at that time and was no use to him dead,” Dumbledore added sombrely.

“It never occurred to me that Jeremy was related to Marie. I simply believed he was an innocent bystander caught in the fire line. Now I know he was her brother. Since learning that you were Marie’s mother, I looked into your family. I am sorry to say Mrs Schellden that your two oldest sons are gone. It appears that they joined the Death Eater ranks shortly before your death. Jason was caught by Aurors and sentenced to the Dementors’ Kiss in 1981. He passed away shortly after that. Lucas, along with his family, was murdered when he had struck a deal with the Aurors to deliver those other Death Eaters who eluded Ministry officials. I am sorry,” Dumbledore said, and Anastasia nodded, but she didn’t speak.

After a moment of silence Harry spoke up. “Professor, do you know anything about my grandparents being separated for a while before my mum was born?” he asked tentatively.

Professor Dumbledore looked at Harry intently, as if trying to discern his question.
“No Harry, I am not aware of such a thing. May I ask as to why you believe this may have happened?”

Harry took out the tattered diary. “This was my grandmother’s diary. I have only read the first few pages that are legible. A lot of it seems destroyed, but if you read the first entry you will know why,” he said as he handed the small book to Dumbledore.

Dumbledore’s eyebrows rose up into his forehead in surprise. He took the offered book and opened it to the first page. He read the same entry that Harry had read just before coming here.

“Mmmhm,” Dumbledore exclaimed as he flipped through some more pages and read several more entries. He didn’t want to read all of it, for it was personal information that was Harry’s right to learn first.

“Have you looked into information of Alex Nightley?” Dumbledore asked as he handed the book back to Harry, and Harry nodded.

“Yes, Hermione did for me. He died in 1962, and had no surviving relatives that we could find,” Harry replied.

“Who is Alex Nightley? You asked me about him before?” Ana asked.

“He’s supposed to be my mum’s real father. It says here that my grandmother Marie met Alex Nightley, but he disappeared for some reason, and when he left, my grandmother was pregnant with my mum. She went back to her husband, my grandfather Rick, and I think Rick is my aunt Petunia’s dad. So either my grandmother had an affair, or my grandparents were separated at that time,” Harry replied.

Ana looked scandalised. “An affair! Lily was a child of another man?! That is ridiculous!” she said alarmed.

“Please, Mrs Schellden… calm down. If you wouldn’t mind Harry, I would like to see into Alan Nightley’s history and see if I can uncover anything of use to you.”

“Yeah, that will be all right, Professor,” Harry answered.

“For now I think it will be best if you head back to your dormitory. It is almost curfew time, and you don’t wish to be caught by Professor Snape.”

Harry stood up. “Thank you Mrs Schellden.”

“Oh Harry, it would mean so much to me if you called me Grandma Ana,” the old lady said her eyes brimming with tears.

“Ok Grandma,” Harry said, and she couldn’t help the tears. Nigellus again extended a handkerchief to her.

“Goodnight, Harry,”

“Thank you, Professor. Goodnight,” Harry said and turned to leave the office unanswered questions swirling through his head about the history of her mother’s side of the family. Come to think of it, Harry didn’t know much about either side. He hadn’t even known that his grandfather on the Potter side had been named Harry, and his grandmother was named Eloise Grant. Did Harry have distant cousins if Eloise had brothers and sisters? Harry thought his Potter grandparents must have been dead by the time his own parents died, or surely Dumbledore wouldn’t have said that Petunia had been his only remaining relative.

Harry descended on the spiral escalator and exited through the stone gargoyle which moved back into position to conceal the entrance. He wrapped his invisibility cloak about him and pulled out his map.

“I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” he said as he tapped his wand.

He scanned the empty hallways for any sign of Mrs Norris, Mr Filch or any professors. Almost everyone was in their common rooms with only a few students here and there hurrying back to their dormitories. Satisfied that the coast was clear, he was about to close the map when he noticed a name that caught his attention. On the third floor in the same room where fluffy was once locked up, on one side of the room, a tiny dot in a corner read Bianca Malfoy. Harry knew that Ginny had been looking for her all day and wondered why she was in this particular room. He was about to clear the map when he noticed that Bianca’s dot was not moving. He had the gnawing feeling that something wasn’t quite right. He decided to investigate. Harry ran up a set of stairs to the third floor corridor and neared the door he remembered so well from his first year at Hogwarts. Memories flooded his head about the time he, Hermione and Ron had gone after the Philosopher’s stone. He opened the door and braced himself, he still expected to hear fluffy growl at him. He smirked inwardly and shook his head. Harry looked to the dark corner where the map said Bianca should be, and he could barely see a black shoe sticking out of the shadows. What was she doing here?

“Bianca?”

No answer.

“Lumos,” Harry called for his wand to light up and walked towards Bianca. Harry was startled to see her gagged and tied up, leaning against the corner. His nostrils detected the sour smell of urine, and, with pity, he saw her sitting in a pool of her own liquid. Her eyes seemed puffy and her cheeks were red, stained with tears. She was actually sleeping right now, probably tired herself to sleep after struggling all day to free herself. Ginny said that she had been missing since lunch.

“Bianca?” Harry called shaking her awake. She woke up and began to thrash and scream, bewildered with fear. She could feel someone touching her, but she couldn’t see anyone, except for a wand floating in mid air.

“Shhh, shhh, calm down. It’s me, Harry,” He said trying to calm her down as he slipped off his invisibility cloak. Once she realised who it was, she visibly calmed down and began to cry. Harry gently undid the gag tied on her head, and undid the cords tied around her ankles. He helped her to her feet, and with a quick drying spell, he cleaned up her wet mess, dried up her uniform and the floor. He undid the rope around her wrists, and Bianca lunged at him, wrapping her arms around him and crying.

“What happened?” he asked as he held her a bit awkwardly.

Bianca was too embarrassed to speak at first then began to mumble incoherently while still sobbing. She explained how some Gryffindors were teasing her, so she ran away from them, then a few second year Hufflepuffs had caught her after class this morning and had tied her and gagged her, then dumped her inside this room and told her that here lived a horrible three headed beast. She had crawled to the corner and had screamed for help, but nobody could hear her.

“How did you know I was here?” she asked after she finally managed to calm down. Harry picked up her schoolbag which was just a few feet from the entrance.

“I got a tip,” he sort of lied. He wasn’t about to tell her of the map.

“Thank you… for coming. I don’t know if anyone else would have,” she said hanging her head. “Everyone hates me,” she said as she began to sob. Harry didn’t know how to handle girls’ tears. He shifted uncomfortably on his feet, before he offered her a hug so she could cry.

“Ginny was looking for you all day, and Hermione was helping her look for you. Hey, even Ron asked around a bit. Ginny’s been really worried. I think that if you didn’t turn up by curfew, she was going to go to Professor McGonagall,” Harry said trying to reassure her.

Bianca sniffed, and smiled a bit. “Why do people hate me and my brother so much?” she asked wiping her nose with her arm.

“Well, your brother is a git, and he can be really mean. Nobody likes Slytherins and I guess everyone just assumes you are like him, and since they can’t pick on Malfoy, they pick on you,” he offered a reasonable explanation.

“I wish I knew Ginny’s Bat Bogey Hex to defend myself,” she huffed quite mad. She had already heard of her legendary charm. Harry had to smile at her.

“Maybe you should ask her to teach you,” he offered and looked at his wristwatch. “Let’s get back to Gryffindor. It’s almost curfew for you,” Harry said and guided Bianca out of the room. They walked back in silence

“Can I go to the toilet first?” Bianca asked as she blushed.

“Sure, let’s go back to the second floor. That’s the closest toilet around,” he said to her hoping she wasn’t about to wet herself again.

“But that toilet is out of service,” she said with a questioning glance at Harry.

“No, it’s not out of service. It’s just haunted, but I know the ghost,” Harry guided her back down the set of steps and went in with her.

“Myrtle?” he called and the transparent figure of Myrtle came out of the piping in a toilet.

“Who’s here bothering m… OOOOO….Harry! Why haven’t you been back to visit me?” she asked pouting then noticed the blond girl with him. “Who is that?” she asked with mad expression and crossing her arms.

“Relax, this is just my friend and she needed to use the toilet. I just wanted to ask if it was ok to use your toilet?” Harry asked.

“Sure, you only come by when you need my help… is that it? Huh?” she screamed at him, “nobody cares about poor old whining, moaning Myrtle! FINE! See if I care… you are very mean, Harry… and I have been nothing but good to you…” she began wailing.

“Myrtle… stop. I promise I will come back to visit you… ok?” he said, feeling quite annoyed.

Myrtle laughed with joy and floated about in happiness. “Ok! You better come back. I will go visit my friends in the lake. See you soon, Harry!” she said and splashed down the toilet.

“I’ll be waiting outside,” Harry said to Bianca who nodded. He left the toilets, and took the opportunity to check the map; he was glad to see Mrs Norris prowling on the first floor, while Filch was in his office. Professor Snape was down in the dungeons. Harry noticed Remus was in his office, and then his eye caught the dot labelled Lillian De Valerio in the DADA classroom, but Professor Donovan wasn’t with her. The only other person out was someone named Vincent going up the main staircases. Harry thought it was odd that only his first name showed up, his last name was a garble of ink, and it couldn’t be read. He wondered who that was, and if there was something wrong with the map. Was it Goyle? Harry knew there were several ‘Vincent’s in the school. He peered closely at the last name and made out the first letter to be an L. So it wasn’t Goyle. He didn’t give the name a second thought as he stuffed the map in his robes, when Bianca came out. He thought there was a Vincent Lutjen in Ravenclaw, but wasn’t sure. Harry did make himself a mental note to talk to Lupin about the map. He remembered then that Joséphine didn’t show up on it. He was curious to see if she showed up now, but he would have to wait to check on that.

“Harry?”

“Yes?”

“I think it will be best if you don’t say anything to anyone. I don’t want stir trouble, and it will only make things worse for me if I rat on those second year Hufflepuffs,” Bianca said dejectedly, but then her face showed some resolve. “I will deal with this myself,” she said with determination.

Harry nodded. They walked in silence down the hallway, up the moving staircases and reached the portrait hole of the fat lady. When they entered the room, there were a quite a few people still up. Hermione, Ginny and Ron included.

“Bianca!” Ginny exclaimed as she saw her. “I was just about to go to McGonagall to tell her you were missing. Where have you been all day?” she asked, quite relieved to see her. Harry spoke before Bianca had a chance.

“She got stuck in the room in the forbidden corridor, so I went to get her.”

“How did you end up in that room?” Hermione asked.

“I was trying to run away from some boys who were teasing me. I didn’t pay attention where I was going. I didn’t mean to worry anyone and I didn’t think anyone would notice or care that I was gone,” she said and blushed. Ginny and Hermione looked at each other, and then glared at Ron.

“What?” he asked, annoyed.

“Well, you better get to bed, I can help you with your homework tomorrow or Sunday,” Ginny offered. Bianca nodded, but turned before she headed up the staircase. “Ginny, would you teach me the Bat Bogey hex?” she asked uncertainly.

Ginny grinned. “I’ll teach you some very useful hexes. Nobody will want to mess with you again,” she said with enthusiasm.

“Thanks!” Bianca said and flashed a big smile at her. “Goodnight” She turned and fled up the stairs. Ron mumbled something about not wise to teach a Malfoy a hex.

“Where did you go?” Ron finally asked when Ginny left to go to bed.

Harry explained all that he had learned from the diary, his great-grandmother, and his talk with Dumbledore. After the trio discussed more about this revelation, Harry began to feel really tired. It was nearly midnight by the time they went to bed, and for the first time since last year, Harry had nightmares about Voldemort, but when morning came, he couldn’t remember them.

****

The morning of the 28th of September was a bit chilly, but third year students and higher were gathered to go to Hogsmeade. Harry noticed that almost all of the professors would be going to Hogsmeade as well, and the students had been given instructions to not leave the main district without letting a professor know. Harry, Ron, Neville, Parvati, Lavender, Dean and Seamus were all going together. Ginny joined them, along with Luna Lovegood. They walked along the path to the town, and Harry noticed Professor De Valerio walking a few steps upfront, while Professor Donovan walked with Professor Snape trailing behind the group. Snape seemed upset and it was obvious that he was reluctantly agreeing to watch over the students. He did seem to be listening to Donovan as the man spoke.

“Where should we go first?” Neville asked.

“I need to stop by Honeydukes for sure,” Ron replied.

“I want to check out Zonko’s as well,” Seamus added.

“Let’s go to Honeydukes first, then we’ll meet Hermione at the Three Broomsticks when she gets back from Apparating lessons,” Harry said and the group agreed.

They re-grouped at the Three Broomsticks to plan where to go next. Hermione had now joined them.

“I read in the paper that there was a small rare and used bookstore that opened up in Hogsmeade this summer, so I’d like to go there…” Hermione began and noticed the rolling of the eyes, “…sometime. I can go while you go to Zonko’s. I see enough joke items after confiscating too much of the twin’s merchandise,” she added a bit annoyed.

“I’ll go with you. Maybe they have a book that could be useful for… the DA,” Harry offered to Hermione. She knew he wanted to look for more information on the veil.

“I’ll go with you guys,” Ron added.

“All right, how about we meet back here in about two hours?” Neville offered.

“Sounds good. We’ll see you in about two hours then,” Ron answered and the group split into two. They informed Hagrid where they were going and he nodded, barely paying attention to them as he was speaking with Madam Rosmerta.


Hermione, Harry and Ron made their way down the main street and turned right on the less used, dark and gloomy street that lead to the Hog’s Head.

“Why would anyone put a bookshop on this street?” Ron wondered as they stopped in front of a small shop with blackened windows. A sign hung above the door that read Gathoka Rare Collections.

The trio entered the store, a little bell ringing as the door opened and alerting the owner of new customers. The shop seemed empty of any patrons, but was cramped with bookshelves, tables, and stacks of books everywhere. Besides books, there were all sorts of odd objects; vials full of who knows what lining the shelves around the walls. Behind a glass case counter, a tall black man stood. He had been arranging the objects inside the counter.

“Welcome. My name is Zibiki Gathoka (pronounce ZeeBeeKee Ga-ta-ka). Is there anything I can help you find?” he asked, closing the glass door of the counter.

“Yes,” Hermione said pulling out a list, and Ron looked at her and groaned. The list seemed quite large.

“What?” she asked him. Ron put his hands up and mumbled ‘nothing’. Hermione turned back to the store owner. “I have a list of topics that I would like to see what books you might have on them.” She walked forward along the narrow space between the tables and stacks of books. Ron and Harry followed behind as they curiously glanced at all the things around. Hermione handed the piece of parchment to Zibiki.

“Yes…yes…yes… oh yes… mmm,” the man muttered as he read the topics down the list. He looked up from the parchment and turned to Hermione, “Are you interested in becoming an Animagus?” he asked with interest. “Or just information on the topic?” he clarified.

“I didn’t think there were any books that talked on how to become Animagi,” she replied quite perplexed.

“There aren’t but I have something better, if you can make it work,” Zibiki said as he turned around and began to scan the bookshelves behind him. “Ah, here it is,” he said pulling out small red leather-bound book. There was no title to it. He handed it to Hermione.

She opened the book to stare at the blank pages. “What is this?” she asked.

“It is a diary of a man who claims that one can become an Animagus in thirty days. It is all in here,” he said pointing to the diary.

“But how do I read it?” Hermione asked very interested. The man smiled a mouth full of brilliant white teeth that contrasted with his dark skin.

He took the book from her and breathed on the first page. Harry, Ron, and Hermione crowded around to see letters appear faintly. He breathed again and the letters now formed dark enough to read.

“It’s a riddle!” Hermione exclaimed.

“Yes, but no one has ever solved it. Until you answer the riddle correctly, the words will remain hidden,” he said. “If you want, you can purchase it. I have a money back guarantee. You solve the riddle, you keep it. If not, return it to me for a refund,” the man tempted Hermione.

Harry was weary of a diary with blank pages. He took the diary to take a closer look.

“Can I write in it?” Harry asked innocently.

“No, the diary if full, and it’s charmed so nobody can write on it,” Zibiki said and proceeded to demonstrate. He took a quill, dipped it in ink and tried to write on it. The ink simply glided across the sheet without staining it. Harry seemed relieved.

“All right, I’ll take it,” she said and the man nodded.

They walked around the crammed space and Hermione bought some more interesting books on topics from DADA spells, to Ancient Runes. Finally there was only one topic left.

“Elvish script? I don’t know if I have anything in my collection about this. Of course, I don’t know what Elvish looks like. Do you have a sample of the script?” he asked and Hermione pulled out the picture of the veil she had from the newspaper cut-out.

“See these scratches on this? I think that is Elvish,” she said.

“This is what you call Elvish? Ah, yes, of the banished race. I may be able to find something on this, but it will take time. I may not find it,” he cautioned.

Hermione’s eyes gleamed with excitement. “Will you look for it?” she asked hopefully.

“It will cost you,” he replied.

“How much?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know. Anywhere from 200 to 1000 Galleons. Depends on what I can do,” he replied.

“If you find that book, we’ll get the money,” Harry said with conviction.

“Very well. I will send you word when I know something,” he replied and charged them for the books Hermione bought.

“Thank you,” Hermione said receiving her change, they were about to leave when Hermione spotted some titles on a stack of books that caught her attention.

The bell to the shop jingled and Johana Moon walked in. She walked to the counter and Zibiki greeted her. “I wanted to return this book I bought this summer, really didn’t help…” Harry heard her say. He didn’t quite catch most of the conversation, but heard her ask:

“… anything on passages and ways to find them?”

Zibiki replied something.

“I’ll take it,” Johana said, Harry heard the clinking of coins, and then Johana walked past them ignoring them. Harry was getting rather bored waiting for Hermione, and Hermione noticed.

“Sorry, that was just talking about Arithmancy and Mathematics… shall we hit the road?” she asked and Harry and Ron quickly agreed. They were about to leave when Zibiki called to them.

“Wait… I was looking through my inventory lists,” he said motioning to a rather large book detailing the contents of his shop. Several items had words of ‘sold’, ‘lost’, or ‘stolen’ written across them, but the vast majority of them didn’t.

“I didn’t know if I had sold it, but I do have one more text that you might be interested in,” he said as he motioned upstairs. The trio followed him apprehensively; Harry stuck his hand in the robe of his pocket and felt his wand. They were surprised to see a room full of books from floor to ceiling. Zibiki disappeared among the stacks, to return later with a huge bundle of rolls of parchments.

“This here speaks of The Magic Planes, and of portals that connected our world to these planes. I think that arch in that picture is one of these portals…” Zibiki paused when he heard the bell to the door ring again.

“You may look through this and see if you are interested. I will be right back,” Zibiki said as he left the group. Hermione quickly undid the knot tying the scrolls, and unrolled them on the floor. She began to quickly scan the text.

“This is interesting. I am not sure if it really has anything to do with the veil, but I think I want to get it, just to read it over. What do you think?” she asked. Both Harry and Ron shrugged.

They helped Hermione to roll the parchment, and they headed downstairs. As they neared the bottom, they heard the voice of a girl.

The trio entered the room, and they saw Sally-Anne paying Zibiki for a purple book that was in her hands. She looked at the Gryffindors, waved uncomfortably and turned around and left the shop. Hermione thought that this was the first time she had ever seen Sally-Anne without her friend from Ravenclaw.

“Did you decide?” Zibiki asked.

“Yes, I think I will take it. It should make for some interesting reading at least. I do want to ask you some more questions,” she said and the trio spent about another hour in the shop by the time Hermione was done. Hermione took out a bit more money and paid Zibiki for the scrolls, and one extra book on beauty magic.

“Remember, you have the option to return anything you don’t want to keep,” he reminded them.

“Thank you.”

“Please come again soon, and I will send post when I have found anything on the Elven texts,” he said and smiled pleasantly at them.

“OK, we will come back on our next Hogsmeade visit,” Hermione replied and the trio left the book shop. They hurried along the lone, dark street when they heard footsteps behind them. They turned around, but there was no one there. They began to walk faster, trying to reach the safety of the main street. They could hear the footsteps echoing behind them, now walking faster as well. Harry, Ron and Hermione pulled their wands, when three figures stepped in front of them.

“Accio wands! Going somewhere?”


Chapter 25: Planes of Magic
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Chapter 25

Planes of Magic


An older grubby looking wizard with dark brown hair had his wand pointed at the three youngsters, just as their wands flew from their hands, and neatly into his.

“This part of town is not for little children,” another said, his hair hung limp, the blonde color grimy and greasy.

“Don’t waste time! Get their money!” The other man, slightly younger, nervously berated the other two.

“You heard ‘im. Hand over the gold,” The man with dark hair demanded, they each had their wands trained onto the three youngsters now.

Harry sighed with relief when he realized that these were not death eaters, but that they were simply being robbed.

“We’ll give you all our money if you let us go, unharmed,” Harry said trying to buy some time.

The three men laughed. “I don’t think you are in a position to make demands,” the one that had spoken first said to Harry. The dirty blond man approached Hermione from behind, and reached for her hair to smell it. “We should take this one with us,” he said with a look of lust in his face. Hermione shivered with disgust, as his foul breath blasted her face. This angered Harry and Ron, and with one knowing glance they all three acted simultaneously.

Hermione stomped on the blond man’s foot with great force and elbowed him in the ribs, as Harry lunged at the man with dark hair going after his wand, while Ron went for the younger one, tackling him to the ground. Hermione whirled about and landed a solid knee into her attacker’s groin. He crumbled to the floor in pain, dropping his wand as he clutched his crotch, and Hermione swung the heavy bag with all the books at his head, knocking him back. Their reactions had caught the three assailants by surprise and they were not used to fighting without wands as a first resource.

Harry had landed a strong punch to the dark haired man’s face, and using his training from private sessions, summoned his wand with his hand. As soon as he felt his wand in his hand, he shot a stunning spell at the man, but he dodged it, and he aimed a spell at Harry.

Ron had managed to knock the wand from the younger man’s hand, but had received a punch to the stomach. Ron managed to tackle the young thief before he got to his wand, and the two were on the floor fighting. DADA practice was beginning to condition Ron’s body, increasing his strength, while years of fighting with older brothers had taught him a few moves. Especially when magic was not allowed and they had to resort to physical brawling, but the man was stronger than Ron.

Hermione searched frantically for her wand, when the blond man grabbed her by the hair, and punched her in the face, silencing the shrilling scream she had given when he caught her hair. Hermione landed on the street, stars dancing in front of her eyes, but she spied her wand just within reach of her hand. She reached for it, and just as the man was about to grab her again, she stunned him. She jumped to her feet to help Ron, who was being choked by his opponent, but the blond man had dodged her stunner and reached for her foot, unbalancing her and she fell forward, bracing her fall with her hands and scraping them against the rough stone paved street.

“Stupefy!” Someone cried from behind the group, the blond man went limp and released her ankle. Hermione turned to see Zabiki running towards them, his wand outstretched. Hermione quickly aimed her wand at the man choking Ron, and stunned him. The man crumbled onto Ron.

Harry screamed Expelliarmus and the magic behind it was so strong that his assailant went flying a few feet away, his wand flying out of his hand, just as Hermione had shot a stunning spell while he was in mid-air.

“Are you two okay?” Harry asked helping Hermione to her feet, she was on her knees. “I think so,” she replied looking down at her scraped hands. Harry helped Ron to his feet. Ron massaged his ribs with one hand while the other massaged his throat… “Yeah, I’m alright,” He said coughing from having his neck choked, “Just a few punches to the ribs and head, that’s all,” he said hoarsely.

Zabiki reached the group and asked if they were ok. He had heard Hermione scream and had come when he peered out of the door.

“Yes, we’re fine… sssss,” Hermione said and sucked her breath at the pain as she felt her tender cheek where she had been punched.

The three students and Zabiki turned to the sound of running footsteps. Professor Donovan was running towards them, and rounding the corner, Professor Lupin was coming as well. Donovan had heard Hermione’s scream and had rushed to see what was happening, while Lupin had seen Donovan running towards the street that lead to the Hogs Head.

“What happened?” Donovan asked as he arrived. He had seen Harry disarm the last man standing when he rounded the corner and saw Hermione stun him in mid-air.

“These men were trying to rob us,” Ron said now hovering over Hermione.

“We were going back to The Three Broomsitck after visiting Mr. Gathoka’s book shop, when these three guys jumped us and tried to rob us,” Hermione explained at the same time.

Lupin arrived out of breath and they retold the events as they had unfolded.

Donovan bounded the three men, and being a Ministry official arrested them for aggravated assault, and robbery attempt. “I’ll deliver these men to the Ministry. Maybe you should return to Hogwarts and go see Madam Pomfrey,” Donovan said noticing the blood in Hermione’s hands, the trickle of blood on both of Ron’s and Harry’s lips, and the bruises that were beginning to darken, “someone will be in contact with you later to get your testimony as well,” he added.

“We’re fine. I don’t want to let this incident ruin my day. We’re not harmed too badly, so I think we could go to meet our friends and spend the rest of our day like we were supposed to. We can just get some ice or something.” Harry argued, shaking his sore hand. It hurt to punch someone square in the jaw.

Donovan seemed to pause and turned to Remus.

“I’ll take them to Madam Rosmerta’s,” Remus offered.

“All right,” Donovan said and nodded. “You should at least clean those wounds. Professor Lupin, would you see that they get those scratches looked at? I will take these men in,” Professor Donovan requested and Lupin nodded. Donovan created a portkey. “By they way… excellent work. If you wish, you could write a detailed account on the events of today for extra credit. I would like to see how you analyze your defense technique, and what your thought process was in this situation. It could be very educational for the class as well,” Donovan said and disappeared with the three men.

“Blimey, we get jumped and he assigns homework!” Ron exclaimed with disbelief.

“Honestly Ron! It’s not homework. You don’t have to do it, unless you want extra credit,” Hermione huffed.

Harry introduced Professor Lupin to Zabiki, and thanked him for coming to their help. Lupin conjured some cloths and a disinfecting potion to wipe the scrapes from Hermione’s hands, a small cut on Harry’s eyebrow from a punch he received and his lip, and some cuts on Ron’s lips. They gathered the books that had spilled about the street after Hermione had been knocked down. They bid goodbye to Mr. Zabiki. As they left, Zabiki called to them.

“Miss, you forgot a book,” he said and handed a bright purple book to Hermione.

“Thanks,” she said and added it to her bag.

They were bombarded by questions from their friends once they saw the battered students as they arrived at the Three Broomsticks.

“Why don’t we go find a table first? I’d like to sit down for a while,” Hermione interrupted. Her head was beginning to ache, and she wanted to get a bag of ice to place on her cheek.

News of the assault traveled like wild fire on a windy day, and the tavern was packed to the brim, everyone crowding around Harry, Ron and Hermione asking questions. Hermione had ice on her cheek, while Harry was icing his swollen knuckles. Ron was gladly describing all of the glory details, wincing when he moved too much. Fred and George were cheering him after every dramatic punch.

Suddenly several Professors from the school rushed into the Three Broomsticks. Professor McGonagall used the sonorous spell to have her voice amplified.

“All Hogwarts students are to return back to school grounds immediately. Report to your common room. Prefects please ensure all students are accounted for and report to me in the Prefects Lounge in an hour.”

“Professor, what’s going on?” Ron asked Remus who was making his way to Harry.

“We need to get you back to the school. Do as you are told,” he said as he began to usher the students. The teachers seemed to be extremely upset, but they wouldn’t divulge any information about why the students were being asked to return to the school. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong or going on.

“All right, that’s every one of the boys,” Ron ticked the names of every boy that had signed out to go to Hogsmeade.

“Everyone is here except for Sally-Anne,” Hermione said as she frowned looking at the list.

“Who?” Ron asked.

“Sally-Anne Perks, 6th year. Honestly Ron,” Hermione shook her head at him.

“Oh, her. Hey, wasn’t she at Zabiki’s? That’s Sally-Anne right? Or is that the bald one?” He said remembering the girls from the store.

“No, that’s Johana, but you’re right, Sally-Anne was there as well,” Hermione said as she turned to the students.

“Have any of you seen Sally-Anne Perks today in Hogsmeade?” She asked. “Or if she returned?”

Pavarti answered “I saw her heading down to the direction of the Hogs head a while after you left to go to that bookstore.”

“Yeah, we saw her in the same bookstore, but we there for a while longer after she left.” Ron commented.

“And since?” Hermione asked.

Nobody seemed to have seen her.

“You might want to ask Jessie Bank in Ravenclaw, they’re inseparable,” Lavender offered.

“I’ll do that, but I’ll check upstairs one more time,” Hermione went upstairs to check her room once more, but didn’t find her there.
“I saw this on top of my bed. It was sticking out of the bag of books I brought from Hogsmeade,” she said

“So? You bought lots of books,” Ron said confused.

“Not this one. This is the one that Sally-Anne bought.”

“Isn’t that the same one that Zabiki gave to you saying you had forgotten one?” Harry said recognizing the bright purple cover.

“Why would Sally-Anne buy a book and drop it as she left the shop… unless…” Hermione said and her eyes widened. “Oh my God! Do you think those guys jumped her, the same ones that tried to assault us?” Hermione asked with worry.

“We better go to the meeting Hermione. We can report Sally-Anne as missing and you can tell Professor McGonagall about your theory,” Ron said as he noticed the time. Ginny, Derek, Hermione, Ron and the two seventh year prefects left to attend the meeting.

By dinner time the whole school was already informed of the incident with Harry, Ron and Hermione. It seemed the only item up for discussion. This annoyed Harry and Hermione as they were pestered with stupid questions or with the same question over and over again! Ron loved the attention.

“Did Professor McGonagall say what happened in Hogsmeade?” Harry asked trying to ignore the questions.

“Nope,” Ron answered.

“They simply asked for a head count to see who was missing. We told her Sally-Anne was missing. It seems she’s the only one. Then we were dismissed and sent down to dinner,” Hermione replied. Dean leaned over and asked a question. Hermione rolled her eyes.

“I think I am going to go to the common room. I can’t take all of this silliness anymore!” Hermione grumbled as she put her spoon down. “Plus, I want to get into those books that I got,” she said and this thought brought a smile to her lips. She winced a little at her sore cheek. It hurt to make facial expressions.

“I think I’ll come up too. I want to read more of my grandmother’s diary; I’ll probably go to bed early too. I am tired.” Harry replied to her standing up as she did.

“Yeah mate, kicking some villain arse was definitely tiring,” Ron agreed as he also stood up and yawned. He winced with pain as he stretched his bruised up torso. “Ow,” he said standing straighter. The three students returned to Gryffindor and Hermione retired to her room. She decided to do her reading in her bed since she wanted to avoid those already gathered in the common room. Harry and Ron went up the stairs to their dormitories each going to their respective beds.

Ron pulled out a copy of Quidditch Monthly and it wasn’t even 5 minutes when he was snoring. Harry shook his head and closed Ron’s curtains and placed a silencing charm on them. He returned to his bed and picked a comfortable position and opened up the diary. Just as he was about to flip the page, there was a burst of fire in front of him and a red phoenix feather gently fell on him. Veronica had sent a letter! Harry’s heart began to burst with excitement! With school just beginning, things had become hectic and Harry had found himself without the time to write the long letters he used to. Especially after he started dreaming about Sirius, he wanted to learn more about the veil. He had finally written to her again last week. He realized that he had missed her cheerful letters, and her wit. Now here was his response. Harry also knew that his heart beat with trepidation. He knew that eventually the physical distance between them would lead to one of them making the decision of ending their relationship. There would not be a chance for him to visit her where she was, and it was too dangerous for her to return to England. Was this the letter? Would she want to remain friends? Would he accept that after her breaking up with him? Harry closed his grandmother’s diary and took his invisibility cloak, just in case. It was still before curfew, so it was okay for him to go over to Dumbledore’s office. When he arrived, the gargoyle leapt aside to allow him entrance. Harry found that Dumbledore’s office was empty, and that Fawkes had gone as well. Muluc was perching on Fawkes stand, without a head. The macaw heard Harry approach, and lifted its wing, allowing its head to come out.

“Hola. Carta para Harry,” the bird croaked and extended his leg. Harry took the letter, and scratched the back of Muluc’s neck. Muluc’s feathers puffed as he curled his head forward to allow Harry better access.

“Gracias Muluc,” Harry said to the bird. Muluc looked up, “mañana,” Harry said indicating that tomorrow he’d be sending his reply back. Muluc seemed to nod and disappeared with a crack.

Harry made it just in time to the tower, and bid Hermione and the others good night. She had come down from her room and was sitting with Ginny, Lavender and Parvati. It looked like she was helping Ginny with homework, while Lavender and Parvati seemed to be updating them on the latest gossip. Harry wondered how they could get homework done while gossiping. He saw Hermione roll her eyes a few times, and he grinned. He raced up to his room, and closed his curtains. He opened the envelope and pulled out a smaller blue envelope from within. It looked like a howler, only it was blue. He was a little puzzled as he opened the second envelope. He pulled out a letter and a photograph fell from inside of it. It was a picture of Veronica in her school uniform. She was laying at the foot of a huge Guanacaste tree, and asleep. Harry smiled. “Hey,” he said softly and Veronica’s photo woke up. She smiled brightly at Harry and waved as she stood up and straightened her robes, then stretched. She looked at Harry and spoke.

Hello Harry, how are you?

Harry was startled. “Veronica, how’s this poss…” the photograph continued speaking, and Harry realized that it was some sort of recorded message. He looked at the letter written in Veronica’s small handwriting. The photograph was reading the letter. Harry smiled as he focused on the picture and watched her facial expressions as she told him about her school and new friends she was making. She talked about his letter and how much she missed him. One of her new friends was originally from Denmark, and her parents had moved to Honduras just this year because of some charity project they worked on. She had learned this way of correspondence from her, and was really excited about it. She hoped Harry could make it work as it took a while to get it done right, and that she looked forward to hearing his voice.

I miss you terribly, Harry. I love you, and I wish we could figure out a way to see each other again. I know I am supposed to stay away from England because of… him, but couldn’t you go to Italy over the summer? My father had a stepbrother who now lives there, and I plan on going to visit him this summer. I also have a grandmother who lives in Spain. Please Harry, can you find a way to visit? I want to see you. I miss you.

Veronica


Harry read the letter three times. The instructions said that he needed to tap the photo with his wand to get her to start reading the letter again. He had almost forgotten the sound of her voice, and it was nice to hear her again. It made the letter more real as he could see her expressions as she spoke. He finally put the letter away, and transfigured a few old quills into a picture frame and placed her picture on his bedside table. He found that he couldn’t get to sleep, so he decided to resume his earlier plan of reading the diary. He flipped the pages until he came to the last entry he had read, then flipped to the next page. He was very careful not to tear or do any more damage to the fragile diary. He began to read several snippets about Lily’s first years, and became engrossed in the diary. He was so hungry to learn more about his mother, his family, and the entries seemed so real. Most pages were burnt about half way, and Marie didn’t write everyday, but the information contained in those pages was precious to Harry.

Harry read bits and pieces from the old tattered pages about Lily’s years at Hogwarts, and about her summers in between school. It made him feel as if he knew his mother a little more. There was mention of his father meeting his grandmother Marie once over Christmas break of Lily’s 6th year.

… Potter. He seemed like a nice boy. For three years now I have heard Lily complain about him often enough to know that one day she will realize she likes him. Potter, now his name sounds familiar… Anyway, we bumped into him in London while doing some Christmas shopping. I personally liked Remus better. The little one was a true gentleman for being so young. He was funny too but the clown one was Sirius. The one I can’t figure out how he fits with this group is that creepy Peter. I don’t know if I should judge based on one meeting, but he didn’t give me a very good first impression...

… I left; Lily and Angelina went with them for a bit while they had some ice cream. I watched them for a little bit before I came back. Lily seemed to get along the best with Remus…. were doing a good job of entertaining the crowd. Sirius is such a show off… he just doesn’t seem to fit Lily’s type, although I could see that he fancies her. James too, I say, but Lily says she can’t stand him. She claims he is so immature and arrogant. But he is only 16, what can you expect?...”

October 15th 1978

Alan… I wish you could see her. She seems so happy. She was really excited about her last year at Hogwarts, and guess what? She wrote to tell me that she went on a date with James! Last summer she couldn’t stand him, and I have no idea what made her change her mind. I had thought that Remus would be the first one to get a date with her, but I guess not.

… she still has not decided what to do once she leaves school. She is still together with James. This has been a hard year for him… Lily said that she is glad she can be there for him…

…I believe he accepted his offer to study as an Auror once he leaves Hogwarts. She has an offer to study to be an Auror too and to work at Gringotts, but I am afraid about her being an Auror. I have heard some things about a dark lord from Lily and…


Harry’s head jerked forward and he snapped it back becoming awake. He had been reading for quite a while. He closed the diary and decided to go to bed for the night. Everyone else was already sleeping and he wondered what time it was. He was surprised to see the alarm clock display that it was 1:12 a.m. Good thing tomorrow was Sunday and that he didn’t have to get up for class. He switched his robes to his pajamas, and placed the diary inside his trunk. He crawled into bed and fell asleep immediately.

****

Harry was swamped with homework. Those free periods he and Ron had thought they would spend in blissful laziness had been a very short lived dream, and now homework time was even spilling all the way into Sunday. Not only did they have a mountain of homework, they were having a quiz in DADA class about the last three weeks of theory given in class, then Tuesday morning they had the test involving the obstacle course. Also, Ron had scheduled a Quidditch practice on Sunday. By dinner time, Harry and Ron were mentally and physically exhausted. Still, they had trudged up the steps to get their books to do some more homework. Harry lay down on his bed, just for one second. He fell asleep immediately. Ron had practically fallen asleep on his way to sit down on his bed. Hermione had come up to see why they were taking so long, but didn’t disturb them when she found both of them asleep. She took off their shoes, covered them each with a spare blanket and closed their curtains. She took their unfinished essays back with her to proof for them.

Harry awoke to a strange noise. It sounded like someone was whispering, although it seemed like angry whispers. He turned his head to look at his clock. He wondered who would be arguing in hushed tones at 4 in the morning. He tried to ignore the whispers and go back to sleep, but it sounded like they were right next to him. He was becoming annoyed.

“Would you shut up?” He yelled angry, but either they hadn’t heard him or they were ignoring him. The whispering still continued. This made Harry really grouchy.

“Did you not hear me?” He sat up and pulled back his curtains fully. His eyes widened in surprise and horror. Everything was the same; the beds were in their proper place, cupboards, trunks, and desks, everything in its proper space. But he was no longer in the Gryffindor tower; instead the room around him had a high vaulted ceiling. The walls were lined up with seats arranged in a theatre style. Right in the middle of the room, a dais stood with the arch and veil slightly fluttering in the middle of it. Harry stared with disbelief. How did he get into the Department of Mysteries!?

“Who are you yelling at?”

Harry turned towards Ron’s bed. He had pulled his curtain open and was rubbing his eyes. Harry saw the shock register in Ron’s face when he realized where they were.

“Will you go to back to bed, people are trying to sleep!” Seamus yelled from behind his curtains.

“SHhhhhh. Shut up Seamus!” Dean yelled as well.

“Hey… what are you all screaming about?” Neville mumbled and pulled his curtains open. “Harry?” He asked with fear as he realized where they were.

“Everyone, grab your wands! Now!” Harry screamed with urgency and jumped from his bed. He grabbed his wand from his bedside table where he kept it.

“It’s 4 frigging am in the morn…” Seamus began then his face paled when he opened his curtain. “What the bloody hell!?” He turned to see Harry, Ron and Neville out of bed already, their wands in theirs hands as they looked about the room obviously upset.

“Where are we?” Dean whispered in fear.

“In the department of Mysteries at the Ministry! Now get up and get your wands!” Harry responded again as he surveyed the room looking for anybody.

“The Department of Mysteries! How did we get here?”

“I don’t know. I woke up to hear whispering, and opened up the curtains and here we all are. Be alert, Voldemort may be behind this,” Harry said and everyone paled.

“V—V—V—Vol—Volde--Voldemort?” Neville choked in horror.

“What are we going to do? We can’t fight him!” Dean said; he seemed about to cry.

“We’re dead… we’re dead…” Seamus repeated trembling.

“We are not dead! Not yet, and not if I have anything to say about it!” Harry yelled at them frustrated. “There’s no time to be afraid now, get yourselves together! We’ve been preparing for this, come on…” Harry encouraged and the group nodded.

“Ron, you and Dean and Neville go to that side and check the doors. See if one of them is open,” Harry directed them, and Ron and Neville dragged Dean with them.

“Seamus, you’re with me.”

Seamus nodded.

They climbed up the stairs to check all the doors but none would open. Harry tried blasting them away with a Redactor curse, but nothing would happen.

“There’s something weird about this place,” Harry muttered as they made their way back down the stairs. So far there was no sign that anyone was there with them.
They checked the doors at ground level, the ones Harry assumed where used to bring in the prisoners, but those too wouldn’t open. They gathered again amidst the beds.

“Any luck?” Harry asked.

“Nothing, we’re trapped” Ron replied.

“There’s gotta be a way out!” Dean objected.

“Can we go through there?” Seamus asked pointing at the veil.

“NO!” Harry, Ron, and Neville screamed at the same time. “Anybody that goes through never comes back,” Neville added.

“Why are we here? Who brought us here?” Ron began to question.

“Shhhh. Listen,” Harry quieted them down.

“What?”

“Do you hear that?”

“I don’t hear anything” Ron replied.

Harry was once again hearing the whispers coming from the fluttering veil. He walked closer to it.

“Can’t you hear them whispering from in there?” He said and pointed to the veil. The boys shook their heads. Harry was standing a few feet in front of the veil. The boys walked closer to him to see if maybe they could hear something.

Harry

Suddenly someone jumped from inside the veil and grabbed Harry by the waist.

“AAAARRRGHHHH!!!” They all screamed. The body that grabbed Harry seemed to be in a state of decomposition. Rags covered his body; pieces of rotting flesh were missing from his arms, long black hair was covering the figure’s face. They could only see half of the zombie’s body, as the other half was still within the veil.

“Harry…”

“SIRIUS!” Harry screamed as he recognized the voice and the disfigured face of his godfather.

“There’s no time… hurry…” the hoarse voice of the man pleaded with urgency. Something was pulling Sirius back into the veil, and Harry felt a tug. He could hear what sounded like angry and agitated whispers but couldn’t make out what they were saying.

“No, Sirius!” Harry screamed as he grabbed a hold of his arms. Harry had to keep from vomiting when his tight grip squished the flesh in Sirius’ arms through his fingers like pudding and he let go as a reflex. Sirius slipped from grasping Harry. Harry reached instinctively again, this time holding onto Sirius’ wrists. The flesh once again squished through his fingers, but Harry didn’t let go and he was now holding directly onto the bones. He didn’t have time to think about the bile he felt rise in his throat. Harry pulled trying to keep Sirius from going back in there, but whatever was pulling him back, it was dragging him with Sirius. Harry fell forward and landed on the floor, his head and shoulder’s disappearing through the veil.

The other boys had been petrified to their spots when Sirius had jumped out. Seamus had thrown up when he saw Harry’s hand squish through the flesh. It had all happened so fast, but now Ron reacted as Harry fell forward.

“HARRY!” Ron screamed and jumped and as he landed he grabbed hold of Harry’s ankles. “DON’T STAND THERE! HELP ME PULL HIM OUT!” Ron yelled and the three others joined him. Ron was pulling by the ankles and Neville grabbed a hold of Harry’s waist, while Dean and Seamus each took a leg. They could all now hear Harry’s screams, and Sirius’ voice.

“Let go Harry. Find a way out first!”

“I’m not letting you go!” Harry screamed to be heard above the noise. It seemed to him as if they were caught in the eye of a tornado. Black and gray mist swirled with gale winds about them, forming a dark and stormy tunnel. Loud cracks and bolts of electricity seemed to crackle within the walls of the tunnel. Sirius seemed to be dangling, as strong force was pulling him.

“Hurry,”

A great force suddenly tugged on Sirius; it pulled all five students in through the veil. The jolt had been so strong that it had snapped Sirius’ wrists and he had fallen, twisting and disappeared in the black mist at the end.

“NOOOO!” Harry screamed as he still clutched Sirius’ hands in his.

They were all screaming as they felt being sucked along the round tunnel towards the black pit. They felt as if they landed with a great splash into water and all five of them bolted in their beds, and sat up screaming.

“It was a nightmare!” Seamus screamed relieved when he woke up in his bed, in the 6th year dormitory room. Ron jumped from his bed and went to see if Harry was there. That was not an ordinary nightmare. He opened the curtains to find Harry sitting on his bed, trembling. All others had jumped out of bed as well and were staring in horror at the pair of hands that Harry was clutching tightly.

Harry seemed to realize what he was holding and he dropped them, but Sirius’ hands never reached the bed, they had turned to dust and vanished before the tiny particles hit the sheets.

The door to their room was suddenly blasted open, and the students whirled about to find Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, Lupin, and Donovan entering the room, wands pulled out. It seemed that the whole Gryffindor tower was behind them, but Professor DeValerio was trying to hold them back. They all spoke at once.

“Are you all right?” Dumbledore asked seeing the other students gathered around Harry.

“Harry, are you ok?” Remus asked concerned.

“What was happening in here?” Snape asked while Donovan and McGonagall searched the adjacent bathroom.

“Professors?” Harry asked. They were all still in shock from the nightmare. But it couldn’t have been a simple nightmare because all of them had dreamt the same thing.

“Fred and George came to alert us. You had been screaming and shouting in your sleep and woke up the students above and below you, but nobody could open the door. We have been trying to find a way in for about half an hour. We feared of what might be happening in here.”

“It was a nightmare,” Harry responded.

“Then why didn’t someone just open the door?” Snape said with disapproval.

“You don’t understand, we were all in the same nightmare,” Harry responded irritated.

The professors all looked at each other.

“What was the nightmare about?” Professor Dumbledore asked with concern.

“Sirius,” Harry said and looked towards Remus.

“Sirius? What about him?” Remus asked bewildered.

“I think he needs help.”

Dumbledore put his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Harry, nobody can help Sirius now.”

“But he told me, just before we were all pulled into the veil! He said that I needed to find the way out first. That there wasn’t much time, he said to help him!” Harry yelled frustrated. The other four boys added their comments to confirm Harry’s words.

“The veil!?” Remus exclaimed.

“I think it will be best if you can all tell us your dream in detail,” Dumbledore said, “but first… Minerva, would you order the rest of the students to their rooms?”

Professor McGonagall nodded and ushered the students crowded outside the door to their rooms. Professor DeValerio had kept them from coming inside.

“Miss Granger, you too.”

“Please, I just want to know that they are ok,” Hermione pleaded.

“You can see them once we are gone, or you can speak with them tomorrow. They are all fine, but Professor Dumbledore wishes to speak with them,” she said her lips pressed into a thin line, then her features softened. “If you wish I will inform you when we are done. Please return to you room,” the Professor added.

Hermione nodded and thanked her. She suddenly remembered her watch. She went back to her room and tried to contact Harry, but Harry had taken his wristwatch before taking a shower after Quidditch and had forgotten to put it back on. Ron, on the other hand, had fallen asleep with all of his clothes, so he answered Hermione’s call unobtrusively when he felt his wristwatch vibrate.

The boys were telling the dream in every detail.

“Is this the first time that something like this has happened?” Professor Dumbledore asked.

“No,” Harry replied, “it happened a few weeks ago as well, but we were all awake and in the bathroom, just before Defense class. I saw Sirius behind me in the reflection in the mirror but then I turned around and there wasn’t anyone there. I left and came back when Neville and Seamus screamed, and we were arguing that they had seen someone in the shower, when Ron went to pull the curtain away, Sirius was standing there. He called my name and we all heard it. He left two wet footprints that vanished after a few seconds. Like the hands, I woke up with Sirius’ hands in mine, but they disappeared,” Harry finished his explanation, then he remembered his first dream of Sirius this summer and re-told it along with the one he had on the first night of school. It was obvious to see that he was extremely upset.

Harry couldn’t discern the faces of the Professors as they listened to him. Snape had disbelief etched on his face, while Lupin looked concerned. Donovan seemed lost in concentration. Dumbledore frowned.

“Professor Donovan, I understand that as an Unspeakable you are unable to share details about your work, but is there anything you could tell us about this. Has this ever happened before with someone going through the veil?” Dumbledore asked, and Donovan thought for a moment.

“No, there has never been a reported case of this kind or any type of contact from someone who has gone through. But there is no history of the veil beyond the first known case of someone being sent through the arch. We don’t know where the veil leads, but it has been ancient knowledge that those who pass never return.” He paused, and everyone thought he was through speaking.
“But…”

“But what?” Snape asked surprised.

“Everyone ever recorded to pass through has never carried a wand with them.”

The room was silent as they had all been stunned by the implication.

“So Sirius could be trapped who knows where, instead of being dead!?” Harry asked alarmed.

The boys had talked about this being a possibility and it was the reason why they were interested in finding anything about the veil. But now that Professor Donovan was implying that because Sirius had a wand with him he may have found a way to contact Harry, it only served to make him believe his suspicions were true. Sirius was alive, only he was trapped somewhere.

“We need to find a way to get him out of wherever he is!” Harry jumped from his bed.

“Harry, we have no way of helping Sirius,” Remus tried to reason. He didn’t want to believe that there was hope to save Sirius and be dealt another devastating loss.

“He said I had to find a way back first, so he must think the answers are here in this world! You didn’t see how he looked, he is dying… he said that there isn’t much time… we have to do something!” Harry screamed frustrated.

“Calm down Potter! Have you thought of the possibility that all of this is just another trick of the Dark Lord? What if he wants you to believe that you can go after Sirius and you will voluntarily kill yourself and go through the veil after him? You would be doing him a favor,” Snape snarled at Harry.

Harry stared at his professor. He hadn’t thought of that possibility. But it all just didn’t make sense, and he couldn’t ignore the fact that all of them had seen the dream, all of them had seen Sirius that time in the shower. How could Voldemort do this? Besides, his scar never hurt in either of these dreams. Harry was positive Voldemort had nothing to do with this.

“You raise a good point Severus. We must be certain of what this phenomenon is. But right now there is nothing we can do. We will look into this matter, and I will request information from the Ministry and other sources. You should return to bed for now. We will speak more of this as soon as we learn more,” Dumbledore said and stood up.

Everyone gathered to leave, and Remus was the last one to exit the room. He had shared a few words of comfort to Harry, but they hadn’t had an effect on him. Harry couldn’t take his mind off the possibility that Sirius was alive somewhere. I have to find him! Harry thought to himself.

“What do you reckon this business with Sirius is, Harry?” Ron asked now seated at the bed with Harry. The other boys were standing in front of the pair. They were alone again.

“I don’t know. If Sirius is alive, he won’t be for long. You all saw him, he was like the living dead. He said that we must find the way back first, but from where!”

“I might have an answer,”

“Hermione!” Harry exclaimed as he saw her strolling towards them, her arms full of books and the large bundle of parchment rolls she had bought from Zabiki.

“I’ve been reading this parchment…” she began as she dropped the pile of things on Harry’s bed. “And it talks about Planes of Magic.”

“Planes of Magic?” Harry asked.

“Yes, it says here that our world is connected to not only other dimensions of space and time, but also to the primary and ethereal planes of magic. Whoever is the author of these scrolls believed that there are about 99 Planes of Magic. Some are primary, with secondary planes surrounding them, and the lesser planes connect the primary planes. But the most interesting part is this,” she said as she unrolled one of the long parchments and showed them the schematic drawings on it.

“That’s the archway! The Veil in the Department of Mysteries!” Harry exclaimed as he saw the drawing.

“It says here that these are Monolith Portals used to travel between the Planes,” she explained.

“So that’s actually a portal?” Neville asked.

“To where?” Seamus asked.

“I don’t know. It says here…” Hermione unrolled more parchments until she found the one she was looking for, “that there were a total of 6 portals that were known to remain here on earth. Five of them were to each Elemental plane, and one ethereal plane,” she added. “But that’s all I’ve been able to read so far,” Hermione said pointing to the four sheets from the large bundle of rolls. “I still have to go through these,” she pointed to the huge bundle of parchments.

“That’s got to be thousands of pages!” Neville exclaimed.

“Don’t worry,” Ron countered, “this is just a bit of light reading for her. She’ll be done by tomorrow,” he said as he patted Neville on the shoulder.

Hermione huffed. “I can’t read quite that fast! Although, I am a fast reader. Just give me time to read through them. In the mean time I think you should do a bit of research on planes of magic and see what you come up with,” she directed to Harry and Ron who groaned simultaneously.

“I want to help,” Neville piped in.

“Yeah, me too.”

“And me.” Both Seamus and Dean offered.

“All right, but not a word to anyone else you hear me?” Harry warned them. They all nodded.

“We better get to bed. It’s almost time to get up,” Hermione exclaimed as she saw the time. It was 5:50 am. “We can get together in the library and plan what we’re going to look for,” she said as she began to gather all of the papers she had brought with her.

They went back to bed and all of them fell asleep before their heads even hit their pillows, all except for Harry. It was a long time before he could calm down enough to get to sleep. Sirius was not dead. He believed it fervently, and Harry vowed that he would do everything to get to Sirius, even if it meant to cross over the veil itself. With that promise in mind, he fell asleep.



Chapter 26: 99, 98, 97, 96… Planes of Magic
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Chapter 26

99, 98, 97… Planes


On Monday morning, Harry woke up to sunlight streaming through the windows. He reached for his glasses and turned to look at his alarm clock.

“SHIT!” Harry cursed as he bolted from his bed. It was 8:23 am.

He noticed that everybody was already gone except for Ron who was still snoring.

“GET UP, GET UP, GET UP!!!” Harry began screaming as he searched for his shoes.

Ron mumbled and put a pillow over his head. Harry found his trainers and picked up one and sent it flying in Ron’s direction.

“OW! What the bloody hell was that for?” Ron asked sitting up in his bed.

“WE HAVE CHARMS IN 5 MINUTES!!!!” Harry bellowed as he stuffed parchments and his book into his bag. Ron was mad that he had slept through breakfast!

Ron jumped from bed and began to panic when he couldn’t find his robes.

“WHERE ARE MY ROBES?” he screamed in frustration.

“Ron, you idiot. You went to bed again with your clothes on last night!” Harry yelled at him and Ron saw that indeed he had his school uniform still on. Both teens scrambled from their rooms and ran as if a hot coal had been placed in their boxers. They missed the large note posted on the noticed board. Nor did they pay any attention to the fact that the hallways were deserted. Instead, they ran like the wind to the Charms classroom until they reached the door, which was closed. Harry had reached it first.

At the same moment that Harry went for the door to open it, Ron tripped and both teenagers went flying through the doorway.

Harry quickly sprang to his feet, while Ron got up but was bent over with his hands on his knees trying to catch his breath. They had begun to mumble apologies.

“Sorry…” huff huff “…Professor…” cough cough “…we are a little…”

Only then did they realize that the classroom was empty.

“Where… is…. everybody?” Ron wheezed.

Harry tried to catch his breath. “I don’t know,” he replied.

The two students began to walk back down the hallway checking other classrooms. These too were empty. They were utterly puzzled. Even the portraits were not in their frames.

“Are we in another dream?” Ron asked.

“Aren’t you supposed to be in the Great Hall?” One of the portraits that had remained asked the two students.

“Uhm, yeah… that’s where we’re headed,” Ron said to it and the two sprinted at a much slower pace towards the dining hall.

When they approached they noticed that it was rather quiet. Only the voice of Professor Dumbledore could be heard behind the doors.

Harry and Ron opened the door a crack, and their eyes widened as they saw what was going on. They both felt a sense of Déjà vu. The hall had been once again decorated in black tapestries. The house tables had been removed and the hall was aligned with chairs on each side of a hallway that ran down the middle towards the front of the hall. It was filled with students towards the back while in the front people that neither Harry nor Ron recognized were sitting. Instead of the head table in its place there was a cream colored casket. Beautiful white roses and other pale flowers were arranged throughout the hall. Professor Dumbledore stood in front of a small podium off to the right. He was in the middle of speaking.

“… behalf of the teaching staff and the student body, I would like to offer my deep condolences to the Perks family.” He nodded towards the front row.

Harry and Ron silently opened the door and squeezed in.

“Harry,” Hermione whispered from the very last row. She had waited for them until the very last moment and had saved them a spot.

Harry and Ron made their way silently towards her and took their seats.

“What’s going on?” Harry asked while Ron asked, “Who died?”

Hermione glared at Ron, and he had the decency to blush.

“It’s Sally-Anne. She was killed Saturday in Hogsmeade,” Hermione said as she sniffed. Ron and Harry could tell that she was crying. They wondered why, since Sally-Anne hadn’t been a close friend of hers. But they noticed that there were a lot of girls with tears in their eyes. They wanted to ask more details but they received some glares from people around them for being disrespectful. They turned their attention towards the front.

A woman in her early thirties made her way up to the podium after Dumbledore had stepped down. She began to speak, her voice constricted with emotion. It was Sally-Anne’s mother. Hermione began to sob as she heard the gut wrenching pain of the young mother as she described how she remembered her only daughter. Ron put an arm around Hermione as she quietly sobbed. Even he felt tears threatening from the heartfelt words of Sally-Anne’s mother. Harry closed his eyes. Seeing the hall like this had brought back the day of Sirius’ recent funeral. But Sirius may not be dead, he thought to himself. If he wasn’t, Harry had to find a way to get him back.

Later that afternoon, Harry, Ron and Hermione were seated under a large tree by the shores of the lake. School had been cancelled for today. The three sat in silence for a long while, each absorbed in their own thoughts. Hermione began to quietly sob.

“Hermione? Why are you so upset?” Harry asked confused. Ron also seemed very confused by her reaction to Sally-Anne’s death.

“It’s just… I don’t know how to explain it. I feel so bad… I mean… for the past five years I’ve lived with this girl, slept in the same room as her, shared a lot of my classes with her, yet I never offered one bit of friendship towards her. And yesterday, I spent the whole day without even thinking what might have happened to her. I didn’t even wonder if they ever found her! And… I feel that maybe if she had been my friend, maybe she would have stayed in the bookstore with us, and gone back out of the store with company… and… and those men wouldn’t have…” She couldn’t continue.

“Hermione, you can’t feel guilty over something like that. Maybe you are right, that if she had been with us those men wouldn’t have assaulted her alone, but on the other hand, no one knows what could have happened. We got lucky in Hogsmeade. It could have been us, we could have been killed too. Please don’t blame yourself for something you didn’t do or didn’t have any control over,” Harry said as he moved closer and placed an arm around her to comfort her.

“I know I am being overly emotional,” she sniffed, “but I also thought that it could have been me… and you read the Prophet… what they did to her…” the three of them shuddered.

They stayed silent for a while and Hermione leaned her head onto Harry. Harry became alert of Joséphine approaching. He turned towards the castle and saw her, accompanied by Fred as they approached the group.

“How are you guys?” Fred asked after greeting the trio.

“We’re doing okay,” Harry replied for them.

“Listen, George and I are going to go to our shop. Lee sent us a message that he needed to see us, and since class has been cancelled for today, well… no one will miss us. Would you cover for us if we are missed, though?” he asked and the trio nodded.

“Do you need anything from our shop or Diagon Alley since we’re going to be there anyway?” Fred asked and Ron quickly asked for some things. Harry and Hermione couldn’t think of anything they needed. Fred left the group and Joséphine stayed behind with Harry, Ron and Hermione. Talk turned to the topic of Mages.

“I was reading that scroll Professor Dumbledore gave you,” Hermione began excitedly as she sat up, “and it gave me an idea to search for information. I did find something about that strange connection that happens when you and Harry touch hands.”

Both Harry and Joséphine perked up and paid attention.

“There isn’t much published on Daiteran Mages, but I found some information on Psionic magic. You said Professor Donovan explained that Daiteran Mages can wield Yellow Magic in its purest form. From what I read, Yellow Magic is mental magic in nature. Legilimency actually has its roots in yellow magic, and what happens between the two of you is a form of Legillimency. My theory is that since you are a Daiteran Mage you can tap into the raw power of yellow magic and you don’t have to actually perform a spell to enter a person’s mind. Direct physical contact with a person will link your mind to the person’s.”

“But Joséphine and I have had other contact since then and it doesn’t happen all the time,” Harry interrupted thinking of the many times they’ve touched, even those time when they purposely shook hands to try and make the connection happen.

“Well, it may be because she doesn’t have real control of her powers yet. It may have been involuntary when it happened. I am sure that as you practice more with Professor Donovan you will learn to control this aspect of your magic too.”

“Oui, I theenk eet will get better with time. Last time eet ‘appen, eet was not painful,” Joséphine agreed. Harry didn’t ask why it only seemed to happen with him.

****

The next day, the DADA class waited with agitated nerves as they were to perform their test today. They had to complete the course without failing once. Donovan was up front giving the instructions.

“I have paired you up on a random order,” he said pulling out a parchment that he pinned on the air. “Find your partner. Miss Frobisher, I am afraid you will have to go alone since we are now an uneven number.”

Vicky nodded.

The students crowded around the note hanging in mid-air. Some groans could be heard as people found out who would be their partner.

“Hey, Hermione, I’m with you,” Harry exclaimed glad that he didn’t get Malfoy.

“We’re dead last!” Hermione exclaimed in horror. She was already frayed with nerves that she would fail to get up that miserable rope, now she would have to wait to the end to go. She wanted to have this over soon.

Donovan levitated himself to a high platform he had created so he could watch each student as they passed and to grade their performance. Using a Sonorus spell, he called from high above. “Frobisher, Go!”

Fifth year Gryffindor Victoria Frobisher began to tackle the obstacles. For someone so scrawny like her, she moved with surprising strength and agility. When she was three quarters of the way, Donovan called for the next pair.

Pair after pair of students made their way through the obstacles. So far only two students had failed to complete the first half of the course, but Donovan had said that he would give partial credit and assign points according to time, distance, and obstacles cleared.

“Hermione, relax. You may not get an O, but you’ll at least get an E. You get all the way to end,” Harry tried to comfort her. She could only nod. They were watching Fred and Ron go through. Fred managed to climb the rope without a hitch, while Ron took a bit longer, but he made it. He stood at the top platform and flashed two thumbs up at Harry, before sliding down to the bottom.

Gryffindors, Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs were cheering Ginny on who was slowly, but surely, making her way through the obstacles. Agnes Vilsack, Ginny’s partner for the test, had fallen in one of the pit traps halfway through and sent back to the beginning. She glared at the tiny red-head as she made her way passed the point where she had failed. Ginny had made it three quarters of the way up the last rope when she paused.

“COME ON, GINNY!” Dean shouted to encourage her. Fred and George, and Ron also began to cheer her. Her grip failed. She gave a startled cry as she fell; but she disappeared in mid air and then appeared at the front with a soft pop. Ginny was disappointed that she hadn’t finished the entire course, but she was ok with what she did. She wouldn’t earn an O, but at least she would pass the test.

Harry and Hermione watched the last pair before their turn. Hermione jumped startled when Donovan shouted her name and Harry’s. Harry kept his pace with Hermione and watched her as she paced herself. She wanted to save her strength so she could maybe get all the way up that dratted rope.

At last Hermione stood and looked up at the rope keeping her from achieving a perfect score. Harry went to the rope next to hers.

“Ready?” he asked her as she placed her hands on her rope. “You can do it. I know you can,” he said and gave her an encouraging smile.

“Ok. Let’s do this,” Hermione said as she grabbed a hold of the rope, determination written in every feature of her body. She wrapped the rope around her left leg and it went around her inner-thigh between her legs, around her knee and calf on the outside of her left leg and across the top of her left shoe. She clamped her right foot onto the rope on top of her left foot. This acted as a brake and she could actually support herself without using her hands and arms too much.

The technique used so she would not completely burn out her arms/grip was to climb up the rope by bending her legs and sliding the rope across her left foot by loosening the right brake foot. Once she had moved about 1.5'-2’ of rope between her feet, she applied pressure to ‘brake’ and straightened her legs. She continued to do this for several feet. She was about 4/5 of the way when she stopped. Her arms were shaking badly, and she felt that at any moment her grip would fail. She tried to move but she ached all over. She couldn’t do it. She just couldn’t do it.
“Don’t you dare give up now!”

Hermione looked up to see Harry peering over the edge of the platform.

“Harry… I can’t… my arms are going to give out,” Hermione said tears streaming down her cheeks. Her abdominals were screaming bloody murder and her legs and arms felt like someone had put a jelly-jinx on them.

“You can’t get this close and not try to make it up here. I know you can do it Hermione. Look, you’re like 3 feet away!”

“Harry!”

Harry saw that Hermione was ready to give up.

“I didn’t know you were a quitter Hermione. Is that how you want to see yourself as? A Quitter? COME ON! DO IT!!! YOU WILL REGRET IT IF YOU LET GO!” Harry screamed at her.

“DON’T…” Hermione screamed as she bent her legs one more time she pressed her foot on the rope and straightened up “CALL” she moved her hands higher “ME” she repeated the same procedure “A QUITTER!” she screamed at Harry as her hands grabbed onto the platform.

“THAT’S IT! ONE MORE; COME ON!”

She bent her knees one last time, then straightened her body once more applying her weight onto her feet and pulled her body up.

Harry desperately wanted to give her a hand, but he didn’t want Professor Donovan to not count her climb because he had assisted her. So he cheered her on, “COME ON!!! YOU’RE ALMOST DONE. NOW BRING YOUR LEG UP.”

She laid her weight on the platform, bending at her waist and resting her chest on it, and brought one leg onto it, then the other and then rolled onto her back.

“YOU DID IT!!! YOU DID IT!!!” Harry cheered as he knelt next to her and helped her to sit up.

“OH MY GOD! I DID IT!!!” she screamed and without thinking she pulled Harry to her and pressed her lips with his. Harry had not expected that reaction and it caught him completely by surprise. Hermione hugged him and cried. “Thank you Harry… I couldn’t have done it without you,” she said amidst her tears. Harry could not see the colour that had rushed to her cheeks once she realized what she had done.

“Erm…” His head was still spinning from that kiss. “You did it all yourself. I just encouraged you the same way you would have done for me,” he managed to say after a while. He helped her to stand up. Her cheeks were tinged with a rosy glow and Harry didn’t know if she was blushing from the kiss or if it was from the physical exertion. He did know that he felt awkward now after that kiss. Only then did they notice the noise coming down from the bottom of the slide.

They turned to see everyone—except the Slytherins—was jumping, and screaming, and hollering for Hermione. Hermione grinned as she let go of Harry and took the slide down to the bottom. The moment she landed, Ginny tackled her.

“You did it! You did it!” she was screaming. Parvati and Lavender too were there congratulating her. Hermione didn’t know why they seemed so excited about her success, but she didn’t care. She didn’t know that a feud had started after taunting from the Slytherins saying that the ‘Mudblood’ would not finish the course at all.

Professor Donovan congratulated everyone on their efforts. Their grades would be posted outside his door later that day. He dismissed the group. Harry was relieved to see that his encouraging of Hermione hadn’t cost him or her anything. At least he hoped.

Harry turned to a movement on the stands of the Quidditch pitch and was surprised to see that almost all of the other Professors had come to watch the students. Professor Sprout was walking along with Professor McGonagall leaving the stands, while Hagrid seemed to be in conversation with Madam Hooch. Remus waved at him and Harry waved back. Even from here Harry could see Professor Dumbledore’s twinkling eyes. The only one missing was Professor Snape. But then again, why would Snape bother coming to see the class that Harry well knew he had been dying to teach for the last decade.

“Harry, you coming?” Fred nudged him.
“Yeah,” Harry breathed and turned to head back to Gryffindor tower for a quick shower then headed back down for proper breakfast.

After breakfast while Hermione was in Arithmancy class, Harry, Ron, Neville, Dean and Seamus were in the library searching for information on planes of magic and magic portals. After a while Dean had to leave during break. Hermione joined them then.

“I hate Malfoy,” she huffed as she sat down at the table.

“What did he do now?” Ron asked with worry.

“Nothing I couldn’t handle. Stupid git. I was this close to punching him again. He accused Harry of helping me up that rope this morning. He said that if Harry hadn’t pulled me up, I would have not made it,” she said fuming.

“WHAT?”

“Ignore him Hermione. Professor Donovan saw the whole thing and if he didn’t accuse us of cheating I could care less of what Malfoy thinks,” Harry interjected.

“I’ve got more important things to worry about than him,” he added. Harry didn’t want to waste anymore time than possible. Since Sunday morning they had not made any more progress on what they could find about the portal in the Ministry Department. Hermione had read many more pages of that scroll but so far it only talked about each plane of magic, the dangers, the barriers, the effects it had on magic, how to survive in each plane, what to avoid, etc. With 99 supposed Planes of Magic, there was no way of being completely sure where Sirius had ended up.

“We have to eliminate all options of what that sixth plane is. We know that 5 of the portals on Earth led to each one of the elemental planes. That would be the Planes of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Light…” she said as she ticked those on the list. Now, the sixth portal leads to one of these 94 Planes of Magic…” she indicated to the ones left over in the list. “It says here that it was an ethereal plane… so we can cross out the Para-Elemental Planes of Dust, Mud, Magma…” Hermione began to cross out names on the list.

“Para-elemental?”

“Yeah, these are Planes that exist between two elemental Planes. Like the Plane of Smoke is between the Planes of Fire and Earth. We can also cross out others…” Hermione explained about some of the types of planes that were non-ethereal. She surveyed the list after a while. “That leaves us with 75 Planes of magic…”

“That’s too many to take a guess!” Harry said frustrated.

“Even if we were down to two I wouldn’t guess, one mistake and you’ll die instantly the moment you enter the plane if you’re wrong,” Hermione said.
“But Sirius didn’t…” Neville pointed out. Hermione’s face brightened.

“Neville! That’s right! You’re a genius…” Hermione said as she began to unroll more parchments and handed some to each.

“Hermione? What…?”

“Look through these! We can narrow down that sixth plane by figuring out which ones are hospitable to humans! There are a lot of Planes of Magic that you have to prepare before you enter the Plane in order to survive. There are very, very few that are hospitable to humans upon entering the plane without protection…” she explained. “For example, The Plane of Earth is a universe of solid rock and firm soil, there are a few air pockets, water pockets, etc., but you have to use an ‘Earth plane protection’ spell or something like that or you will be crushed flat at once the moment you cross through the Plane barrier. You also have to do something in order to breathe and move, and in the Plane of Earth you cannot see a thing. There’s supposed to be a ‘We're just passing through’ ward that can allow travel, but I didn’t understand much about that… but never mind all that. What we need to do is to find all of the Planes that would allow a human to live without having to do anything for protection, at least not instantly…” Hermione said and the others had a gist of what she was referring to.

“If Sirius is still alive, then it means that when he crossed the veil and came… wherever… he would have to be in one of the Planes where he wouldn’t die immediately the moment he entered,” Hermione said looking over the list. “We’ll have to start over with the list, and I think we can be sure that out of the five elemental Planes, only The Plane of Air can be a choice, all the other ones you die instantly upon crossing into those Planes if you’re not prepared before hand. Let’s make two lists: Planes where a human can survive and Planes where a human can’t.” Hermione said and wrote ‘Plane of Air’ under the column heading for Planes hospitable to humans. Hermione distributed several parchments among them and each began to read about the properties of each Plane of Magic, and more specifically if it would kill a human who entered the Plane unprepared.

Harry wanted to know where the veil lead and figure out a way back as soon as possible. He also wanted to learn if there was any way that he could contact Sirius. But the task seemed to be daunting. They hadn’t even figured out where Sirius was.

“Break is almost over,” Hermione announced much to Harry’s displeasure. “We better hurry. We don’t want to be late for Potions. We’ll see you at lunch,” Hermione said to Seamus. Neither he nor Dean had received a high enough mark to make it to Potions. Harry, Ron, Hermione and, to everyone’s surprise (and Snape’s horror!), Neville had made it through. It seemed that Harry, Ron and even Neville were capable of reading Potions instructions without the intimidating presence of Snape. Not to mention that their OWL examiners had been quite friendly. They were the only sixth year Gryffindors in the class.

“I’ll stay here and look for a bit longer,” Seamus offered, and he ticked off one more name from the 83 Planes left over. The list for possible Planes where Sirius could be had two names, the other 14 Planes they had managed to read about were quite hostile to a human, and practically all meant instant death to a human entering unaware.

“Thanks Seamus, see you later,” Harry said and the group dashed out of the Library and hurried down to the dungeons to get to class. They passed Dean on his way back to the Library.

Professor Snape had not arrived when they entered the classroom. Hermione ignored Malfoy as she had to take her seat next to him. Harry groaned at the fact that he had to sit with Pansy Parkinson again. At least Crabbe and Goyle had not made it pass the fifth year Potions. Even Professor Snape couldn’t do anything about helping the Slytherins since their O.W.L. was administered by third party examiners. The sixth year Potions class of each house was small, so all of the houses were in one class. There were four Gryffindors, five Slytherins, three Hufflepuffs and eight Ravenclaws in the sixth year class. After class, the four Gryffindors left the dungeons and headed to the dining hall. They were joined by Parvati, Dean and Seamus on their way to Charms, then it was only the trio, plus Neville, who were taking Care of Magical Creatures. Hermione realized that there was someone missing and it hit her that the missing student was Sally-Ann. She still felt bad that she had rarely noticed the shy Gryffindor, and felt even worse when the class continued and no one seemed to notice that she was gone until Hagrid had called for a moment of silence in remembrance of the student. Hagrid’s sixth year class was really small. Besides the four Gryffindors, there was only Lance Cruise, and Susan Bones from Hufflepuff, Sara Fawcett from Ravenclaw, and Daphne Greengrass from Slytherin.

After class, Harry worked on his homework during the rest of the afternoon since he would spend his time after dinner with Professor Donovan doing his ‘detention’. He accompanied Ron and Hermione to dinner then made his way to the DADA classroom.

******
A/N: Happy New Year Everyone. Thanks for reading!


Chapter 27: Mage Secrets
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Chapter 27
Mage Secrets


“Good evening Professor,” Harry said as he and Josephine entered the DADA classroom.

“Good evening. Please close the door, Potter,” Harry did so and locked it with the bolt on it. Donovan locked it with a spell as well and placed a Silence Ward on the room.

“For the past several weeks we have been working on getting acquainted with the power and feel of the different types of magic. As you may have noticed, there are certain kinds of magic that seems a little bit easier to handle for each of you. This can be explained by the fact that you are each a different MageKind.” Donovan motioned for the students to take a seat. Harry was hoping that today Donovan would reveal what kind of Mage he was.

“Now that you know the basics of magic essence, I would like to share with you something about Mages. What I am about to tell you is knowledge that is not known among the Wizarding world; knowledge so old that it is only whispered in folktales and legends. Professor Dumbledore said that Mages are rare, but thousands of years before it was not so. The Wizarding world transformed to something more structured like it is today when wizards began to mix and match the magical essences to suit their needs better. The colors of magic were forgotten and, with them, so were the Mages,” Donovan paused; he stood up and began to pace the room slowly as he spoke, his mood visibly darkened.

“The downfall of the Mage Class began with a Warlock name Autrius who used Psionic Magic to try and control the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. When the battle was over and he was defeated, there was still much fear left in the Wizarding world because many feared Autrius’ followers. This fear turned to fear of Yellow Magic. In turn, that fear was transferred to Daiteran Mages who are the only ones to wield Psionic magic to the full extent of its power,” he said looking over at Joséphine.

“Soon after Autrus’ fall, Daiteran Mages were being executed for the most minor infractions, and then Wizards and Witches didn’t even need a reason to apprehend Daiteran Mages and sentence them to death. When most Daiteran Mages were killed, or perhaps they had hid to save their lives, the fear turned to Mages in general. To make matters worse there were a couple of truly terrible dark Mages that only enforced the fear of Mages. The belief then became that a Mage is always a Dark Wizard, and anyone suspected of being a Mage was hunted down and Mages were killed almost to the point of extinction.”

Harry and Joséphine were captivated by the tale.

“As time passed, our kind disappeared from public knowledge, but a few of the bloodlines still trained, and the knowledge of them was kept secret. Trained Mages are rare now, but they are more common than the Wizarding world realizes and we have lived among them in quiet.” Donovan paused, seemed to gather his thoughts, and then continued, “The existence of Mages has become a heavily guarded secret; the knowledge of our powers written down, the history of our kind kept within The Books of the Mage Code. Only those belonging to a direct Mage bloodline and trained in the art of Mages can read the pages. So the knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation in this way,” Donovan paused as if to contemplate something before he continued.

“There are very few bloodlines that know they are Mage bloodlines, all of them know of the books, of their knowledge and they still train Mages. But there are many bloodlines out there that do not know they posses the power to become Mages.”

Harry raised his hand. “So in order to become a Mage you have to train as a Mage? I thought you said Mage traits were inherited.”

“Yes, both a true. Every descendent of a Mageblood can become a Mage. So in every generation there have always been Mages around, but the majority never discover that ability and few rarely do become Mages. Centuries ago the knowledge was lost or never passed down from parent to child. It was perhaps done to ensure that the Magechild’s life would not be forfeit for fear of Mages. A Mageborn child will not become a Mage because Mageability will not grow on its own. It has to be trained and developed. If a Mage doesn’t know he is a Mage, he will never become one except in certain and very rare cases.

“In ancient days there was a Mage Academy, much like Hogwarts. A record was kept of any Mageblood child born in any corner of the world and upon their fifteenth birthday they would be sent to train at the Academy. Each Mage Apprentice studied until the Council conferred onto them the title of Mage. It takes years to master the Mageability.”

“So you know of every Mage ever born in the world?” Harry asked curious and wondered why one of his parents hadn’t known they were Mages, or had they?

“Not anymore. When the Mage Academy was destroyed all of those records were destroyed, as well as the knowledge of the Ward that was used to identify Mageborn children upon birth. Now there only remain seven Ancient Mage bloodlines that make up the Mage Council. One of these Magebloods is the Keeper of The Book of the Mage Code, two other bloodlines track and update the remaining records that keep the genealogy of all those lines that we know are Mageblood.”

“So you ‘ave always known that we were Mages?” Joséphine asked.

“We don’t know of every Mage that is born. Without the Ward, it is impossible. What we have is a few ancient records of known families that produced a Mage. So we have kept the genealogy of each family through the centuries, keeping track of descendants and such. But our records are not complete. So there are many Wizards out there who could be a Mage, but we never know. Upon a Mage’s 15th birthday, sometimes the Mageability is manifested, but it rarely happens. If we become aware of a Mage from a family that is not in our records, a new record is then started. The Mage council rarely intervenes when there is belief or knowledge of a Mage, especially when the Mages themselves do not know of their power. Only when somehow they discover their abilities or when there is a Mage who indicates a great amount of power do we step in and make them protégés,” Donovan paused when Harry raised his hand.

“How can you detect if a person is Mage then?” Harry asked.

“We keep an eye out on events at each of the Wizarding schools in every country of the world. If a Mage is discovered we search our records and start a new one if the Mage is unknown. This is how we realized you were Mages. You Harry, have been of interest to us since the day you defeated Voldemort when you were a baby. We have kept an eye on you since you returned to the Wizarding world and began to attend Hogwarts. We became aware of Joséphine when she turned 15th years old. Even then we weren’t able to discern if either of you needed training or not. But last year it became evident that Miss Bellou’s power will grow and any training in anything will only increase that power. To leave that Mage power untrained could cause not only her own death, but the death of many around her. Also, it could reveal to the world our existence and that is something that we will keep a secret as long as we are feared,” Donovan paused then turned to Harry. “We have recently discovered that your mother, Lily, was a Mageblood, and as you have demonstrated throughout the years, you are an exceptional Wizard. Now that we know that you are a Mage, it is important to train you for your own protection. Also, if you were steered to the dark side, you both would be formidable Dark Lords.”

“Better keep us where you can watch us,” Harry said watching Donovan apprehensively. This answered his question why Donovan was so interested in him. He wanted to ask about his mother; Donovan said that they had discovered that she was a Mage. Was it because of Alex Knightley? Once Donovan was assigned to his vault case by the Ministry he had learned Marie Ellen’s true identity. Was Lily a Mage because of the Schellden’s? But there was something about Donovan that he didn’t quite trust. There was more to this man than anyone could know. After all, he could disguise himself, was an Unspeakable, and now talked about secret Mage Bloodlines. Harry didn’t know how much he really could trust him.

Donovan turned to scrutinize Harry. “It is good that you a weary of me, and not so trusting. That will be another lesson, choose who you trust wisely, especially when you are a Mage. Even your friends will betray you, someday… somehow,” Donovan said with a hint bitterness. Harry noticed that he seemed to be speaking about himself. Donovan regained his composure.

“Vous êtes in the Keeper bloodline?” Joséphine asked with interest.

Donovan laughed. “You really think I would divulge such information? Now it is not the time for you to know. Like I said, that knowledge is guarded heavily. Lets move onto describing Mages and the known kinds of Mages…” Donovan said as he leaned against his desk.

“In general, Mages have some magical powers that are common to all regardless of the kind of Mage. For example, Mages are the only magical class with real Psionic resistance ability. It is ironic that those who could resist the control of the Warlock Autrius, and were the ones to end his reign of terror, in turn were almost wiped out of the face of the earth,” Donovan said his tone of voice sarcastic.

“Mages can learn to wield magic with their hands without the use of staves and wands, but it is very difficult since wands and staves are used to channel the magical energy and to project it. Another power that all Mages have is a great ability to learn new, more advanced powerful spells, and quickly. However, Mages require extensive physical training to increase strength, dexterity, and stamina. Since a Mage has the capability to wield large quantities of a type of magic in its purest form, it is imperative that a high stamina be maintained, or a single spell could drain a Mage of their magical power and leave them vulnerable,” Donovan said as he began to pace slowly as he spoke.

“There is one other thing that all Mages have in common, but that has always been kept secret from the Magical world. It’s the one thing that clearly distinguishes a Mage from any other magical being. Mages have the ability to create portals on command and cast teleportation spells, which are different than those used to create Portkeys, and are untraceable by the Ministry.”

“But Portals are impossible to create!” Joséphine exclaimed.

Donovan smirked, “It is impossible for any other wizard, warlock, witch, or sorcerer. No other magical being can create a portal on command. It takes them years and meticulous study to create portal with the use of potions and rather complicated spells, and even then, the portal is not stable. Mages can do it without thought.”

“So that’s how you disappear into brick walls, you open up portals!” Harry exclaimed with understanding and wondered if he could learn to do that as well. Donovan seemed to read his thoughts.

“This takes time, knowledge, and practice to learn, not to mention insuperable amount of energy. So, although all Mages have the ability, not all take the time to learn.”

“You will teech us?” Joséphine asked, excited.

“In time, but first not only must you get stronger, you must learn to wield your magical strength properly before you can even attempt such a feat. And yes Harry; that is how I do it. It is very handy if you wish to make a hasty retreat, especially if you are disarmed, for you don’t need a wand to create a portal. Yet, I’ve just begun to master that ability. It takes years to become adept at creating portals,” Donovan turned to his watch. “I don’t have enough time to give a description of kinds of Mages, so that will have to wait until another time.” He stood up and headed to the door.

Harry was once again disappointed that he would not be able to learn what kind of Mage he was. He’d been told he was an elemental Mage, but they had yet to narrow down which element he favoured.

“We have gone over our time limit; you need to return to your common room at once. Until now we have mostly worked on recognizing the different feel for each type of Magic. From now on we will begin to focus more specifically on your abilities according to you each of your kind. So Joséphine, I would like for you to practice summoning as much yellow magic as you can. Harry, keep your practice with the Elemental spells. By the way, you have made very good progress with the air and water magic as you demonstrated yesterday,” Donovan said although to Harry it didn’t seem that he approved of him using his Mage magic in public like that. Harry had found Malfoy threatening his little sister, Bianca, in a deserted corridor. From a distance, Harry had caused a strong wind that had swept Malfoy away without touching Bianca, pushing him into the toilets then causing the toilet water to regurgitate onto Malfoy. Harry had thought that no one had seen him do anything. He didn’t know that Donovan had sensed his Mageability.

“You are dismissed for tonight,” Donovan said and the pair left the classroom and headed for Gryffindor.

They walked in silence for a while, but Harry wanted to talk to Josephine, to get to know her. He didn’t know why, but he felt so comfortable with her around. He was becoming accustomed to the feeling in his body when she was around.

“So, did your parents know you are a Mage?” he asked to begin a conversation.

Joséphine looked down at her feet, “I do not know my reel parents. I was adopted when I was baby when my mother gave me away.”

“I am sorry,” Harry said feeling like a jackass.

“Eet’s alright. You did not know. I knew I was adopted. But I learned I was a Mage when Professeur Donovan found me in France…”

“How did he find you?” Harry asked curious.

“He came looking for me, at my school; he said they knew I was Mage because of something that ‘appen in school, so he came to see what potential I ‘ave. He said I needed training, for my safety. But he was coming ‘ere to ‘Ogwarts to teach. Eet is the reason why I ‘ave come to ‘Ogwarts,” she laughed. “I was seven year student in Beauxbatons, but I was ‘urt. I could not take my final tests, so I decide to come ‘ere. I really wanted to move away from mes parents too. Ma mother is ok, but I ‘ate mon père. He ‘ates me, and I ‘ate him,” she said and shuddered as if relieving a nightmare.

“I guess we also have that in common. We didn’t grow up knowing our true parents, and have to live with people we hate,” he said thinking bitterly of his Uncle Vernon and his cousin.

As they walked, they began to talk about Harry’s life a bit. Harry was telling Joséphine the time when Fred and George had given his cousin Dudley a Ton Tongue Toffee.

When Joséphine and Harry entered the common room, they were laughing hard. Joséphine almost tripped on the threshold so Harry reached out to steady her. It was this way, almost embracing and filled with mirth, that they entered. Fred was sitting with George waiting for Joséphine to return. Most of the Gryffindors were still up.

Hermione turned to look at Fred whose easy-going look had turned to a scowl when Harry and Joséphine entered. Hermione frowned. The whole school knew that Fred fancied Joséphine, but they were not officially going out. George too noticed the dark look on his brother, and tried to get his attention.

“There vous êtes!” Joséphine exclaimed when she spotted the twins, smiling broadly at them.

“Of course I’ve been here. Where else would I be? I was waiting for you since we were supposed to meet half an hour ago to work on that Charms homework,” Fred said annoyed. “Where were you?” he demanded.

Joséphine was startled by his response. Her smile faded. “Vous know where I was. I was in detention with Harry,” she said, beginning to get worked up.

“Detention was supposed to be over an hour ago!” Fred yelled standing up.

Joséphine could not understand what Fred’s problem was. She didn’t think he would be so mad because she was late to help with his homework.

“Professeur Donovan kept us longer. You want me to say ‘Sorry Professeur, Fred is waiting for me, I must be done with detention?” Joséphine was now utterly irritated, her French accent getting in the way of her words. If Fred hadn’t been upset he would have said it was so cute of her.

Fred didn’t know how to retort to her statement, and even if he had, Joséphine didn’t give him a change.

“Je ne sais pas pourquoi vous agissez comme ceci mais vous êtes un imbecile!” Joséphine screamed at him and stormed up to the girl’s dorms.

George began to laugh. “Did you catch that dear brother?” he asked Fred who stood watching after Joséphine. His smile faded as he saw Fred didn’t react the way he expected.

“I got the word imbecile, but that’s about it,” Fred said and walked away. George rolled his eyes and stood up to follow him.

“What’s wrong with Fred?” Harry asked not quite sure he understood what just happened.

“I think Fred is jealous,” Hermione said looking at Harry and biting her lip.

“Jealous!? Of me?” Harry exclaimed stunned, but he couldn’t help but blush. He remembered how he used to react to Joséphine when they first met. He sometimes still felt that weird feeling of wishing to hug her, and sometimes he caught Joséphine looking at him with a strange expression, almost as if she wished to be hugged. But it never happened anymore.

“Well, you did seem rather chummy with Joséphine when you entered,” Ron said not quite knowing what to think. Harry was his best mate, but he didn’t appreciate him making moves on the girl who Fred obviously fancied.

“What? That? She tripped! Just as we were coming in through the portrait hole! I simply helped her!” Harry said a bit defensive. True, he was really comfortable when Joséphine was around and they seemed to get along really well, but Harry had learned from early on that Joséphine fancied Fred not him, which made him wonder if they fancied each other why weren’t they together?

Harry’s mood was ruined and he didn’t feel like staying around for conversation. He left the common room and headed upstairs to his room. Harry went to bed earlier than usual.

****

Wednesday had been a rather boring day. It had rained all day and the students hadn’t been able to go outside for anything. Quidditch practice had been cancelled, so Harry, Ron and Hermione along with Dean, Seamus and Neville had spent all of their free time searching more information on the veil, and the Planes of Magic. They had now narrowed down the list to 25 Planes of Magic. It was tedious work to read through scroll after scroll about each Plane, and decipher if it was a hostile Plane to humans upon entry. It wasn’t until after dinner that the rain finally let up, and they had abandoned their search for tonight.

From his window, Harry had a great view of the grounds. He wished he could take a night stroll, get some fresh air and clear his head. His stomach grumbled. Maybe he should pay a visit to Dobby in the kitchen. Should he ask Ron to go with him? Harry had been so busy with homework and his extra time taken to do his search on information about the veil, the DA, Quidditch… Ron was usually present at most of those events, but he just hadn’t had a good chunk of time alone with him just to chat. He decided he would invite him and maybe Hermione too, and maybe they would sneak out to the kitchen and get a quick bite. He went for the door but it opened before he got there and Ron and Hermione entered.

Harry smiled and lifted up his invisibility cloak. “I was going to look for you and see if you were interested in ransacking the kitchen,” Harry grinned.

Hermione frowned automatically. “Harry I don’t….” Ron clamped a hand over her mouth.

“Absolutely,” Ron said and Hermione glared at him. She pushed his hand away; she fixed the both of them with a hard stare, then sighed and rolled her eyes.

“Oh, all right… but you do know that it is wrong, and to top if off we are both prefects,” she said to Ron.

“Oh, live a little Hermione,” Ron chided.

“I said I would go,” she said and motioned towards the invisibility cloak “Here, hand me that… I learned this new tricky spell today,”

Harry handed her the cloak. Hermione pointed her wand at it “ Exactus Entitas Replicatus Dyo

Harry and Ron watched amazed as two more cloaks appeared on Hermione’s hand.

“How do you know which one is mine?” Harry asked a bit nervous, all three looked the same to him.

“This one is yours… you can feel the difference,” she said and true, his felt a bit silkier than hers.

“These are a bit crude, but they will work. I haven’t quite figure out how to make the replicas permanent, but these will last for about forty-eight hours, I think.”

“This is cool. So if you ever make it permanent we can each have one?” Ron asked with excitement.

“Someday, hopefully. But they will only last as long as the original, so if anything happens to Harry’s cloak, ours would vanish,” she said and wrapped the cloak about herself. She was now only a floating head on the air. Ron quickly donned his. Harry put his on and pulled out the Marauder’s Map. “The coast is clear,” he said and the three of them made their way to the kitchen.

On their way back to the common room, Harry noticed that Hermione’s hair was visible.

“Hermione, psst…”

“What?”

“I think your spell is fading…” Harry said catching up to her. Hermione noticed it also.

“Ron?”

“What?”

“Yours isn’t fading,” Hermione said with a frown noticing that Ron was still invisible.

Harry muttered an obscenity.

“What?”

“Filch is heading this way,” he said as he noticed the custodian in his map.

“Oh no, he’ll spot me,” Hermione said in a panic.

“Here, hide under mine. We can both fit here,” Harry said and he enlarged his cloak and made it a bit bigger than normal size. Harry opened it in front for Hermione to get in. She hugged him by the waist, and pressed her head on his chest. Harry closed the cloak and pulled the hood over his head. The three of them pressed themselves against a dark corner of the corridor just as Filch rounded the corner. They could hear Filch muttering and grumbling as he neared. He didn’t see them and walked past. Soon the echoes of his footsteps disappeared.

Hermione listened to Harry’s heart. It was beating fast and his chest rose and fell fast as well. She inhaled deeply of his scent. He smelled like soap and a hint of cologne scent from his deodorant. She also smelled his masculine scent, and she involuntarily moved her face so her nose was pressed right against his chest and inhaled. Harry’s eyes widened in surprise. Is Hermione sniffing me? Was she?

Just then he seemed to realize that Hermione had her arms around his waist, her body pressed against him. This made him nervous. Hermione felt Harry’s heart began to beat wildly, and she realized what she was doing. She felt her face grow hot; she twisted her head again so that her cheek rested on his chest.

Harry didn’t know how to react, and Ron saved him from the awkward moment.

“He’s gone,” Ron murmured.

Hermione opened the front of the cloak and stepped out. She was glad that the corridor was mostly dark and that it hid her burning cheeks. Harry was looking at his map as if nothing had happened. Hermione sighed with relief. Maybe he hadn’t noticed.

“Ok, it’s safe to go back,” Harry declared and led the way with a quick step. Hermione replicated another cloak for herself from Harry’s and followed Harry, and Ron followed behind them.

They had almost run into Snape, and to Ron’s horror, his cloak was beginning to fade as well. He was lucky to be in the darkest part of the hallway at that moment, as Snape didn’t see him. By the time they entered the common room, patches of Ron’s bright red hair were visible, as well as other holes throughout the cloak.

They were laughing and catching their breath after their escape.

“That was close,” Hermione said with a smile. Harry nodded as he exhaled.

“Too close!” Ron replied and held the invisibility cloak that looked like swiss cheese. “Blimey Hermione, you’d think you could do a better job than this. Look at this thing, it’s a miracle Snape didn’t see me!” Ron said intending his poke to be in a fun way, but it didn’t sound like that at all. Harry was a bit caught off guard, and Hermione’s face fell entirely. She crossed her arms.

“For your information, that replicating spell is extremely difficult to do. And I wasn’t replicating tea cups. Why do you think invisibility cloaks are so rare and so damn expensive? I’d like to see you try it and make it last more than two minutes,” she said, obviously hurt by the jab.

“Hermione, I’m sure Ron didn’t…”

“No Harry, don’t make excuses for him. I’m sure he can make them himself…” Hermione said looking quite mad.

Ron’s face turned red and he scowled, “Oy, I didn’t… you don’t have to be so sensitive abou…”

“See that’s the thing… sometimes you can be a complete insensitive git!” Hermione said and made her way to her room.

“What the bloody hell is your problem!” Ron called after her.

“Ron, don’t…” Harry began but was silenced by Ron’s glare.

Breakfast was a horrible affair for Harry sitting between his two best friends which weren’t speaking to each other. Thinks didn’t improve at all throughout the day. They had Transfiguration, Potions, and lunch, and still those two weren’t speaking to each other. Finally, it took a plant strangling Ron to the point that he almost died before Madam Pomfrey was able to rescue him for him and Hermione to make peace. They were heading back to the common room talking about what they should do during the afternoon.

“Well, do you want to head to the Library and do some more research on the veil? I’ve caught up with my homework and have some free time,” Hermione asked.

“I wish I could, but I have the Transfiguration Essay to do. I haven’t even started…” Harry replied. He would much rather research the veil, than anything else. He cringed when he realized what he just said and to whom.

“Harry! That is due tomorrow! I thought you had started on it before now!” Hermione chided him, she the turned on Ron. “I suppose you haven’t started either.”

“I have,” he responded to her with an expression of taking offense.

“How many words?” Hermione asked crossing her arms.

Ron blushed and mumbled.

“Putting the topic on the essay does not really constitute starting!” she huffed. “Just don’t come to me for help at midnight tonight because I am not going to help you! You’ve had two weeks to write this!” Hermione yelled at them, turned, and headed away towards the library.

Ron looked at a loss. “Do you reckon she means it? She will give in, won’t she?” he asked Harry.

“I don’t know. She seemed really upset. Maybe we should not wait until very late to ask for her help. She might be in a better mood after dinner… oh no!”

“What?”

“Today is Thursday! Damn, I have detention with Professor Donovan. Ron, you’re going to have to deal with Hermione alone. I think we better head back to Gryffindor and get working on that assignment. I probably won’t have time to finish it!”

“Alone? I’ll have to ask for her help alone?” Ron paled.

“Come on, let’s get going,” Harry pulled him along and the two raced back to the tower.

“I am doomed. I can’t face Hermione alone!” Ron groaned as they reached the tower.

“Well, then let’s hope we can finish before dinner, and that way we won’t have to ask for help,” Harry said as he pulled out his books and set out.

“But I know I won’t be able to finish without her help,” Ron complained as he pulled out his parchment paper with the title on it. He sat on a chair and opened up his book. They both searched for the topic on the essay and soon each had a book morphed into the text they needed. Ron began to scribble away on his parchment, almost copying down the information, while Harry read before he wrote. Hermione didn’t return to the common room the rest of the afternoon, and they didn’t meet her again until dinner.

“So, are you still mad at us?” Harry asked tentatively as she sat down at the table.

“I wasn’t mad at you. I just get frustrated sometimes because no matter how many times I tell you to do your work you always put it off to the last minute. I really have no idea how you have managed to make it to sixth year,” Hermione said a bit serious.

“Because of you. If you didn’t help us, we’d still be repeating the second year,” Ron said feeling happy that Hermione did not seem upset with them anymore, and picking up a drumstick.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed, although he’d like to think that he did contribute something to his learning.

Hermione ignored that comment. “So, did you get it done?” she asked as she reached for a roll.

“Almost, I have only the conclusion left to do,” Harry said as he took a piece of chicken.

“Me too,” Ron agreed, although he had a bit more to do than Harry.

“Well then… I guess I better proofread them for you. Someone has to make sure you aren’t just making things up,” Hermione said and received very toothy grins from both Harry and Ron.

“Oh Thank Merlin!” Ron exclaimed “I thought I might have to resort to groveling,” he added.

Hermione couldn’t help but smile “Next time I might just wait long enough to see you do that.”

Ron pouted and Harry grinned, which earned him a spoonful of mashed potatoes in his face. Harry filled his spoon with peas to flick it towards Ron, but he ducked and Harry sent the peas flying down the table hitting Fred who was in conversation with another 7th year. Fred looked back, and George happened to be waving his own spoon threateningly towards Neville.

“Hey! George!”

A glob of pudding smacked George in the face when he turned towards Fred. Someone shouted ‘FOOD FIGHT!’

Harry was glad when Donovan came to take him and Joséphine to detention. No one would confess to the crime, and since all four houses had eventually been all part of the riot, all students present had to remain to clean the Great Hall by hand as punishment, since mass detentions were not logistically possible.


Chapter 28: Another Dream
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Chapter 28

Another Dream


“’Ello Harry, Ron, Hermione,” Joséphine greeted the trio. She had been sitting with a friend from Hufflepuff for the past few days during the meals. She was still not speaking to Fred, who at the moment was looking down the table longingly at them.

“Hello,” Hermione greeted; Harry and Ron voiced the same thing.

“I receeved a note from Professeur Donovan. He is not ‘ere tonight, mais Professeur De Valerio will ‘andle zee detention,” she said handing the note to Harry.

“Is she a… you know?” Ron asked the pair.

Harry shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. She’s never been around during our time with Professor Donovan. But she could be, I s’pose.”

“You could be having real detention for once,” Hermione commented seemingly to be worried, but the amusement was evident. Joséphine and Harry looked at each other for a moment. It hadn’t occurred to them.

“I guess we best be off. We’ll see you later,” Harry said and left the dinning hall with Joséphine. They reached the DADA classroom and found Professor De Valerio standing by the window looking out to the school grounds. She was wearing a snow-white hooded robe. The hood was lowered, gently resting on the top of her back. Her hair was tied in a tight bun, with metal chopsticks forming an ‘x’ on the back, securing it in place. Harry could make out white high-heeled boots under the hem of her cloak.

“Please close the door, Mr. Potter,” she said when they entered the room. Harry did as told and Professor De Valerio turned to face them. Her robe was open in front to reveal her signature skin tight leather outfit. Today it was white. Harry noticed she was not wearing any of her usual weapons.

“Thank you. Professor Donovan was called away this evening so he has asked me to handle your detention with him. I am a not a Mage, if you are wondering, so I will not be able to help you further your training in that area this evening. However, I do know a thing or two in armed combat, so I decided that tonight I will teach you of the different weapons available and a few handling techniques,” she said as she motioned to a large trunk and a crate that were standing on one end. Harry recognized the crate that Filch had dropped that first night when Professor De Valerio had arrived at school.

The Professor flicked her wand and opened the trunk. Harry and Joséphine stared at all of the weapons neatly arranged within.

“You may be wondering why would there be a need for weapons such as these when we have wands,” she said as she walked towards the trunk. She picked up a long, thin wooden stake. “The reason is that there are certain magical creatures that can not be defeated by use of magic alone. Take Vampires for example. The only way to truly kill a Vampire is through the use of a wooden or silver stake through the heart,” she said as she put the stake back. She picked up a small crossbow with a silver arrow nestled in the chamber. “Werewolves are other creatures that can not be killed by magic when they are transformed. As we all know, silver is deadly to them - do not be alarmed Mr. Potter, these arrows are meant for other, darker, more ancient werewolves that are no longer human, and every once in a while they break free of their designated territory. They can only be killed by a silver arrow, or with the use of silver bullets,” she said motioning to the assortment of guns she had in her repertoire. “These Muggle creations are very useful for such purposes,” she said and proceeded to explain each of the different weapons she had available and different creatures that could be killed by these weapons. Anything ranging from a Naga, to a Roc, to a Dead Knight, the list goes on .

“Excusez-moi Professeur, but why do you ‘ave many weapons?” Joséphine asked tentatively.

“If you haven’t guessed by now, I am a Creature Hunter,” she replied leaning back against the desk.

“You’re a what?” Harry asked puzzled.

“A Creature Hunter. I was working with Spain’s Department of Magical Creature Control and Regulation when Michael informed me his appointment to Hogwarts and his need for a substitute. But I mainly dealt with the dangerous and dark creatures that escaped or eluded Ministry Control. The majority of these can not be controlled by magic alone, and if they became a threat or injured anyone, my assignment was to bring them in at all costs or to terminate,” she explained. Harry noticed that she referred to Donovan by his first name, which made him think that they had known each other from before. He must trust her to let her know about their Mageabilities.

“Eet must be dangerous,” Joséphine exclaimed in awe.

“Perhaps… but maybe it’s not as dangerous as being a Dark Wizard hunter. Sometimes creatures can be more predictable than humans. But enough chit chat. Pick a weapon and we can get started.”

Joséphine had always found fascinating the pair of sais that Professor De Valerio carried with her. She spotted a pair in the trunk and picked them up. They were a little bit heavier than she had expected.

“Excellent choice. These are my favorite,” Lilian said with approval.

Harry was debating on whether to pick a whip or a sword. He smiled inwardly as an absurd picture entered his mind. He was wearing a white button up shirt, tattered and stained, with a pair of cargo pants, and some old dusty boots. A leather hat was on his head, and he had a whip in his hands. The Indiana Jones theme began to play in his head Harry Potter and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Harry couldn’t help himself when he began to laugh.

“What is so funny Mr. Potter?” De Valerio cocked her head and raised an eyebrow.

Harry tried to calm down, “I’m sorry Professor, just had an image of myself as Indiana Jones,” he said with a grin.

“Who?”

“Never mind. I think I’ll try this sword,” he said picking up the sword instead and unsheathed it.

“Have you handled a sword before? You seem very comfortable with it,” Professor De Valerio commented.

“Erm, once… in my second year.”

“Really? May I ask on what occasion?” she asked curious.

“Well, a possessed diary from Voldemort had released a Basilik that petrified several students, including Hermione, then the memory of Voldemort took Ginny Weasley so I went into the Chamber of Secrets and Fawkes, Dumbledore’s Phoenix, brought me the sorting hat which released the sword of Godric Gryffindor and I used it to kill the Basilisk,” Harry said in one breath.

“A Basilisk!!! The Chamber of Secrets!!! Gryffindor’s sword!!! Harry, do you have any idea how extraordinairy and unbelievable that sounds?” she asked with amazement.

“Yes,” Harry said nodding.

De Valerio smirked, “But I don’t doubt you. I’ve heard about the petrified students and the rumors that the Chamber of Secrets had been open. You must tell me of this tale; it sounds fascinating. And you faced a Basilisk alone! There have been very few persons ever known in history to have escaped alive once faced with a Basilik,” she said quite impressed. She was, after all, a Creature Hunter and had an extensive knowledge of magical creatures.

“Well, Fawkes helped me. He gauged the Basilisk’s eyes out, but the Basilisk tore a hole in my arm with its poisonous fang.”

“How did you ever survive!? A Basilisk’s poison is lethal!”

“Fawkes healed me,” Harry replied.

“Of course, the tears of a Phoenix. You are lucky,” De Valerio murmured.

“What ‘appened with Ginny?” Joséphine asked. She had been captivated by the conversation.

“Harry, why don’t you start from the beginning? I would really like to hear the whole story,” De Valerio said sitting on top of the desk.

“Uhm, well… all right,” Harry said and began with the story of Lucius Malfoy slipping the diary at the book shop. They didn’t practice anything the rest of the evening as it took Harry the whole time to give a detailed account of his second year. Joséphine watched Harry as he spoke. Her heart stammered as she learned of the dangers he had faced. She had seen a few of his memories the last time they had connected accidentally. Now some of them were making sense. Still, she could not believe how brave, and unimaginably curious this boy was. Nonetheless, she listened with rapt attention.

Just before curfew, Professor De Valerio sent them back to their common room. Harry and Joséphine ran into Malfoy as he was heading down to the dungeons. By the looks of him and his smell they realized that Filch had made Malfoy clean up the owlery. Harry couldn’t help but snigger.

“You find this funny, huh, scarface? I guess you won’t find it so funny when you get your girlfriend in trouble. If I was you, I’d watch out for her…” Malfoy sneered and Harry scowled.

“Harry is not mon boyfriend,” Joséphine exclaimed.

“Shut up you French bitch. I was not talking to you,” Malfoy spat at her.

“Don’t talk to her like that!” Harry jumped in defense of Joséphine.

Malfoy pulled out his wand, at the same moment that Harry did.

“I am on to you Potter. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that no one knows what you do for your detentions,” Malfoy seethed.

Harry tried to suppress his shock, and he managed it. “If you have a problem with my detention take it to Professor Donovan or Dumbledore,” Harry replied glaring at Malfoy.

“Is there a problem here?” Professor Lupin asked rounding the corner and coming upon Harry and Draco pointing wands at each other’s faces.

“I am watching you,” Draco said to Harry and turned around leaving the group.

Harry’s blood was boiling. Malfoy irritated him! Remus placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“Let it go Harry. That’s what he wants, for you to hex him. You know you will be the one to get in trouble.”

Harry nodded and pocketed his wand.

“You better hurry along. It is almost curfew and I know Minerva is walking around here somewhere,” Lupin said as he smiled at the pair. “Good night.”

“Good night Professor, and thanks,” Harry said as he and Joséphine began to run up the stairs, heading back to Gryffindor.

The pair entered the crowded common room and made their way where Ron and Ginny were playing a game of chess. Harry noticed Bianca was sitting on a chair next to Ginny watching the game, but she was almost unnoticeable. Bianca spotted Harry and waved shyly at him. Harry smiled at her. Hermione was nowhere in sight.

Harry and Joséphine made their way towards the group, when Fred intercepted them.

“Jo, do you have some time so we can talk?” He asked her. “Hi Harry.”

“Hey Fred.”

“I ‘ave work on Transfiguration, mais I can talk briefly,” she said a bit stiffly.

Harry left the pair alone and plopped on a couch next to Ron. “Where’s Hermione?” he asked.

“She is in her room reading some scrolls,” Ginny replied. “Aha! Check,” she exclaimed with glee.

Ron rolled his eyes and made his move “Sorry sis, check mate.”

“What!!!?”

“You should know better than try to beat me!” Ron said as his queen punched Ginny’s King and knocked his crown out.

“That’s my sixth game tonight,” Ron said triumphantly. “Harry, you up for a game?”

“No thanks. I already got beaten three times this afternoon.”

“I’ll play,” Bianca blurted.

They all turned to look at her. She hadn’t spoken a word all night and Ron had completely forgotten about her being there.

“Come on, I doubt a Malfoy has enough brains to make it five minutes,” Ron retorted annoyed.

Bianca’s little pale face turned red, but she stood up. “I bet I can beat you,” she said defiantly.

Ron laughed. “Yeah, right.”

“Afraid of a challenge?” she mocked him, her cheeks still pink. Ginny, and the rest, was a bit surprised by her confidence.

Ron scowled. “I’m not afraid. I was simply thinking of what I would do if I won.”

“You mean thinking what you would have to do when you lose,” Bianca replied with a sneer. She looked like her brother when she did that. Ron’s anger boiled.

“You want a challenge you little spoiled brat, you got it!” Ron screamed as he ordered his chess pieces to their places.

“What are you betting?” Ginny asked with excitement.

“If I win you will do anything I say! Like disappear or something!” Ron glared at Bianca.

“And if I win you promise you will do anything I say!” Bianca replied.

“Deal,” Ron spat before he thought about it, and shook her hand then let it got just as quick.

Bianca sat with a determined face. Ron had given her the white side, and she moved her pawn. Ron didn’t waste a second and made his move. He didn’t even tell his piece to move and simply picked it up and moved it himself. The little pawn was indignant. Students began to gather around as Ron and Bianca began to move pieces faster and faster as they slammed them. They didn’t even let the pieces move or beat each other as was part of the game. The chess pieces wriggled in their fingers and complained loudly when they were slammed. Harry looked back and forth and could not keep track of their movements.

Suddenly Ron pulled back with a look of pure shock and horror on his face. Bianca looked up. “Check mate,” she said slowly and gloating a little; the whole crowd gasped. Then there was silence, and only the complaining from the chess pieces could be heard.

Ron had never lost a game to anyone in the six years he had been here. Not even to that Ravenclaw kid that had bragged about his chess skills. Ron had even beaten Professor Dumbledore in a game of chess during a holiday break a few years ago. This was unprecedented.

“How?” Ron asked with disbelief and standing up. “I can’t believe I lost! And to a Malfoy!” Ron exclaimed still in shock.

“Bianca, you did it!!!” Ginny was the first to react from the onlookers, and jumped up and down.

“Blimey Ginny, I didn’t know you sided with her!” Ron scowled.

“Oh give it up, it’s about time someone beat you in that game!” Ginny exclaimed. Harry could still not believe it. The crowd began to murmur and talk about what they had just seen as they dispersed.

Bianca blushed. “I only won because you were too hasty.”

“What do you mean?” Ron asked skeptical, with a scowl still on his face.

“Uhm, you moved your bishop too early,” she said as she reorganized the board to a few steps before she had won. “If you would have moved your knight here, I would have been trapped.” She showed him.

“How did I miss that!?” Ron fumed. “But you won, fair and square I guess,” he said looking at Bianca with a sense of respect. “You know, I’ve never played a game like that since granddad died. He’s the one who taught me and game my chess set,” Ron admitted sitting back down.

The crowd dispersed and it was only Harry, Bianca, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione. She had come out when she had heard the commotion and had found a crowd cheering on Ron (everyone else despised Malfoy). Harry, Ginny and Hermione looked at each other in wonder.

Bianca smiled, “My granddad was the one who taught me too. He gave me my first chess set too. Can I show it to you?” she asked hopeful.

“Sure,” Ron shrugged although he seemed to notice who he was talking to.

Bianca raced up the steps and came back within minutes. She was carrying a medium sized case of gold. Ron stared at the box. She opened the box to reveal a set of chess pieces made from black onyx stone, and white marble. The King and Queen of each color sported real gold crowns, while the knights rode horses of silver. The pieces blocked the light out with their tiny hands and grumbled at the brightness.

“I haven’t played with this set since I left granddad’s house. He was the only one that would play with me,” she said as sadness entered her eyes.

Ginny felt pity for her. “Was he your father’s dad?” she asked feeling nostalgic too as she remembered her grandparents.

“O no! No. Grandfather Malfoy barely acknowledges that I existed. No, he was my mom’s dad. Granddad Alph,” she said remembering him.

“Alphard Black?” Harry asked curious.

“Yes, you know of him?” she replied surprised.

“Sirius told me about him,” Harry replied remembering the time him and Sirius had seen the Black Family tree on the tapestry.

“Yes, my granddad was Sirius’ uncle. I’m really sorry about what happened to him.”

“You knew him?”

“No, but I heard about him from my aunt Andromeda,”

“I thought your family did not speak to the Tonks family,” Hermione wondered.

“Well, I lived in granddad Alph’s house until about a year ago. Aunt Andromeda came to visit a lot.”

“Didn’t Alphard Black die a long time ago? Before you were born?” Ron blurted out interrupting Harry. Bianca blushed.

“Y-yes,” she stammered.

“Bianca what is wrong?? Ginny asked seeing that she was close to tears.

“I… I…” Bianca stuttered then ran away, up the steps and into her dormitory room.

The four remaining students looked at each other.

“What the bloody hell was that about?” Ron asked perplexed.

“I don’t know. Maybe I should go talk to her,” Ginny said standing up.

“Better give her some time. Who knows what she didn’t want to talk about,” Hermione advised.

“It’s obvious that someone else must have given her that chess set. She said her grandfather had given it to her, but he was dead before she was b…”

“Excuse me? Excuse me? Since none of you seemed interested in playing, would you mind and close the box?” The white queen from Bianca’s set interrupted.

“Oh, right. Sorry” Harry apologized and closed the case.

“Here. I can keep that and give it to her,” Ginny said and stood up. “I am going to bed. I have potions first thing in the morning. Good night.”

“Good night.” The trio replied.

“Hey Ginny! Wait!”

Ron frowned when he saw Dean Thomas catching up with Ginny. He whispered something in her ear, and Ginny giggled. She gave him a quick kiss on the lips and went up the staircase to the girls’ dormitory.

“I’d appreciate it if you would not snog my sister in front of me!” Ron growled at Dean as he approached.

“That was not snogging!” Dean exclaimed at the overprotective brother. “It was a quick kiss goodnight. You’ve been hogging her all to yourself all night. I just wanted to say goodnight. Sheesh!” Dean replied as he plopped on a chair.

“Still, I don’t want to catch you snogging with her!” Ron glared and crossed his arms.

“Fine, we will just have to go into closets and dark places to snog,” Dean retorted. Ron’s face paled, and then quickly contorted to rage. Dean quickly added, “I’m just kidding. Calm down Ron. I respect your sister. I wouldn’t do anything that you wouldn’t want to do with a girlfriend.”

Ron relaxed a bit at Dean’s words, and then he couldn’t help himself when he turned a dark shade of red.

“Blimey,” Dean exclaimed with mouth open.

“Ron! Why are you so red?” Then it dawned on her. Her eyes widened, “Oh!” Hermione exclaimed her eyebrows rising in surprise. Her hand went to cover her open mouth, “RON!”

“That is exactly why he doesn’t trust you Dean!” Harry managed to say amidst guffaws.

“Shut up!” Ron yelled and left the group.

“What’s wrong with him?” George asked now joining the group. Dean quickly explained expecting to see George crack up. Instead George narrowed his eyes at him. Dean quickly lost his laugh.

“You better have a cleaner mind than my dear brother, or else!” George threatened.

“I swear I haven’t done anything!” Dean exclaimed with fear. “I meant it when I said that I respect Ginny, besides even if I wanted to, she’d kill me first…”

“Uh oh,” Harry exclaimed looking at George. “That was the wrong thing to say.”

“Run Dean!” Hermione shouted at the same time. Dean jumped over the couch as George went to grab him. He ran up the steps dodging a few spells with a furious George following behind.

I didn’t mean it like that!

Come back here! I just want to make sure you can’t do anything even if you wanted to!

“Nooo, Arrrgh!

Poor Dean endured the wrath of the Weasley twins. The school did get a good laugh at Dean’s expense for a few weeks. It all came to a screeching halt once Ginny finally learned the truth and ended up hexing Fred with her famous Bat-Boogie hex. Hermione had had no choice but to deduct five points from Ginny, but Ginny simply grinned and understood. No hard feelings.

****
Harry, Ron and the Quidditch team came back from practice late Friday night.

“I’m going straight to bed. I’ll work on Defense Against the Dark Arts and Transfiguration tomorrow.” Harry said as they entered the tower.

“Yeah, me too,” Ron agreed.

Harry hung his broom above his head, changed into his pyjamas and crawled into bed. He fell asleep within an instant.

Harry’s dreams were pleasant. He dreamt that he was in Hogsmeade and Veronica was with him. The day was beautiful with the blue sky littered with white puffy clouds. The sun was bright in the late afternoon as it was setting. The streets of Hogsmeade were full of happy couples enjoying a stroll through the main district.

“I’ve really missed you Harry” Veronica said embracing him around the waist. Harry had one arm around her shoulders as they walked.

“I’ve missed you too. I’ve been writing you everyday for the last week. I am glad you could come” he said and kissed the top of her head.

Veronica stopped and turned to face him, her arms still around his waist. Now Harry placed his arms around her waist.

“I wouldn’t have missed this opportunity to see you for the world,” she smiled at him.

Harry tilted her chin with his fingers and lowered his head to take her lips in his. They kissed for a long time in the middle of the street not caring about anyone or anything. Veronica was beaming when they parted. Harry felt his chest swell with emotion.

“Vero, I l…”

“Oh look! It’s those flavored beans!” Veronica exclaimed as she looked past Harry. She rushed to the burlap sack just outside the candy shop full of the little candies. She picked one up. “What do you think this pink one is?” she asked as she sniffed it.

Harry frowned. He was about to tell her that he loved her, but she had avoided his gaze. “I don’t know. Last pink one I tried was not very pleasant,” Harry cautioned.

Veronica popped it in her mouth. She grinned “Watermelon. That’s my favorite sweet flavor. Here try one,” she offered a red one to Harry.

Harry looked at the red colored bean. He didn’t want to eat it, but Vero encouraged him. He shrugged. The moment he bit into it he felt surge of metallic flavored liquid that began to pour into his mouth. He coughed up the fluid that was choking him. His eyes widened as he saw that he was spitting blood. Harry tried to take a breath but he couldn’t. He bent over again as he vomited more blood. It was burning his throat. Harry coughed. “Vero… help…” he managed to say and when he looked up he saw that Vero was gone. He was no longer in Hogsmeade, instead he was back in that same cavernous room that he had seen Pettigrew treat Voldemort’s injuries. Harry wiped his mouth and saw his hand stained red, his clothes were stained with blood.

“So pleased you can join me Harry. I was beginning to miss your company,” Harry felt his own lips move, but the voice was Voldemort’s as he hissed. Harry walked up to a seat and sat down. Harry wanted to move, but he couldn’t.

“Since you have graced me with your presence, I thought it appropriate to have a talk with you. After all, we almost became family…” Harry’s own hand moved against his will and motioned towards the door. He saw as Peter came in dragging a young woman. She was crying. It was Veronica!

“No more, please!” Veronica pleaded.

“No! Let her go” Harry’s mind screamed at Voldemort. He felt his mouth laugh with that maniacal laugh, and Veronica cowered.

“But I just finally found my long lost daughter… and all thanks to you Potter,” Voldemort spat as he got up and walked towards Veronica. “But it is most unfortunate that she can’t be allowed to live. She was never supposed to live,” Voldemort sneered and with a quick motion pointed his wand at Veronica who was struggling to get free.

“Father….”

Immense hatred rose within Harry as that word seemed to penetrate through Voldemort. Harry’s hand slapped Veronica hard across the face. She whimpered in pain. Harry fought to escape Voldemort. This isn’t real. It’s another dream… just like Sirius’.

“Oh is it now?”

Pettigrew seemed to be cowering at Voldemort’s madness. He was as if speaking with someone. Still, he held the girl in his arms, who was crying and had ceased struggling.

“It’s time for my dear daughter to die,” Voldemort said lifting the girl’s face to meet him. He forced her to look into his eyes. Veronica was looking with terror straight at Harry. She was fearful, then seemed confused… then she was shocked. She saw him! Not Voldemort, him!

“Potter,” she snarled in shock and Voldemort jerked back stunned, he raised his wand and screamed, “AVADA KEDAVRA.”

“My…!” Veronica’s gasp of surprise was cut short as the jet of green light impacted her in the chest. Veronica jerked back and with a blank look of surprise she slumped and Peter dropped her. Her eyes were lifelessly staring at him.

“NOOOOOOOO! YOU BASTARD!” Voldemort screamed, making Peter jump startled. Voldemort was caught off guard by Harry’s powerful emotion. This time he had taken precautions to avoid the same incident as last time, but it was more than he could bear. The boy had overpowered him momentarily. “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!!!” Harry struggled with whatever force was keeping him motionless within Voldemort’s mind, and felt himself taking control of Voldemort’s body even though the pain was more than he could bear…

Voldemort fought against Harry taking possession of him, and fell to his knees. He said through gritted teeth, “Don’t be a fool, boy. You will be the one to meet your end at my hand. But first, I will enjoy killing every one of your precious friends starting with that fool of a Weasley and the Mudblood!”

Peter backed away from Voldemort.

Voldemort was struggling to get up, beginning to overpower Harry once more. Harry felt a surge of power and an inner strength and felt his bonds brake loose. It was as if someone was giving him their magical energy. Harry forced Voldemort’s head to look up at Peter Pettigrew. “I will not forget this Peter!” Voldemort screamed at Peter, and raised his wand. Peter’s eyes grew wide and he jumped back. Voldemort’s eyes had turned a vivid shade of green. Suddenly they flickered, and the red slits re-appeared. Harry struggled one last time to make Voldemort move.

“MASTER!” Peter screamed in fear, and before everything went dark, Harry glimpsed at the spot where Veronica lay, but her body was no longer there. Instead Bellatrix Lestrange was sprawled on the floor. A black mist seemed to envelop Harry, and everything went dark.

Voldemort stood in front of Harry now against a pitch blackness, he seemed surprised, but he recovered quickly and raised his wand. It was only then that Harry realized that they were facing each other, and he was no longer in Voldemort’s body. He tried to dodge away from Voldemort.

—Crucio—

Harry didn’t have time to dodge the curse and the spell caught him. He fell down wriggling with agony.

—Give up Potter, and I will kill you painlessly—

NO

—CRUCIO!—


AAAAARRGGHHH


Harry wriggled in pain. He was trying to block the mental connection, but he was becoming weakened as Voldemort hit him again with the Cruciatius curse. Harry felt that he was barely holding onto consciousness.

—It’s your turn to die! AVADA K— Voldemort didn’t finish the spell as a jet of red light impaled him in the chest and he was sent soaring into the darkness. He reappeared again.

—You’re dead! — He screamed with fury at someone. Harry opened his eyes to see a blurry vision of a woman as she stood before him protecting him from Voldemort. She held her wand pointed at Voldemort. Harry could see her profile. Her delicate pale skin, her auburn red hair, and he saw her eyes. Those sparkling almond shaped green eyes.

Mum Harry whispered.

“Not Harry… have mercy…”

“Let ‘im go.”

“Stand aside silly girl!”

—You will not save him this time! — Voldemort pointed his wand at Lily.

Lily extended her arms towards Voldemort and he screamed in agony. Suddenly, walls rose out of nowhere and formed a cube around them, separating Voldemort from Harry and his mother.

Lily turned to Harry and Harry raised a hand trying to reach her. She was smiling at him; she looked just as she had in the Mirror of Erised. The image floated in front of him then dispersed as a girl with blond hair, blue eyes knelt next to him. She wasn’t smiling, a look of pure terror was in the face that seemed unfamiliar to Harry.

“Harry! Wake up!” Lily’s voice spoke with urgency in the background.

“Wake up! Eet’s too strong… he will kill us both! You must… wake up! I can not ‘old the barrier for long…

The walls began to crumble around them. Voldemort laughed with a maniacal laugh.

Harry saw a flash of green light.


“MUM!” Harry bolted in his bed. He was drenched in sweat and he felt his body writhe with agony. He realized then that he was holding tightly onto a pair of hands that were clutching him almost painfully, and then whoever it was holding him went limp. He was breathing hard as he recognized Joséphine unconscious on his bed. It was her hands who had been grabbing his face and head, but she had passed out as soon as he woke up. He recognized her voice now, in his dream urging him to wake up.

“Harry!?” Ron called for him as he opened the curtains from the opposite side. He stared at Harry and at an unconscious Joséphine.

“Help…!” Harry called as he tried to pull her up, but he screamed involuntarily. It hurt to move. Just then Ron noticed the blood coming from Harry’s nose, his mouth and his ears. By now, Dean, Seamus and Neville had woken up.

“What the bloody hell!?” Seamus cursed as he lit his wand and saw what was happening on Harry’s bed.

“What happened?” Neville said reaching for Joséphine as Harry let go of her hands and she began to slip off the bed. Harry’s head began to swim in dizzying spots. He felt like he was losing his hold on consciousness.

“Ron… Dumbledore… Voldemort killed Veronic…” Harry fell back into his pillow unconscious.

****

Harry woke up into the bright light of the Hospital wing. He blinked a few times and reached for his glasses on the nightstand. His gaze focused on the smiling face of the Headmaster. He seemed relieved to see Harry awake.

“Professor…” Harry began to try and get up.

Professor Dumbledore gently prevented him from getting up, “it will best if you rest Harry. There is plenty of time to speak when you feel better.”

Harry nodded but his eyes began to tear up as he remembered what Voldemort had done. “He… he killed her.”

“No Harry, it was just another dream. Veronica is safe.”

“But… how?” Harry asked, hope showing on his face. He was afraid to believe it was true.

“I did not send Veronica back without pre-cautions. I had set up an emergency transatlantic Portkey a few months ago to use in the event that Voldemort had discovered Veronica’s identity. Death Eaters attacked the school on Friday night. Veronica is a clever girl. When she realized that the school was under attack, she knew they had come for her. She wasn’t able to reach the designated pick up point where Director Hernandez waited with the Portkey. The Director was killed and she was almost apprehended. But Muluc came to her and side-along Apparated safely to my office. I was rather surprised to see her arrive in such a fashion. I had not counted on the loyalty and abilities of her Macaw. I am sure Voldemort had counted on his Death Eater’s success and that Veronica would be dead by the end of the night, so he acted upon his plan without waiting to know if she was dead, before he invaded your mind.” Dumbledore finished.

“She’s here?” Harry said with joy and relief written all over his face.

“Yes, she just left a few moments before you woke up. I told her I would send word if you woke up. She kept a vigil all day yesterday, and I finally persuaded her to take some rest,”

“What day is it?” Harry asked blinking.

“It is Sunday, the sixth of October,” Dumbledore replied.

Harry nodded. He had been unconscious for two days. “Do you know what happened to me?” Harry asked as he tentatively tried to move his muscles. They felt cramped. It also felt as if the insides of his body had been stirred with an electric beater, and his nerves tingled making some muscles twitch.

Dumbledore’s smile faltered and he became grim. “You were hit by the Cruciatius curse many times,”

“But how? I never left my room,” Harry inquired not understanding.

“The Cruciatius curse does not really do any direct physical damage. The effect of Crucio is to make your brain believe that you are feeling that pain, and the stabbing pain that you feel is a reaction caused on your nervous system. It is a very powerful spell of mind control. The mind is a powerful thing Harry, and it is our own bodies that cause the damage, because our brain reacts to that stimulation. When Voldemort invades your mind, he is able to influence your subconscious. He doesn’t have to hit you with the curse physically, but he can make your brain believe it. It is the reason why your nightmares feel so real.”

Harry nodded. He looked up to the Professor when he remembered, “Joséphine! I head her voice… she was on my bed when I woke up… I think it’s because of her that I woke up when I did,” Harry exclaimed worried.

Dumbledore again nodded with a grim expression. He looked towards the bed next to Harry’s. Harry turned to see Joséphine lying in the hospital bed. She had some weird magical machines hooked up to her.

Harry gasped “What happened? Is she going to be all right?” He knew that Joséphine had saved his life by severing the connection between him and Voldemort. How she did it, he didn’t know. She must have used that strange connection that happened between her and him when they touched.

“We don’t know. She was unconscious when she arrived here. This morning she went into cardiac arrest and lapsed into a coma. We will be transporting her to St. Mungo’s tonight. It appears that she suffered the effects of the Cruciatius curse along with you. She also did something dangerous. She channeled her own magical energy onto you, almost all of it. I don’t know how she knew of what was happening with you, but she used her MageAbility and tried to use psionic magic to help you. But she is inexperienced. It may well cost her life,” Dumbledore explained, the grim expression darkening upon his face. “I’ve sent word to Professor Donovan to return as soon as possible. He may shed some light into what happened and perhaps help us save her.”

“Jo…” Harry whispered. He felt horrible inside. This was his fault. She had saved him… and they even didn’t know each other that well, and he couldn’t do the same for her. He somehow felt like something was missing, not seeing a smile on her face. Then it hit him, and made him worry even more, the fact that he could not feel the sensations or her presence whenever they were near each others. Please don’t die. “Can they save her? At St. Mungo’s?”

“We don’t know. The odds are against her,” Dumbledore replied, the twinkle in his eyes was lost.

At the moment Madam Pomfrey approached them. “I’m sorry Albus, but Harry needs to rest,” she said as she uncorked a bottle filled with a neon green liquid.
“Drink this Harry.” She placed the liquid to his lips and Harry felt a cool sensation glide down his throat. In a matter of seconds he began to feel drowsy. He closed his eyes but didn’t fall asleep immediately.

Harry heard unfamiliar voices in the room. He couldn’t catch all they were saying. It seemed they were examining Joséphine.

”… her prognosis is not good Headmaster…”

“Is there anything that can be done?”

“I am afraid that our options are limited. We will take her to the hospital for observation, and if the trip doesn’t kill her, we will do what we can… but almost everything that can be done has been done…”


Dumbledore looked down to Joséphine before she was taken away by the Mediwitches from St. Mungos. He sighed and looked towards the window when the flutter of wings caught his attention; he stepped towards the window and looked out. He scanned the skies and sighed again when a white pigeon landed on the sill. He pulled a few seeds from the pocket of his robes and fed the pigeon. He hoped this was a good omen for Joséphine.

****

The next day Harry was released from the Hospital Wing, but he was excused from attending classes that day and told to rest. He slept most of the day and when he was awake, he appeared to be confused. He complained of a headache, and he also felt very weird. He felt stuffy and at moments felt weird sensations all over his body.

Harry sat down on the dinner table that evening joining his classmates. He received many greetings and expressions of well wishes and students said they were glad to see him up. There was, of course, plenty of taunting from Malfoy and his coons.

“Hey Harry. Feeling any better?” Hermione asked with worry.

“A little. At least I am somewhat hungry. Food smells good,” he said as he began to fill his plate with food. “But this weird headache won’t go away. Did you guys hear any news on Joséphine’s condition?” He hadn’t been able to think of anything else when he was awake.

Hermione shook her head “Professor Dumbledore told us her condition has not improved. He’s gone now, probably to see her,” she replied grimly. Harry looked up to the head table and noticed that Dumbledore’s chair was empty.

“Hey,” someone spoke behind Harry. Harry turned around and smiled at Veronica.

He made room for her to sit next to him. Veronica hugged him tightly.

“It is good to see you up and about,” she said genuinely happy to see him all right.

“Yeah, I am a bit better,” he said and his chest swelled up with emotion and he focused on her… he thought she had died. He had been racked with guilt the moment he woke up. He believed he had been responsible for another death, just because he was alive, just because she was close to him. He thought she was gone, but here she was in front of him. The two looked at each other for a moment, speaking without words. They were interrupted by someone clearing his throat.

“So, Hermione…” Ron began breaking the spell between Harry and Veronica. Harry smiled at her and reached for her hand. They turned to pay attention at Ron and Hermione’s conversation that soon turned into an argument.

Harry ignored them then, and turned to Vero.

“How was your first day of class?” He asked as she reached for a pastry. The sight of the pastry made Harry feel disgusted, as if he loathed them. It was weird because Harry loved treacle tart. But he masked and ignored this feeling.

“It was fun. I really liked the DADA Professor. She is much better than mine was back at IMHEMCA,” she answered.

“Well, she is actually just taking over for a few lessons. We have two DADA Professors, but Professor Donovan is away on Ministry business.”

“That is what Cho said.”

“Cho?” Harry asked as he felt his stomach give a jolt.

“Yes, we pretty much have the same schedule of classes. I sat with her through all of my classes today. She is a really nice girl. She’s been showing me around the castle grounds,” she replied taking a bite of the tart.

Harry felt nauseated for a second at the sight of her taking a bite. What the hell’s wrong with me? It didn’t help that at the same time he felt very weird thinking of his current girlfriend making buddies with his ex-girlfriend.

“So, it is true that you went out with her last year?” she asked nonchalantly. Harry almost chocked on his pumpkin juice.

“What!?” he blurted caught off guard.

“We started talking about school, and somehow the topic changed to you and she mentioned that she had gone on a date with you, and how disastrous it turned out, I don’t think she realized that I’m with you then, but now she knows. That’s all,” she said and smiled. “I’m not jealous. I swear.” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “I have to get going. I have to meet with Professor McGonagall to catch up on a whole month worth of assignments that I have to do. I’ll be in the library until late so if you feel up to it, maybe I’ll see you tonight,” she said and stood up.

“Maybe. I am feeling a bit weird still so I may go to bed early. I’ll probably just see you tomorrow,” he said and she smiled at him. She bent down and kissed him on the lips. “See you tomorrow then,” she said and waved goodbye to the rest of the Gryffindors and headed back to her seat next to Cho in the Ravenclaw table to pick up her things then left the Great Hall. Harry had thought that she would end up in Slytherin being Voldemort’s daughter. But her mum had been a Ravenclaw.

Seamus whistled when Veronica had left. “When I heard that she was your girlfriend I didn’t believe it. She is gorgeous Harry,” he said and clapped Harry on the shoulder as he took the spot previously vacated by Vero.

“Where did you meet her?” Seamus asked.

“I met her this summer while she was on vacation here. She went back to her home country to school, but transferred here just this weekend,” Harry replied. Her identity was to remain a secret.

“Must have missed you terribly to move here!” Seamus replied. “What’s with all the foreigners anyway?” he asked.

Harry forced a grin and shrugged. Dean, Parvati and Seamus began to enumerate the people in school from different countries.

Harry focused on his meal and looked down at his plate full of food and felt ravenous all of the sudden. He was about to take a bite when something really strange happened.

“Eww… disgusting,” he dropped his fork before he even took a bite.

Ron and Hermione turned to him and were looking at him as if he grew a second head.

Harry picked up his fork as if nothing had happened although he seemed a bit confused. He took a bite and began to chew.

“What?” He asked the pair watching him.

“Ahm, nothing,” Ron replied and proceeded to eat, and Hermione returned to read her book, but kept glancing at him.

Harry took another bite of his food, and then seemed to gag and spit it back on his plate.

“How can anyone eat this!?” he exclaimed and pushed the plate back and the food vanished. Ron and Hermione were staring at him, others around him turned to look at him as well. There was a different quality to his voice and the way he spoke. Harry blinked twice and was startled.

“Hey, what happened to my food?” he looked befuddled and looked about to see who was pulling a prank on him. Ron and Hermione and the others thought that Harry had fallen off his rocker.

“Are you all right mate?” Ron asked worriedly.

“Yes, I’m fine and starving but my food disappeared!” Harry said as he began to pile his plate with food again. Suddenly he lost his appetite, seemed to become a bit pale and began to sweat. He felt very uncomfortable, and he felt as if his clothes were too tight. His head began to pound.

“Harry you don’t look too good,” Hermione said standing up.

“I don’t feel so good all of the sudden. I think I better go lay down. Maybe I should have stayed in bed,” he said as he got up.

“We’ll go with you,” Ron offered and Hermione stuffed her book into her bag and followed after Harry. “You sure you don’t want to go to see Madam…”

“No! I’ve had enough of Hospital Wings…”

They accompanied Harry to his room and Harry began to see spots swimming in front of him. He seemed to fall asleep mid air towards the bed. Ron and Hermione took his shoes off and covered him.

They closed the door. “Do you reckon we ought to get Dumbledore? He didn’t look good,” Ron expressed his concern.

“I am afraid that last dream with Voldemort and the connection with Joséphine might have hurt his mind, or brain… but yes, I do think that Dumbledore needs to kn…” Her sentence was cut short as they heard Harry, high-pitched and frightened, scream.

~*~*~*~*~*~
A/N: Thank you for reading this far! I want to ask you for a moment of your time. I would love to read your comments on the story line/plot so far. Also, I'd like to know if you think my new characters are believable and if they fit with canon characters. What do you think of my take on how the canon characters behave? Any criticism to help me improve my writing is dearly appreciated. TTFN Perseias

Chapter 29: Inner Connection
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Chapter 29

Inner Connection


Joséphine stirred and tried to get her bearings. She couldn’t recollect what happened or where she was except for a few hazy pictures of being in several parts of the school, but she had no sense of time. She remembered the nightmare she had of hearing Harry screaming in agony, and the dark maniacal voice of Voldemort that she had heard before from Harry’s memories. But this had been different. As soon as she had woken, she sensed Harry’s erratic bursts of magic and she had run to his room to wake him. She had touched his cheek and instantly she’d been drawn into Harry’s nightmare.

She tried to help, and the last thing she could remember clearly was Harry opening his eyes. She had whirled around to see a bolt of green light impact her as Harry pulled them both awake. Now, she had woken up to a dark room and squinted and rubbed her eyes. She realized then that something felt off. Joséphine opened her eyes and stared at her hands and could barely focus on them. Something compelled her to reach to the bedside table for her glasses. Glasses? She didn’t wear glasses Nonetheless, she placed a pair of glasses on her face. Her hands looked so different. She sat up and examined her hands then she noticed something else. Her chest was flat! She palpated her breasts and instead of the soft curves of her small breasts, her chest was flat and her muscles taut. Only then, she realized that she was wearing a boy’s uniform, and then she felt something really strange and unfamiliar between her legs. Without thinking she automatically reached for the bump in her pants. Her hand jerked back, she was stunned. Qu’est-ce que c’est!? She jumped from the bed and raced to a mirror, and noticed in passing that she was in the boys’ dormitory and not her own.

Mon dieu! Ceci ne peut pas se produire! Ceci ne peut pas être vrai!” She stopped in front of the mirror, but instead of her reflection she stared at the pair of green eyes behind round rimmed glasses staring right back at her, a lightning bolt scar was on her forehead. She screamed in horror, “Ce n’est pas possible!”

“Harry, are you alright?” Ron asked seeing Harry looking horrified and frightened. But what surprised him was that Harry had been speaking in French.

“Je ne suis pas Harry! Eet’s me! Joséphine!” Harry exclaimed with a perfect imitation of Joséphine’s accent. His voice was even higher pitched than normal, but it was his voice.

Hermione and Ron were horrified. Harry had gone mad!

“WHAT?” They both exclaimed in unison.

“I don’t know ‘ow eet ‘appen, but I am trapped in Harry’s body,” Joséphine gushed frantically.

“Oh my God!” Hermione exclaimed as it dawned on her that it wasn’t Harry barking mad. “It is you in there!”

Harry nodded.

“How can that be possible? And where is Harry?” Ron asked bewildered.

“Ow, my head. Hermione do you have a potion or something for this headache?” Harry shook his head as if to rid himself of the unpleasantness and asked in his normal voice.

“Harry?”

Harry looked up to them. “Yes?” he noticed their bewildered looks. Hermione grabbed him by the hand and began to drag him. “We’re going to Dumbledore’s right now.”

“What? Why? Wait a minute!” Harry pulled his hand back.

“Harry, listen to me. When Joséphine tried to transfer her magical energy into you, something must have happened and she transferred herself, her soul, her presence or something… but she is trapped inside of you!”

“Do you have any idea how crazy that sounds?!” Harry exclaimed.

“I know, but think about it. You’ve been feeling really weird and weird things keep happening. I was worried that you might have received some sort of brain damage because you seemed confused, then you would exclaim something in French, and then be back to normal. I know you’ve felt her presence… you said so yesterday. Just now you went to bed, and then you got up and screamed and told us you were Joséphine!”

“I did?”

Ron nodded in affirmative.

“Dumbledore needs to know… if Joséphine is trapped inside your body, then we have to do something,” Hermione said and began to drag him again. Harry followed her completely shocked.

“’Ermione? Where are wee going?” Harry’s voice became high pitched and the French accent returned.

“To see Dumbledore. I’ve explained things to Harry already… you are trapped in Harry’s body with him and you are flipping back and forth between the two and we need to…”

“I can walk by myself,” Harry said jerking his hand away from Hermione.

“Sorry, I was trying to explain things to Jo,” Hermione said and Harry hurried to catch up to her. Ron was walking behind them.

“Really?” He walked next to her and just couldn’t believe that he would blank out and she would take over. He was not aware of her at all. They reached the office. “Smarties,” Harry exclaimed and the trio raced up the escalating steps.

The door to the office was open and Dumbledore was facing the windows, looking out to the grounds. He turned around to face them, a bit surprised to see them. Hermione began to speak really fast, while Harry seemed to be lost in concentration. Dumbledore asked her to slow down and made them take a seat. Hermione began explaining things and Dumbledore’s eyebrows rose into his forehead. He looked at Harry.

“Is this true?”

Harry nodded confirming certain parts of Hermione’s story. After all, he wasn’t completely aware of Joséphine within him.

“What do we do, Professor?” Hermione asked fidgeting with her hands in worry.

Dumbledore formed a steeple with his hands and lowered his head a little, the tip of his index fingers almost touching his lips. The trio stayed quiet while Dumbledore seemed to think.

“This situation is unusual. We must proceed with caution yet I fear that we must act at once. If what you say is true, that Miss Bellow is indeed within Harry’s being and the fact that she is now surfacing completely taking over Harry’s body and mind, it may be potentially serious in which both her and Harry will be hurt permanently…” Dumbledore began in seriousness and Hermione gasped a little with horror. She looked like her suspicions were being confirmed.

“How do we reverse it?” Harry asked frowning.

“First, I believe we must learn more about how this is possible before we proceed. I also believe that this is closely related to your Mageabilities and that Professor Donovan might be able to share some light on this incident. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate him. The Ministry is unwilling to reveal his location to me, and all forms of communication attempts have failed,” Dumbledore said, clearly disturbed by this.

“When is he supposed to be back?” Ron asked.

“Not for another week.” None of them seemed to think that it would be a good idea to wait that long.

“Harry I want you to try and think of every detail of your dream and Joséphine’s intervention. It might shed some clues,” Dumbledore said. Harry nodded and began to recollect everything he could.

Hermione had hoped that Joséphine would surface again so they could ask her directly what she knew… but she didn’t.

Dumbledore paced in front of his desk. He turned towards Harry. “Harry, would you mind if I try something?”

“No Professor,” Harry said and Dumbledore pulled out his wand.

“Legilimens,” Dumbledore muttered softly and tried to bypass Harry’s mind searching for Joséphine, but he was unable to find her. He broke the mind connection.

“Mmmh.”

“What?” Hermione said unable to help herself.

“It appears that Miss Bellow is not part of Harry’s consciousness. Are you sure she is within him?” he asked again. So far he hadn’t really seen proof of her presence within Harry’s being, yet he believed them wholeheartedly.

“Yes, Professor… but we don’t know what causes them to flip back and forth. It seems that while one is surfaced, they are not aware of the other,” Hermione offered.

Dumbledore contemplated this new information and the trio remained silent.

“Do you think you can make contact with her, Harry?” Dumbledore asked Harry suddenly.

“I don’t know Professor, but I can try,” Harry said and closed his eyes, his brow furrowed with concentration. He didn’t know what he was looking for and felt foolish trying to talk to himself. He tried by calling her name.

“Joséphine? Jo?”

Nothing happened.

“Professor… I think I can sense her…” Harry said frowning with his eyes closed… “But I can’t…”

Harry opened his eyes and Dumbledore noticed a different quality to them. His body automatically changed positions, and the physical change was uncanny. Harry’s posture became more… effeminate.

“Professeur?” Harry’s voice spoke with surprise in a higher pitch and he had a full French accent.

“Joséphine?” Dumbledore asked astounded. He had prepared for the change, yet it was still quite disturbing to see the actual change.

She nodded.

Dumbledore began to explain his theory now to her, and she tried to recall everything that had happened that night. Mid-speech, Harry’s eyes opened wide, surprised, “I think I’ve found her!” he blurted in his normal voice.

“We were just speaking to her,” Hermione said.

“Really?” Harry asked baffled. He tried to contact Joséphine again, but he was unable.

“I must speak with Joséphine to get all of the details,” Dumbledore said and sat down on his chair. “There must be a way to trigger the switch…”

“Professeur, I may ‘ave an idea,” Joséphine spoke now catching Dumbledore slightly off-guard as he thought he was speaking to Harry. “I can try Psionic magic to create a connection ,” she offered tentatively. After a moment’s pause, Dumbledore nodded.

Joséphine clasped her hands together and gasped.

“I think this time I did find her!” Harry exclaimed excitedly. He wasn’t aware of his hands clasped together.

“What do you meen you ‘ave found ’er?”

“I’ve found you, inside me…”


“Eet was me who found you…” Joséphine exclaimed. Ron was shaking his head frowning.

“Excellent, can you maintain the connection… erm… Joséphine?

“No, it’s Harry but yes, I can hear her now inside my head,” Harry replied to Dumbledore and paused as if thinking or perhaps Joséphine was saying something.

“Can she come to the surface so I may speak with her?”

“Eet’s me now…”

Now that they had established a connection, inside Harry’s own head, they each could hear each other and also they could hear everyone else. He took over when he had a question. The three other people were bewildered to see them switching back and forth.

“Will you quit it? I am trying to talk to the Professor!” Harry exclaimed annoyed.

“Je suis désolé,” he answered to himself with a French accent. Then he switched back to Harry.

Despite the graveness of the situation, Professor Dumbledore was becoming amused. Ron could only gape at them, and Hermione was frowning.

They were all startled when an Eagle began to peck at the window.

“That’s Professor Donovan’s!” Harry exclaimed and Dumbledore allowed the eagle to get through the window.

“Is he coming back?” “Where is he?” the students asked, but Dumbledore took the note the eagle offered him and read it quickly. He took one look at the clock on the wall and rushed to the fireplace. He muttered something none of the three students could quite catch and jumped aside just as the fireplace burst green and a figure stumbled through, crashing onto the coffee table, knocking everything to the floor.

“Finite Incantatem!” Dumbledore said aiming his wand at the fireplace, and the green flames died out, ceasing all noise. They all stared at Professor Donovan sprawled on the floor. He was trying to stand up, however it was difficult since he was covered from head to toe in a black slime that seemed extremely slippery.

“Professor Donovan!?” Harry exclaimed and stood to help him.

“Quite the stunt you have pulled Professor Donovan. How did you manage to gain access to my office through the Floo?” Dumbledore asked with a serious tone.

“Emergency fire connection,” Donovan said standing up.

“Did you receive any of my messages?” Dumbledore inquired wondering how Donovan knew to return early.

“No; however I left Eni to keep an eye out on Harry and Joséphine, he always knows where I am. When I saw him I knew something must have happened and made arrangements to return sooner than expected.”

“Eni?” Dumbledore queried.

“My eagle,” Donovan motioned to the open window where the eagle stoically perched on the sill. At a nod from Donovan, the eagle took off.

Harry watched as Donovan became really concerned to hear of what had happened. He once again retold the story of his nightmare, and Joséphine gave her take on her memories of the incident.

It was long time before Donovan spoke again. “I want to first try to establish a connection between you and Joséphine’s body before we resort to any other methods,” Donovan said after a long pause. “I can’t be certain, but I hope that all we need to do is to provide for Josephine a way out of Harry’s body and into her own. I don’t make any guarantees, I myself do not understand how it is possible for her to have transferred into Harry,” Donovan cautioned.

Dumbledore nodded and after another short discussion, he conjured a Portkey to St. Mungo’s. He suggested it would be best if Ron and Hermione stayed at Hogwarts, so the pair left Dumbledore’s office back to Gryffindor. Dumbledore told them that they would probably not be back until tomorrow, as long as everything went well. Hermione gave Harry a hug before she left, and Ron shook his hand. It was obvious that they were worried. Harry himself couldn’t deny that he was worried. What if it didn’t work? Would he have to live the rest of his life with Joséphine inside of him? I ‘ope not! What if he ended up in Joséphine’s body, and she in his and there was no way of changing it back? Harry, you are beginning to panic me! I am sure Professeur Donovan will set it right… Isn’t she the least bit worried about this situation? Of course I am, and I can ‘ear you… which by the way, your ‘ead is very beesy place…

“Shut up!”

Donovan and Dumbledore turned to look at Harry.

Harry blushed and apologized. The three of them took the Portkey to St. Mungo’s then they were led to the small private room where Joséphine’s body lay on a bed. Before they entered, Dumbledore halted them.

“Joséphine… this may be a bit of a shock. You might want to prepare yourself,” Dumbledore said grabbing Harry by the shoulders. He bit his lip and nodded. They entered the room and approached the sole bed. All sorts of magical machines were hooked up to the young girl. Joséphine was to the forefront and gasped. Donovan looked at Harry. His eyes rolled back and he fainted. Immediately, Harry took over and tried to catch himself, but still fell.

“Joséphine… Joséphine!?” Harry muttered with his eyes closed and with an expression of worry. His facial lines changes and he becamed worried and agitated.

“I’m sorry… eet was… too much,” Joséphine said as Dumbledore helped her to her feet.

They spent some time with the Mediwitch in charge explaining the situation to her, and they made preparations in case something went wrong.

“Joséphine, I want you to be in the forefront and I want you to summon some yellow magic before you attempt to establish a connection. I am not sure, but you may feel a strong pull to revert to yourself. If that’s the case, let your own body pull you, but be careful and conscious of Harry. We don’t want him to be pulled into you,” Donovan instructed and Joséphine nodded.

“Are you ready?” Donovan asked.

Harry/Joséphine nodded. Josephine reached for her own body’s hand and clutched it tightly. The moment both bodies touched hands she felt a strong pull, almost like being sucked towards her body. She resisted the urge to let go and was barely conscious to the fact that she was screaming. Harry felt Joséphine within his own body as she somehow ‘slipped’ past him. The pulling sensation stopped and he felt that Joséphine was now into her body and he found himself aware of his own.

At that same moment, Joséphine’s body jerked and she sat up, opened her eyes wide and the two stared at each other; Harry was startled to see her eyes were green before they rolled towards the back of her head and she slumped onto the bed. Donovan jumped and held onto her to prevent her from falling off the bed. Harry’s legs gave way beneath him and he collapsed. Dumbledore caught him in his arms. While the Mediwitch began to frantically work with Joséphine whose magical medical equipment began to sound alarms. More Mediwitches rushed into the room.
They pushed Donovan out of the way and he helped Dumbledore and a Mediwizard place Harry onto an empty bed. He had passed out. Another Mediwitch came over to examine him while someone escorted Dumbledore and Donovan outside of the room to wait.

Harry regained consciousness and watched as the Mediwitches were trying to revive Joséphine whose heart had suddenly stopped. Harry’s heart stammered as he watched Joséphine’s body jerk with every shocking spell.

“We have a pulse!” One Mediwitch shouted and Harry felt the vice grip in his heart loosen as he let his breath out. It was a while later that Joséphine was finally left to rest comfortably in her bed. Many of the whirring and weird contraptions that had been hooked up to her were removed. A Mediwizard noticed that Harry was awake and came over to assess his condition. She gave him a clean bill of health.

“How is she?” Harry asked with worry.

“She appears to be back to normal. She should be fine and will probably need some rest” the young man said to Harry with a reassuring smile. Dumbledore and Donovan were let back into the room.

Harry was instructed to rest, and Dumbledore and Donovan said they would be back the next day to collect them.

Very early the next morning, it was Donovan alone who returned for them. Dumbledore had remained at Hogwarts. In that brief instant that she had opened her eyes before collapsing again, Donovan saw that Joséphine’s eyes no longer were blue, and he frowned. He moved his hand to Joséphine’s face as he reached to stroke her cheek and see if he could rouse her.

“Joséphine?”

“Mmmh?” she answered back.

She opened her eyes and blinked a few times. Her pale blue eyes took a moment to adjust to Donovan’s face. Donovan noticed their colour was back, and he frowned slightly before he smiled at her.

“Eet worked,” she whispered hoarsely.

“Is she alright?” Harry asked, wakened by the sound of their voices.

Donovan nodded then asked “How are you feeling?”

“I seem to be doing fine. You Jo?”

“I am fine,” she replied and sat up on her bed. The Mediwitch in charge came to her bed. “If you would excuse us, I will examine her now,” she said as she began to look over at Joséphine.

Donovan waited outside the room for a few minutes then Harry and Joséphine came out looking as healthy and normal as ever, so they left St. Mungos and headed back to Hogwarts. They arrived at the entrance and the Fat Lady was asleep. Before they went in, Donovan had a few words with them.

“I would like to intensify your training Joséphine, to prevent your Psionic ability from escaping your control. Harry, I want you to begin taking Occlumency lessons. I believe that if you learn to understand about Occlumency, we might be able to prevent your mind connection with Joséphine and prevent another incident like this one. I will have to speak with the Headmaster first to approve.”

Harry nodded. He had been putting off doing anything with Occlumency this year, he hadn’t really needed it since Voldemort seemed to be using Occlumency against him. Now he had no choice, he was supposed to be having lessons with Snape again, and now Donovan wanted him to start as well. Harry chose not to mention his lessons with Snape. He wondered if Donovan was an Occlumens as well, and if he would teach him. Harry also wondered if lessons would be better with him than with Snape.

They watched Professor Donovan leave then Harry spoke the password. The Fat Lady grumbled as she swung open the door.

“Harry! Jo!” Hermione exclaimed as she jumped from the couch effectively waking Ron, Fred, George, and Ginny who had stayed up waiting for Harry to return but they had all dozed off in the common room. They had not expected Joséphine.

“Hi guys,”

“’ello”

“Thank goodness you are ok. I kept worrying that things had gone horribly wrong,” Hermione exclaimed as she hugged Harry.

“Eet is nice to be w’ole again,” Joséphine replied returning Hermione’s hug. They were becoming good friends in the short amount of time that she had been here. But sharing a common secret sometimes helped to create a closer bond.

Ginny yawned. “I am glad you are back, but now I think it is time to bed.”

“Bed? More like breakfast,” Fred pointed out nodding to the grandfather clock by the entrance.

They groaned collectively as none of them had really slept very well, and went to their rooms to change for class. Other Gryffindors had started to make their way to the common room, where Dobby set up their usual early morning snack breakfast before DADA.

Harry and Joséphine had been excused from attending the early DADA training session, but both of them had felt good enough to go. Besides, today Professor Donovan would begin teaching them dueling, something that Harry was looking forward to do.

“Today we will start our dueling training sessions by beginning to practice evasive maneuvers without the aid of any magic,” Donovan began and the students murmured.

“Now, Professor De Valerio and I will demonstrate.”

Professor De Valerio threw aside her cloak, and the boys were delighted to see her again wearing her signature leather outfits. In each hand she held a sai. She nodded in readiness. Donovan conjured a shield around the dueling area to absorb any stray curses, and the students sat in circular bleachers that had been conjured around the arena for them to sit and watch.

Donovan and De Valerio faced each other and bowed, but they didn’t take their eyes off each other. Each turned their bodies a little and presented a slim profile to their opponent. Professor Donovan’s right foot was in front of his body about two feet; his body turned sideways presenting his right side to De Valerio, thus protecting his midsection from direct attack. His left foot was directly underneath his left shoulder, turned perpendicular to his right foot, with the line of outside his right foot aligned with the toes of his left foot. Both knees were bent, with his right knee facing upwards, while his left knee faced in front of his body and was bent low. His weight was equally balanced between each foot. His right arm was extending forward, his wand pointed at De Valerio. His head was turned so that his line of vision was aligned with his right arm. His left arm was bent, with his forearm and hand in a horizontal position, palm facing down, fingers outstretched. He was holding his left arm so that his hand aligned with his breastbone.

De Valerio had also turned to show only one side of her body to Donovan, although hers was her left side. Her left foot was in front of her, her knee bent so that it was above her ankle. He right leg was back, her heel back and toes facing forward and out. Her right leg was extended, but her knee was not locked. Her left arm was extended in front of her, her hand turned so that the hilt of the handle of the sais pointed up, while the tips pointed down at a 45 degree angle from horizontal. Her right arm was pressed against her right side, the sais resting lightly on her right thigh.

For a moment neither moved, each studying their opponent. Everyone knew that Donovan would be the first one to make a move, since De Valerio didn’t have a wand. Her role was to demonstrate how to evade curses.

“Stupefy!” Donovan screamed sending the stunner towards De Valerio. Lilian bent her body forward, dodging the curse while at the same time she kicked with her right foot and pivoted on the left foot, and came to rest facing Donovan who had sent a redactor curse her way. The students gasped. Lilian bent backwards, the projectile missed her as she placed her hands on the ground and back flipped landing on her feet. Donovan sent curse after curse and Lilian effectively dodged each one. She surprised the students when she used her sais to intercept a freezing charm and reflected it back towards Donovan who ducked and it missed him. Both teachers stopped, perhaps after signaling each other in some way, and bowed. The students erupted in cheers amazed at the spectacle they had witnessed.

“That was so cool!” Ron exclaimed clapping hard for Professor De Valerio. She had demonstrated an impressive skill in agility, flexibility and reaction response to Donovan’s attack.

Donovan smirked at his partner. “Should we really demonstrate our skill?” He asked with one eyebrow arched.

She smiled and nodded. The students became excited when they noted the Professors bowing to each other again, and assuming their preferred dueling positions. They were stunned when Donovan pulled out a second wand and held one in each hand.

“Two wands! I can’t believe he can wield two wands!!!” Hermione exclaimed quite shocked. She’d read about this ability, but only highly trained special operations division of the Ministry ever got to train like this. She remembered then that Donovan had recently transferred from the Special Operations Team to the Department of Mysteries.

The students watched as Donovan used both wands with equal power and skill, and what made it even more exciting was the fact that he was using non-verbal spells. Curses were flying faster and faster than anyone had ever witnessed before, and Professor De Valerio kept up with everyone of them. This time her sais were in more use, blocking some spells and hurling them back at Donovan until she lost one, then the other sais. The duel was over when Professor De Valerio used her whip to snatch each wand away from Professor Donovan. The student’s cheers had gone wild!

Once the cheering had calm down, the students sat down excited waiting for instruction. Could they learn to do that?

“The demonstration that we have given you should give you plenty of proof that it is possible to dodge a curse without the aid of a wand. In the beginning of the term I explained to you the importance of achieving high stamina, strength, and flexibility. If you apply yourselves with discipline, you too could someday achieve this level of expertise. I know some of you are in this class only because of the fact that it has been made mandatory for everyone in fifth year and higher. Those of you who would not consider a career that involved the knowledge of attack and defense techniques may be thinking that you do not need to learn this. Indeed, perhaps these skills will not be relevant to your chosen profession directly. But we are in dark times, there is a dark lord rising to power as I speak and the future may not be as bright as all wish to believe. Some of you will join forces with the dark side, other will choose to fight it.”

“Regardless, my job is not to judge you by what path you may follow. My job is to prepare you for the reality of the world out there where at any moment you may be faced with a life and death situation. My hope is that each and every one of you will learn the meaning of honor, courage, and discipline. We will dedicate this next hour to learn stances, body movement, and techniques. Those of you of Muggle background may recognize some of these movements from several of what Muggles call the martial arts. We will spend our last hour this morning working on a new and improved obstacle course. This course is a lot harder than the original. From now on we will split our class time in this same manner. Part of your last exam of this term will consist of a test on the obstacle course. This time there will be no partial credit and only a Pass/Fail grade will be assigned. Let us begin.”

The students again aligned themselves in their order, and Professor De Valerio instructed them through the different poses. By the end of the hour they had began to work in a synchronized matter through a routine. Then they spent the last hour trying to tackle the new obstacle course. Professor Donovan was not exaggerating when he said this course was harder. No one made it past the third obstacle.

“Good work everyone. For our next class, please read pages 317 through 408. We will begin working on nonverbal spells. You can begin practicing before the next class, but only the disarming and shielding charms. Understood? I will give detention to anyone that dares use anything else for this class assignment. And do trust me, I will learn of it. You are dismissed for today.”

The students returned to their common rooms exhausted, but excitedly chattering about the demonstration between the two Professors. Veronica caught up to Harry’s group.

“Hey, Harry. Wait!” She called and Harry told the others to go ahead, he’d meet them later.

“I missed you last night,” she said rubbing her cheek against his and sounding a kiss. “Ron and Hermione told me that you had to go with Professor Dumbledore to St. Mungos for a check up to make sure you were ok. I was worried about you.” She said as she reached for his hand.

“Yeah, I got a clean bill of health. Sorry I wasn’t able to come see you at the library,” he replied feeling a bit self conscious of the fact that Veronica was holding his hand. It didn’t help that some of his friends and classmates were jeering him behind Veronica. Harry tried not to smile and focused on Veronica’s face.

“I like this,” she said indicating to his long hair tied at the nape of his neck.

“It isn’t permanent; Hermione fixes me just for class in the morning. I’ll be back to normal in a little while,” he said shrugging. He didn’t notice the look Veronica gave him for a few seconds. She dismissed her thoughts and smiled.

“I like you that way too,” Veronica giggled.

“That’s good then,” Harry smiled at her. He was really happy to have her around. He had missed her terribly since she had left, and he was looking forward to spend more time with her. Already a second trip to Hogsmeade had been announced for the weekend after Halloween. He had thought that maybe after the incident in Hogsmeade that they would be cancelled. He was glad they hadn’t. Harry was making plans.

“I better go get ready for class, I have double Charms this morning. What is your schedule today? Maybe we can meet later?” Veronica asked hopeful.

“I’ve got double potions after break and Charms and Care of Magical Creatures after lunch. I’m meeting with Hermione after class to work on finishing up our Charms project that is due tomorrow, and then I have Detention with Professor Donovan this evening after dinner,” Harry replied, “but I have about an hour just before dinner free.”

“I have to meet with Professor Lupin after class, and then I meet with Professor Sinistra after that. I won’t be free then. How about I join you for lunch, and maybe dinner as well?” She asked as she looped her arm through his and began walking towards the staircases.

“That’ll work, I’ll draw up my schedule and give it to you and you can give me yours. Maybe we ought to set up a time for each other so we can see each other,” Harry said as they stopped.

“Sounds like a plan. I will see you at lunch then,” she said and gave him a peck on the lips. Harry turned to continue upstairs to the Gryffindor tower. He took a quick shower and joined the group at the table.

Hermione barely paid attention to them since she had a test in Arithmancy this morning and thought she forgot something, so she was studying (for the fifteenth time in two days).

Harry and Ron spent their free time doing homework. For some reason it seemed that the Professors thought that only in their class was homework assigned, so they gave lots of it since they were under the belief that the students were swimming in free time. On top of regular homework, each class seemed to have a project to be due this week. Finally, when break time came about, Harry and Ron each finished their assignments. Hermione was reading more of the scrolls that she had bought at Zibiki’s since she had finished her homework the day before. So far nothing new had surfaced on the monolith portals, but she had eliminated two more Planes of Magic from the list.

“Finally!” Harry exclaimed putting down his quill. A few moments later Ron too finished.

“Are you done?” Hermione looked up from her reading.

“Yep.”

“Ok, hand them over,” she said setting her scrolls aside.

“You’re my saviour, Hermione,” Ron said standing up and flopping on a chair. She skimmed through Harry’s essay fairly quickly, scribbling a little bit here and a little bit there for minor corrections. When it came Ron’s turn it seemed to both of them that she scribbled a lot more. She handed them their homework back.

“I’ve made a few suggestions, and pointed to your spelling and grammar errors, so you might want to fix those before turning them it. Otherwise they look good,” She said nodding with approval. She would never correct the work herself. She believed that if they fixed their mistakes than they were bound to learn.

“Wow, that’s a first,” Ron exclaimed “Usually you seem ready to tear our essays out and have us start over.”

“This time you didn’t put it off until the last minute and you are not frantic to finish it off, so you actually concentrated on doing a better job,” she replied.

“Thanks Hermione. Sometimes I forget to thank you,” said Harry as he rolled his parchment. He could finish making the corrections to his DADA homework during his free period before lunch tomorrow.

“You’re welcome,” Hermione beamed at him. Ron too thanked her.

After break, they headed down to the Dungeon’s for their potions class. They caught up with Neville (He almost forgot that it was Potions, but Parvati reminded him.) The students quieted when Snape entered the classroom, his dark robe billowing behind him and his signature scowl on his face. He seemed to be in a really bad mood. The whole class quieted down even more, and was afraid to even breathe.

“Leave it to you to completely waste my time!” He bellowed at the class as essays flew towards their owners. “Pathetic! I wonder why I deserve to waste my time with incompetents such as you!” He muttered darkly as he paced in front of his classroom. He paused and turned to look at them, “you began a potion last week! What are you waiting for? Get to work!” Snape snapped and the students jumped and quickly set to work on the potion they began last Thursday. When the bell rang signifying the end of class, the students scrambled to leave the classroom.

“Potter. I must have a word with you,” Snape snarled just as Harry was about to go out the door.

“We’ll see you later,” Ron and Hermione said to him and Harry nodded. He turned to face Professor Snape.

“Close the door…”

Harry did as told.

“We will resume your Occlumency lessons next Monday at 8:00 pm. I hope you have figured out the cube by then. I do not wish to waste any more time than necessary,” Snape said with glaring eyes at Harry. “Believe me Potter, if I had any choice you would be learning from Professor Dumbledore,” Snape spat at Harry with venom. Harry snarled under his breath and cursed inwardly as Snape had read his mind.

“Now go before I take more house points from you today for wasting more of my time,” Snape sneered at Harry. Harry glared at his Professor before he stormed from the dungeons. How he hated Snape!

****

Wednesday night, Harry, Ron and Hermione waited in an empty classroom as the members of the DA began to arrive. It was their luck that no one else had figured out how to use the Room of Requirement so Harry had decided to keep that use as secret as possible for the time being. He knew that Malfoy knew how to get in, mainly, but Harry didn’t worry about him. The last time they had held a DA meeting, Dobby had told Harry that Draco Malfoy had tried to get in, but because Harry had devised a specific need, including to keep anyone not belonging to the DA out when he walked in front of the Room of Requirement, Draco had failed to make it appear. Harry new that Malfoy would figure out that the room was in use when he couldn’t get in, but Harry would worry about that later.

Since today they would be bringing new potential members to the meeting, they decided to hold the meeting in an empty classroom. Only after people had signed up would he reveal the Room of Requirement to them. Everyone agreed it was a good plan.

Soon students began to arrive and Harry began to take notice of the new possible members. They had decided to limit the students to third year and higher, and they had discussed the possibility of assigning a few of the old members who volunteered to head extra DA meetings for the newer and younger members of the group who would need help catching up. After all, those in third year never had Lupin for a teacher, and their DADA experience had been with the impostor Moody, and with Umbridge.

There were twenty-four original members of the DA this year. From Hufflepuff there was Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones, Justin Finch-Fletchley, and Ernie Macmillan. From Ravenclaw the members were Terry Boot, Cho Chang, Michael Corner, Anthony Goldstein, and Luna Lovegood. The Gryffindors were everybody in Harry’s year, except for Johana Moon, it also included the Creevey brothers, and the Weasley siblings.

Harry waved at Josephine who arrived with Fred. A few minutes later, George entered the room with four other seventh years. Harry knew their names, but he hadn’t really ever been around them much. They were Betrum Dunstan (who preferred to be called Berty), and Jonathan Lake from Gryffindor, Bianca Lake and William Ashford were from Hufflepuff. Derek Finnelas (the other Gryffindor fifth year prefect), Jack Slopper and Geoffrey Hooper arrived with Ginny; Colin Creevey entered the room accompanied by Jessica Marie King from fourth year and Natalie McDonald from third year, both Gryffindors.

Harry saw Megan Jones, a Hufflepuff fifth year, arrive with Lee Jordan’s little brother, Simon. Harry wondered who had invited them since they arrived without the escort of a DA member. He saw Justin Finch-Fletchley call them over to sit by him.

The Ravenclaws seemed to arrive in a huge large group, when in fact they had set out in separate groups and after taking different detours they happened to arrive here at about the same time. Cho Chang was accompanied by Jane Lambert, and Izabelle Slopper. They were in seventh year. Harry was glad that she hadn’t invited Veronica yet. They had discussed previously who to invite, and Veronica hadn’t been part of the school yet. It would look like an unfair thing to do to invite her just because she was Harry’s girlfriend. He would invite her next time, after sharing this with the group, of course.

Terry Boot and Michael Corner had invited Su Li from fifth year and Lisa Chambers from fourth year Ravenclaw. Anthony Goldstein arrived alone, while Padma Patil arrived with third year Orla Quirke. Luna Lovegood was the last to arrive with her classmates Edith Lake and Christopher Lambert.

“Is everyone here?” Harry asked trying to get the chattering group’s attention. He cleared his throat, and tried again. He felt nervous. “Are we waiting for anyone else?” This time the group noticed Harry and the noise died down and they looked around to see who was missing. Luna raised her hand.

“There are two more people coming,” she said just as two Slytherin boys arrived at the door and stared wide eyed at the large group of students and all devoid of Slytherins.

Miles Lambert and Vincent Lake looked ready to bolt, but Luna waved them over. Vincent was a fourth year Slytherin and he was brother to Edith, Bianca and Jonathan Lake. Miles was Christopher’s twin and they were Jane’s younger brothers.

It had been quite a riot trying to agree to let two Slytherin boys be members of the DA the last time they had met. But Luna Lovegood had insisted Miles and Vincent were good choices. Cho Chang had said that she knew Miles because he was Christopher’s twin and Jane, their older sister, had good things to say about them. The Weasley twins, surprisingly, said that the little Lake bloke was alright. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lake were part of the Auror division. They knew his older brother and sister who where in seventh year.

“Well, don’t just stand there! Find a seat,” Ron said to the two boys who jumped, startled. Vincent and Miles nervously moved over to sit with Luna, Edith Lake and Chris Lambert.

“Alright, is that everyone then?” Harry asked again and there were nods of agreement. “Let’s get started.”

Hermione closed the door. She cast a silencing charm on the walls, the windows, and the door to keep any outside snoopers from hearing any of the conversation. The younger students looked at her with mixed expressions of awe, fear, and jealousy. Hermione was without a doubt the smartest witch in school.

“Before we get started,” began Hermione, “I will like everybody new to sign up on this register.”

Hermione passed a parchment and a quill. The original members of the order looked over the shoulders of the new members to make sure everybody signed their names. It was a precaution they had all agreed to take.

Hermione counted the names of the new members and nodded to Harry.

“All right; most of you were not told what this is all about. You were simply invited to a secret meeting to a secret club. Now, before I proceed I want everyone new to know that the parchment you have just signed is charmed. Our club is to remain a secret, and you are not allowed to speak of it to anyone outside this group. If you do, you will suffer a worse fate than the just the word SNEAK written upon your entire body.” Harry began with a serious tone, “Just make sure you don’t let it slip to anyone. Does everyone understand what I am saying?”

The new members nodded, everyone could see Marieta’s pimples under the heavy coat of make-up and none wished the same fate.

“Ok. First order of business is to explain to you what we do in this club. We are a club dedicated to learning and practicing Defense Against the Dark Arts beyond the scope of what the school teaches us. We learn more about dark magic and how to best be prepared against it.”

“So you are a Defense Against Dark Arts club?” Jonathan Lake asked incredulous. “That’s it? A frigging Defense Against Dark Arts club?”

“Yes, we are a Defense Against Dark Arts club,” Hermione replied hotly. “We are preparing ourselves for the war. Voldemort…” a shudder passed through the crowd, while some of them gasped in horror, “is rising in power and it is only a matter of time before he rises to full power again.” A few of the original members also flinched a bit.

“So a requirement to be a member of this society is to reject Voldemort and the Dark Forces he commands, which brings us to our second order of business. As part of our group you will be required to swear an oath to defend that which is right, and to take allegiance against Voldemort,” Harry stepped in to try and control Hermione.

“WHAT? This is madness?” Isabelle Slopper shouted as she stood up alarmed. “I might as well put a sign on my back that says ‘kill me, I want to die’!” she said in a panic. “I will not take sides, I won’t get involved.”

“Like it or not there are only two sides to this!” Ron answered her with a serious tone. “To V... Vol… Voldemort you are with him or against him.”

“We will not force anyone into this, so you each have a choice. You can stay and pledge your oath, or you can go. You will still not be able to speak with anyone about us, you signed the parchment. So it is your choice Isabelle.”

There were many of the new students that were reconsidering staying. Their curiosity had been piqued, but they also feared He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named because their parents feared him. Yet, there were some who wanted to stay, even if only to satisfy their curiosity. Not to mention that Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, was the leader.

Isabelle stood up and grabbed her brother Jack. “Come, we’re going. This is non-sense!”

“What? No!” Jack said pulling his hand away. “I am staying!”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” She screamed at him.

“I said I want to stay!”

“I’ll tell mother…”

Jack paled for a moment. “You can’t! You signed the parchment!” he said hoping that was enough to convince her to keep her mouth shut.

“You are a fool! All of you are a bunch of idiots! You will all end up killed if you run around with him. That’s all you will get, just like Cedric…” she said pointing at Harry.

There was a sharp intake of breath, Harry noticed Cho looking appalled. Stunned silence followed for a moment. Harry paled as Isabelle pointed her finger at him. Then Fred, George, Ron, Hermione, and several of the original members of the DA jumped to Harry’s defense. Jane Lambert joined Isabelle, she was one who wanted to stay, but she couldn’t let them gang up against her friend. Cho looked undecidedly between the two groups. Chaos erupted in the group. Harry tried to calm them down.

“SILENCIO,” Harry screamed above the commotion. The whole room suddenly became quiet, yet the people were still screaming at each other without a voice. Finally they realized what happened and they all turned to look at Harry. The older students were stunned that Harry could perform a Silencing Charm so powerful that worked on more than one person. This helped convince some of those who were wondering. They would stay.

“Please, calm down,” Harry called to the group. “If I lift the spell, will you all just shut up? There’s no need to be shouting,” Harry said and finally the students agreed.

Finite” Harry said and people began to talk, just to test their voices again.

“Look Isabelle, you are more than welcome to leave. I don’t care what your reasons are; if you won’t do the pledge, then you don’t belong with us,” Harry said sternly. He was not playing games; he had decided the moment he agreed to continue the DA that this was not a social club, so he wouldn’t treat them like little kids playing games. Several select few thought like him, especially those who had gone to the Ministry with him last year. “Everyone here is old enough to make their own choices, and, like I said, nobody will force anyone to leave or to stay. So who else is going with Isabelle?”

Nobody volunteered. Isabelle glared at Harry, and then turned to her brother Jack.

“Fine!” she spat at Jack as he stood firm and shook his head no. Isabelle stormed towards the door. She opened the door and walked out. Hermione followed after her. She pulled out her wand, and walked towards the retreating girl.

“Isabelle?” she called just as Isabelle passed the threshold. Hermione stepped outside and pulled the door closed behind her.

“WHAT?” Isabelle said as she spun around.

“Obliviate” Hermione said pointing her wand at Isabelle, then hid her wand behind her quickly.

“Thank you Isabelle for your help with that Freezing charm,” Hermione said as she turned Isabelle around and helped her to walk down the hallway. “Now you can go back to your common room.”

Isabelle blinked and focused on Hermione. She smiled at the bushy haired girl. “You’re welcome Hermione. I can help anytime. I guess I better get back to my room. I have to study.”

“Goodnight,” Hermione waved at her and smiled. Once Isabelle had turned around the corner, Hermione re-entered the room.

Hermione whispered something to Harry. Harry looked at her, blinked a few times. He couldn’t believe that she had done that. “It’s for her own good; the charms I used this time are pretty nasty.” He nodded. Harry turned back to the group.

“Isabelle is right on something. If Voldemort finds out that you are ‘running around’, as she puts it, with me, then you will move up his target list. This is why it is very important that none of you let it slip who we are. We call ourselves Dumbledore’s Army, or the DA for short.”

Vincent and Miles, the two Slytherin boys, began to laugh. Soon other new members laughed as well.

“So you think this is funny?” Ron bellowed at the students silencing them immediately. “This is no joke. People have died at the hands of V…Voldemort and his Death Eaters. You all remember Cedric? And many of you have heard the stories of before, when he was in power?” he said causing the students to pale and become serious. “Many of you know that he has been after Harry since he was a baby. So this is your last chance. If you want to leave, say so now,” said Ron and leveled a hard gaze at everyone. He saw the determined faces of the DA members. The new members looked more scared, and they looked at each other and the older members. Nobody moved to leave.

“Good,” Ron nodded and turned it to Hermione.

“By your choice to remain with us you are saying that you will not join forces with V… Voldemort,” Hermione began. She still stuttered saying the name sometimes, even after Harry had made it clear to the DA members that he wanted them to stop fearing the name. The DA members had been making an effort to say his name outright, at least among each other. Ron and Hermione where the only ones so far who constantly used his name, although Ron stuttered most of the time.
Hermione made every new member say an oath to prove they were not Voldemort’s supporters. Many DA original members managed to choke out Voldemort’s name by now, but the new members couldn’t do it. He was still You-Know-Who to them. Hermione reminded them that a magical oath carried an obligation with it, and a curse if it was broken.

Hermione pulled out a sack full of galleons. “These are DA galleons… and they are fake, so don’t use them to buy anything,” she began and proceeded to explain their use. “As a new member, you each receive one of these. When Harry chooses the date and time of our next meeting, your galleon will grow warm, and they will change to notify you of this information. So, next time you feel your galleon get warm, please contact an older member to arrange a guide to our meeting room. Like our group, the way to get into this room is a secret while we are inside,” said Hermione as handed the purse full of galleons to the students and they passed it around. The new members chatted excitedly about the charmed fake galleons, and the news of a secret room in Hogwarts.

“That’s it for tonight. Next time we meet, we will see what the new members are capable of. We have discussed the possibility of holding extra meetings for the new members to bring them up to speed with the rest of us. We’ll decide that next time. Remember, take separate routes to your common rooms and always go in smaller groups. We don’t want other students to question what we’re up to,” said Harry and dismissed the group.



Chapter 30: Hermione's Woe
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Chapter 30

Hermione’s Woe


“Where are you going now?” Ron asked Harry after the classroom had emptied. Hermione was putting the new signed parchment away in her bag.

“I’m supposed to meet Veronica in about 10 minutes,” Harry replied as the trio began to walk back to Gryffindor, “but I need to get my invisibility cloak.” Harry could tell that Hermione didn’t approve of the fact that he was planning on staying out past curfew, but he was glad when she didn’t say anything. He asked Ron to stay outside and help him get out. He raced to his room, and came back out under the invisibility cloak, avoiding bumping into anyone. When the portrait door opened, Ron entered as Harry left. Harry raced to meet Veronica by the staircases, where they had agreed to meet.

“Pssst. Over here,” Harry whispered and Veronica looked around trying to find him.

“Harry?” She felt a hand grab her own and she was pulled behind a statue.

“In here,” said Harry as he pulled the invisibility cloak open. Veronica looked surprised and grinned as she huddled next to him and Harry wrapped the cloak around the two of them.

“This is amazing!” said Veronica in an excited whisper. “Where did you get this?”

“It was my dad’s.” Harry replied. “Come on… I wanted to take you on a private tour.” Harry guided her along heading first towards the Kitchens. They made their way carefully to the entrance hall, went down the marble steps, and turned left then went through the door that led to the Kitchen. They had to hide behind a statue when a Hufflepuff girl raced towards her dormitory so she could arrive before curfew. When the hallway was once again empty, they made their way to a large portrait of fruits. Veronica giggled as Harry tickled the pear in the portrait that hid the entrance to the Kitchens.

“This castle is fascinating!” Veronica whispered to Harry and gave him a quick kiss on the cheeks.

As they entered, Veronica was delighted by the house elves. Her duende, a Spanish elf, was different. He didn’t look like the house elves of England; instead, the magical community in that part of the country used house imps, which were similar to leprechauns, yet they were called elves. There were very few true house elves. .

“Dobby.” Harry called when he didn’t see his friend in the kitchen. Dobby appeared with a soft pop.

“Harry Potter visits Dobby, sir… Dobby is pleased to see Harry Potter,” said Dobby bowing low to Harry. He straightened up and looked towards Harry’s companion. Dobby yelped when he saw Veronica and jumped back frightened. His large green eyes held fear in them.

“Dobby what’s wrong?” Harry asked startled. Veronica too was startled by the elf’s reaction.

“M.. MM… MMMM… MMMiss. Black? But Miss Black is dead. That’s what Misses Malfoy had said… yes… dead!?” Dobby said as if he was seeing a ghost.

Comprehension dawned on Harry. “No Dobby, this is her daughter, Veronica.” Harry tried to explain.

Dobby squealed with fright and disappeared with a pop.

“What is wrong with him?” Veronica asked quite disconcerted.

“I don’t know.” Harry answered equally confused. He wondered what Veronica’s mother may have done to Dobby when she was married to Voldemort.

The mood seemed to have been ruined, so Harry decided not to stay in the Kitchens. He made a mental note to ask Dobby later about what happened. He would see the elf tomorrow morning when he prepared the early breakfast for the Gryffindors before they went to DADA in the morning.

“Hey, let’s go up to the courtyard by the Owlery,” said Harry as he wrapped the invisibility cloak around him. He opened it up for Veronica to stand next to him. They exited the Kitchen then headed towards the West Tower.

After a quick visit to the courtyard, Veronica wanted to explore more of the castle. It was almost midnight by the time Harry took Veronica to the entrance of the Ravenclaw tower.

“I had a great time,” Veronica said as she moved so she was standing in front of Harry under the invisibility cloak.

“Me too,” said Harry as he wrapped his arms around her waist. Veronica leaned up to kiss him, and their lips locked in a long kiss. They were startled by Muluc appearing on Veronica’s shoulder. She took the note that he carried on his beak. It was from her legal guardian in Nicaragua.

“What does it say?”

Veronica smiled. “Yes! I’ll be coming into my inheritance when I turn 18 and Maruan (her Legal guardian) will be out of the picture for good… oh, that’ll be so nice not having to go through him all the time! I can actually do whatever I want with my money!” she exclaimed as she folded the note.

Harry smiled at her, although he frowned a little. Veronica had never seemed so concerned about her money before, and it caught him a little off guard as she startled to rattle about things she would do with her money. One thing Harry had liked about Veronica was how down to earth she had been, and the fact that she had millions to her name had never seemed to go to her head.

“I better get to bed, we have to be up in less than five hours,” she said as she kissed him again.

“Yeah,” replied Harry. Veronica giggled at his far-off expression just before he kissed her one more time.

“I Love you,” said Veronica after their lips parted. Her eyes were sparkling, and she had an idyllic smile on her face. She looked up into Harry’s eyes. Her smile faltered a little as she realized what she had said.

Harry was caught off guard by her declaration, and immediately the words formed in his head, but for some reason he couldn’t utter them. He began to feel a certain level of panic. The moment had been perfect to tell her that he loved her too, but he had hesitated. Now it seemed too late to say it. He was also having a conflict within himself. A little voice had asked: Do you really…?

“It’s all right Harry,” said Veronica as she smiled weakly and with a sense of alarm. She felt she might have blown it. “I know it seems rather soon, but I feel that way about you. I don’t expect you to say it back, I know you care about me and when you are ready you will tell me. I better go. Chao,” Veronica said hastily, and after a quick peck on the lips, she got out of the invisibility cloak and said the password to her dormitory.

Harry stared at the door for a while. He frowned but he didn’t have much time to brood about what had just happened because he heard a noise close by. He pulled out his map to check who it was.

“I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” Harry whispered and tapped the map with his wand.

Harry saw his own figure standing by the Ravenclaw entrance. On a corridor nearby, someone was walking towards his location. Harry recognized the name, Vincent with the garbled, unreadable, last name. He didn’t want to stand around and wait to be discovered by Vincent heading for the Ravenclaw entrance. Harry certainly knew he wasn’t the only one that ever snuck out after hours. He checked that the path to Gryffindor was clear, and it was, so he quietly stole away.

“Harry!”

Harry was startled when Hermione met him in the common room. She was wearing her dressing robes. “It’s about time! I thought you’d been caught or something,” Hermione said apparently relieved to see him.

“What? Why were you so worried?”

“Professor Donovan was looking for you,” said Hermione with relief now that Harry was here.

“He was?” asked Harry worried. “What did you tell him?”

“Ron told him that you were in the showers,” Hermione answered and seemed to be relaxing a little.

“How did you see Professor Donovan?” Harry wondered since they had been back to the tower after the DA just before curfew.

“One of the portraits told us that there was a boy outside. We realized Neville forgot his password again, so Ron went to open the door for him. Anyway, Professor Donovan appeared at the top of the stairs and asked Ron if he could go get you. Ron told him you were in the showers. He left a message saying he would like to speak with you before class tomorrow,” said Hermione, “but Ron had the feeling that the Professor knew you were out of the tower.”

“Thanks Hermione. We better get to bed,” said Harry as he headed to his room. Hermione looked as if she wanted to say something, changed her mind and headed to her room.

“Good night Harry.”

“Good night Hermione.”

*****

Harry couldn’t help but yawn a lot the next morning. They had Transfiguration first thing on Thursdays, and as fascinating as the lesson was on Human Transfiguration, Harry couldn’t help but doze off. He hadn’t slept very well, nor very long this morning, and to top it off, DADA had been tough, and Harry had to get up even earlier so he could speak with Donovan before class. Hermione elbowed him a few times to wake him.

“Pay attention!” she would hiss at him, “McGonagall has noticed…”
Harry tried his best but couldn’t help it when his head nodded off again.

“Mr. Potter…”

Harry’s head snapped up.

“… since you seem to be bored, I assume it is because you already know how to perform this transfiguration, so I think we would all be delighted if you came up to the front and gave us a little demonstration,” Professor McGonagall said, her lips in the thinnest line Harry had seen for a while.

Harry gulped and nervously made his way to the front. Harry looked to Hermione who was biting her lip in trepidation.

“Mr. Weasley, since you seem to be distracted as well, why don’t you serve as Mr. Potter’s subject,” McGonagall snapped when she noticed Ron leaning over to whisper to Hermione. Ron’s face turned a deep shade of red, and he felt his ears burn. He slowly got up to his feet and went to stand opposite from Harry.

Harry was racking his brain for the incantation the he was to use. One incantation came to mind, he was sure he had just heard McGonagall talk about it. He nervously lifted his wand and pointed it at Ron. He took a deep breath. Professor McGonagall had crossed her arms as she stood in front of her desk waiting to see what kind of mess Harry would make of Ron.

“Transfigura Leo” Harry said and an orange jet shot from his wand towards Ron. The class gasped stunned. McGonagall pursed her lips and shook her head. She didn’t think it would amount to anything more than a few tufts of mane on Ron. At the same time Hermione screamed in horror, “HARRY NO!”

The students screamed in fear as a loud roar filled the classroom. Pandemonium broke loose.

“Merlin’s Beard!” McGonagall exclaimed flabbergasted as she jumped on top of her desk, away from a huge, gigantic paw that had swatted at her. She could not believe her eyes for a second. The huge tawny lion crouched, readying itself to attack Harry. Harry stood with mouth agape, frozen in shock. It all happened so fast.

The lion pounced, his huge teeth bared, snarling, and with claws unsheathed.

“FINITE!” Professor McGonagall screamed and Ron transformed back to his former self in mid-air and crashed into Harry.

“I am so sorry! I swear I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to eat you!” Ron blubbered as he tried to get up.

“POTTER! NEVER…. I NEVER!...” she could barely speak, and was white as a sheet. Then she seemed to explode, her face turning purple as she screamed. “YOU COULD HAVE KILLED SOMEONE! WE ARE TRANSFIGURING OUR HAIR TO A DIFFERENT COLOR! IF YOU HAD BEEN PAYING ATTENTION YOU WOULD HAVE HEARD ME CORRECTLY WHEN I SAID THAT TRANSFIGURING A HUMAN INTO A LARGE PREDATORY ANIMAL WAS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AS IN THE CASE OF TRANSFIGURA LEO!” McGonagall was livid.

Hermione had never seen Professor McGonagall so mad, nor Harry so red that he matched Ron’s hair.

“Report yourself to the Headmaster’s Office! Now! Potter,” McGonagall said pointing to the door. “The rest of you back to your seats!” Within seconds the class was back on their seats.

Harry even forgot to pick up his book sac as he turned on his heel and raced out of McGonagall’s classroom as fast as he could without actually running. The door slammed hard behind him, almost not even waiting for him to clear the threshold. Harry leaned against the wall for a moment trying to get his pulse down to normal.

Blimey Harry thought to himself.

“Harry?”

Harry looked up to Professor Lupin’s voice. He saw him walking around the corner in his direction. Remus had a free period right now and he was actually heading to his office to prepare for his next class.

“Remus…” Harry said involuntarily. “Er… I mean, Professor Lupin.”

Lupin smiled at Harry, then he looked puzzled. “Shouldn’t you be in class?”

“I got kicked out. In fact, I am supposed to be on my way to Professor Dumbledore’s office,” said Harry sheepishly.

Remus raised an eyebrow. He was about to speak when the door opened. Professor McGonagall seemed ready to say something to Harry, but was startled a bit to find Professor Lupin with him (although you could barely notice her startled look.).

“Ah, Remus. I heard Potter’s voice and I was going to remind him where he needs to go…”

“Yes, he just informing me he is on his way to see Dumbledore. I was going to escort him to the Headmaster’s office,” Lupin replied with a slight smile.

“Thank you Professor,” Professor McGonagall replied and went back to class.

Remus turned to Harry and said, “You can tell me on the way to Dumbledore’s.”

Harry quickly recounted what had happened in Transfiguration. Remus was surprised.

“I know, I should have been paying attention, and I almost got myself killed, eaten by Ron!” Harry said with exaggerated, frustrated, and guilty gestures. “I have never seen Professor McGonagall so livid!”

“Tell me Harry, did Professor McGonagall say anything else about Transfigura Leo?” Remus asked him.

Harry blushed. “I… I don’t know, I was falling asleep at the moment.”

They arrived at the Gargoyle statue that guarded the entrance to Dumbledore’s office. Remus spoke a password to the staircases. The gargoyle silently moved away, revealing the magic escalators.

Remus frowned slightly. “Well, than you should be at least proud of the fact that there are only five people—six counting you— in all of Europe who can actually perform that spell correctly. Minerva is one of them, and I’ve heard that it took her the better part of thirty years to finally master that spell. So her reaction probably had to do somewhat to the fact that you barely pay attention in class, then without previous knowledge of the subject you manage to transform Ron into a fully developed lion,” said Remus as he waved Harry to go on after seeing his bewildered expression. “I will see you in class on Monday,” said Remus and walked away from Harry, and chuckled. James, he’s got your talent. You would be proud…

Harry stared after Remus for a while until he disappeared. Finally he blinked and closed his mouth. It took her thirty years to master the spell? Thirty years!

“Ah, Harry. I received a note from Minerva saying she had sent you my way…”

Harry turned around to see Professor Dumbledore exiting the entrance to his office.

“I’m sorry Harry, but I have an urgent matter to attend to. We will have to discuss this at a later time I’m afraid,” Dumbledore said to Harry who still couldn’t find words to speak after what Remus had said to him. The bell rang signaling the end of class.

“Run along now, but please do try to stay awake during class Harry,” Dumbledore said and left a flabbergasted Harry behind. Dumbledore turned around. “And Harry? In the future, you may wish to turn in earlier so you can achieve a full night’s rest,” Dumbledore smiled at him, turned around, and headed down to the Kitchens.

Harry watched Professor Dumbledore get lost amidst the students who were coming out of their classrooms. Dumbledore seemed to always know almost everything.
He saw Ron and Hermione coming towards him. Ron was carrying his book bag for him.

“Harry! I can’t believe…”

Harry put a hand up to stop Hermione. “I know… Professor Lupin explained it to me.”

Ron looked between the two not quite sure what they were talking about. It was as if they could read each others mind.

“So, what did Professor Dumbledore say?” Ron asked intrigued.

“He was actually on his way out, so he didn’t have time for me. He said that we will talk later and to make sure I pay attention in class and turn in to bed early next time.”

“I don’t know how you get away with it Harry,” Hermione said shaking her head.

Harry couldn’t help but grin.

****

Late afternoon, Harry was lounging in the common room waiting for Ron to return. He had just returned from spending the afternoon with Veronica.

“Hey Crookshanks,” Harry said to the ginger cat as he jumped on his lap and began to purr.

Harry scratched behind the cats ears. He winced as Crookshanks began to knead his thighs with his claws.

‘Prrreow’

Harry chuckled. He always smiled when Crookshanks attempted to meow when he was purring at the same time. “You must be hungry?” Harry said to the cat, as the cat rubbed against his chest, suddenly filling Harry’s face with his bottlebrush tail.

“Hey,” Harry said pulling the tail aside. “Where is Hermione anyway?” Harry said as he continued to pet the cat. “Hermione!” Harry said jumping to his feet throwing Crookshanks from his lap. Crookshanks didn’t appreciate the gesture.

‘Phzzzzzz’ The cat hissed at Harry, his ears flattened.

“Hermione is going to kill me!” Harry said as he raced to the portrait hole. The portrait swung open and Harry raced out colliding into Hermione. Books, quills, ink bottles, parchments, and all sorts of things flew out of Hermione’s arms and bag and scattered everywhere.

“Oh God, I am so sorry Hermione!” Harry said when he heard her grunt.

“Where were you?” She hotly demanded. Harry couldn’t quite see her face since his glasses had flown out of his face. He could hear in her voice that she was not pleased. He had completely forgotten about their Transfiguration Project meeting, and they were presenting tomorrow.

Harry blushed embarrassed as he felt around the floor for his glasses. Hermione stood up and began to shove things into her bag. She seemed really angry. “I waited for three hours. THREE HOURS! You could at least send me a note or tell me you don’t plan on showing up…” She continued as she accioed her things that had rolled down the starilwell, “... and to top it all I hear from Parvati that you have been with Veronica all afternoon patrolling the hallways! I thought that maybe something really important had come up to detain you from helping me finish the project…”

“Hermione, I’m sorry… I completely forgot…”

Hermione said a few choice words that made the Portrait Lady gasp. Harry blinked stupidly at her. Hermione was not one to curse. “…I TOLD YOU WHEN WE LEFT HERBOLOGY WHERE I WAS GOING! YOU SAID YOU’D BE THERE IN 1 HOUR…” Hermione screamed completely losing her temper, “IF IT WASN’T FOR THE FACT THAT MY MARKS DEPEND ON THIS PROJECT AS MUCH AS YOURS I WOULDN’T HAVE BOTHERED TO FINISH IT ALL! INCLUDING YOUR PART!” She said as she slammed a few parchments on the floor in front of Harry, who was still looking for his glasses. He hadn’t thought of accioing them yet, and Hermione was not in the mood to help him.

“Memorize all that, and you better be ready tomorrow! DON’T SCREW THIS UP! We will practice during break when I return from my Arithmancy class tomorrow,” she said and entered the portrait hole. People had stopped to watch them afraid of making a move and having Hermione turn on them.

“Harry?” Ron said once Hermione had disappeared inside. “Bloody Hell, I’ve haven’t seen Hermione that mad before. What did you do?” Ron asked helping Harry to his feet.

“I really screwed up,” Harry replied. He felt terribly bad that he’d stood up Hermione on this project, but he also couldn’t help but feel that she was overreacting.

“I’ll say,” Ron added picking up the parchments that Hermione had slammed on the floor.

“Have you seen my glasses?” Harry asked squinting. He could hear the murmur of people going by who had witnessed the whole thing and couldn’t help but feel his ears turn hot, and his face was boiling. He really felt guilty, and he also felt that Hermione was justified in her anger. She had been pestering him forever to get that project finished, and one way or another Harry had managed to convince her to put it off, at least his part. It was no easy feat, she had done most of her share, and he still had his to finish. They had agreed to take the whole afternoon to do it today, and she had been nagging him all week to not forget. And what does he do? He completely forgets about it!

“Here,” Ron said handing Harry his glasses.

“Thanks.” Harry said and put them on.

“Come on,” Ron called to him as he said the password to the Fat Lady (Bubbleblast gum)

“I’d rather not go in there,” Harry said not quire ready to confront Hermione again.

Ron stuck his head in to the common room and scanned the area for a while. “She’s not in here. She must have gone to her room,” Ron said to Harry. Harry simply nodded and followed after Ron. Harry headed straight up to his room. When it was time for dinner, Harry and Ron headed to the Great Hall. They had waited for Hermione for a little bit, but she wasn’t in the common room. They noticed that she was missing from the Gryffindor table as well.

Harry sat next to Neville. He was holding his Remembrall and was concentrating hard trying to remember what it is that he had obviously forgotten. The Remembrall was glowing scarlet in Neville’s hand.

“Hi Neville,”

“Oh, Hello Harry. You wouldn’t happen to know by any chance what it is that I am forgetting, do you?” Neville asked looking hopeless.

“Erm, let’ see. Anything related to class?”

Neville thought for a minute. “Nope, I have all of my coursework done, project is done, essay is done. That’s not it,” he said as he still gazed at his Remembrall which hadn’t changed colour, meaning that he still was forgetting something.

“How about something for today? Were you supposed to be anywhere tonight?” Ron piped in as he picked a honey glazed roll and took a bite.

“Mmmm, nope.”

“Did you forget to feed Trevor?” Parvati, who was sitting next to Ron asked. It had become a routine for the sixth year Gryffindors to help Neville when he forgot something.

“No, Hermione reminded me earlier about that,” Neville answered still pensive. Harry’s stomach fell to his feet at the mention of her name, and he noticed even more that she wasn’t there.

“Oi! I know! You forgot to go to Potions!” Fred exclaimed and the color drained from Neville’s face.

“Fred, that’s not nice! You were there Neville, remember Malfoy got rat brain splattered all over his robes?” Ron said after glaring at Fred.

Neville sighed relieved. “That’s right; I forgot to add the powdered hoal root before I stirred the potion twice. That reminds me! I have detention with Snape tomorrow night!” Neville exclaimed and hoped that the Remembrall would clear. It was still shining crimson.

“What are you guys doing?” Lavender asked joining the group.

“We’re trying to figure what Neville forgot,” Parvati answered.

“Oh, so sorry I’m late Neville. You asked me in Herbology today to remind you to write a letter to your grandmother about some plant or other,” Lavender said as she sat down.

“That’s it!” Neville exclaimed and grinned as the smoke inside his Remembrall returned to white. Neville stood up. “I better go before I forget!” He said as he pulled a little notepad from his pocket. He took a little pen that was tied to it by a string.

“What’s this?” George asked pointing to the items in Neville’s hand.

“Dean gave me these,” Neville replied as he scribbled ‘Write letter to grandmother’.
“It’s a Muggle ‘notepad’ and an ink ‘pen’; this is like parchment but it’s held together with this coiled wire thingy, and this ‘pen’ is like a self inking quill. He suggested I write down things when I remember them; that way I can check off the list or check when I forget something. It fits in my pocket nicely,” he showed them as he pocketed the notepad. “It works really nice when I remember to use it,” he added sheepishly.

“Uhm, Neville?”

“Yes?”

“Letter to Grandmother?”

“Oh yeah, right. I’ll see you guys later,” Neville said blushing as he left to go to the common room.

It was time for Harry to go to detention with Professor Donovan. As he left, Harry noticed that Hermione hadn’t showed up for dinner at all. He supposed she was still mad at him. He hoped to catch her when he returned to the common room. He would probably not sleep tonight if he had to memorize all of that stuff Hermione had thrown at him today. It was going to be a long night.

Harry didn’t see Hermione for the rest of the night, nor was she at the table during breakfast on Friday morning. Ron had helped Harry memorize all, or as much, of the information in his presentation; but Harry had to make little index cards with points, and things to remember. They waited for Hermione so they could go to Care of Magical creatures together, but they had finally gone ahead. She was already there, and completely ignored Harry while she spoke with Ron. People were giving Harry sideway glances, then heads would get together and he could hear whispers.

It completely irritated him that people always wanted to gossip about what he had done. Harry followed Hermione at a distance and in silence as they headed back to the common room.

“Are you ready?” She finally asked once they reached the common room and she had set out the easels with the posters, charts, and other stuff.

“Erm, I think so… I mean, yeah…” Harry corrected when he received a glare from Hermione. It was obvious that the only reason she was speaking to him was because of the project.

“Right, I’ll start of with the introduction; I’ll state the purpose of the study and then you…” She said waiting for him to speak.

Harry flipped through his index cards… “Erm, I’ll begin explaining about the history of the spell…”

“Correct, then I’ll demonstrate the incantation, and explain the wand movement and its variations, and you?”

“I’ll then go on about what happens if you make a mistake… erm, let’s see… known cases of backfired attempts… ahm, yeah, then I’ll go over this diagram…”

Harry noticed that Hermione’s expression seemed to soften a little. Perhaps she was feeling better that Harry wasn’t going to completely screw this up.

“All right, we have about 25 minutes, so let’s go over the whole presentation. We were to keep it under 10 minutes. Let’s start,” Hermione said and began the presentation.

Harry nervously flipped through his cards, and fumbled through his part. He could see Hermione become more upset as the time dwindled.

“NO NO NO! Seventeeth Century, for God’s sake!” Hermione screamed stopping Harry for the tenth time in the last two minutes.

“Will you just shut up and let me finish!”

“You are going to screw it all up! My marks depend on this as much as yours! If you hadn’t been wasting your TIME YESTERDAY…” Hermione barked back at Harry, but Harry screamed back at her… his time with his girlfriend was not a waste!

“Come off it! It’s not like we’re going to fail, and McGonagall will clearly award you more points than me…”

“AS IF! WE’RE SUPPOSED TO WORK ON THIS TOGETHER! THIS IS A TEAM PROJECT, IF YOU DIDN’T WANT TO WORK ON IT YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME AND I WOULD HAVE DONE IT MYSELF! OH WAIT, THAT’S RIGHT, I DID DO IT MYSELF AND IF…”

“YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SUCH A GODDAMMED INSUFERABLE KNOW-IT-ALL!!!”
Harry bellowed at her, the common room became uncommonly silent as everyone turned to stare at the pair. Harry was sorry the moment the words left his mouth.
Hermione breathed hard, blinking, trying to stop the tears that threatened.

“Fine!” She said through gritted teeth and began to stuff her bag. “Fine!” she said a bit louder and Harry could hear the strain in her voice. “FINE!” She finally screamed at him, and picked up their presentation things.

“Hermione, I’m sor…”

“F*** YOU!” she screamed at him enraged and threw the easel, and posters and notes in his face, grabbed her school bag and stormed out of the common room.

Ron ran over to Hermione to try and stop her, but she yanked her arm away from him and shrilled a few things at him that made him stop and look at her incredulous. She ran out of the Portrait hole.

Ron came over to Harry who for the second time was on the floor, stunned after Hermione’s departure.

“I didn’t mean it,” Harry said in a quiet voice as he stood up.

“I know, mate” Ron said as he helped Harry pick up the things for the presentation.

Hermione ran out of the common room, not even bothering with the people that stood in her way. She only managed to make it down to the sixth floor and darted into a deserted corridor. She leaned against the wall and cried. After a while, she looked at her watch, and saw that she had five minutes to get to Transfiguration. She wiped her tears furiously, and began to walk away towards the staircase leading down to the East Wing. She didn’t notice the blond boy smirking, who was casually leaning against the wall behind a statue of armour.

Malfoy lazily flicked his wand towards her retreating back. He muttered the tripping jinx, and watched with satisfaction as Hermione fumbled forward. Instead of falling flat on her face, Hermione stumbled a few steps, obviously fighting the jinx. She teetered over the edge of the staircase, her arms flailing trying to balance herself. Hermione screamed as she finally fell over and rolled down the steps. She came to a stop in the middle landing, opened her eyes and saw the outline of a person at the top of the stairs, but her vision was blurry and she couldn’t see who it was.

“Help,” she managed to croak, but the person gasped, turned around and fled. Darkness suddenly engulfed her.


Chapter 31: Dating Business
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Chapter 31

Dating Business


“Hermione? Help is on the way…” A soft, cool voice said to her and she felt someone grab her hand. Hermione opened her eyes to see a very handsome face, dark long hair framing his face.

Hermione…

“Sirius?” Hermione whispered and her eyes focused on his grey-blue eyes. She gasped as she saw the pleading in Sirius’ face. Please hurry…

“What was that?”

Hermione’s vision finally cleared, and she could focus on deep dark brown eyes that were looking at her with concern. She was looking perplexed at the handsome boy that looked back with worry. Had she imagined Sirius’ voice and face? Hermione gasped as she realized that Sirius was probably trying to communicate with her. She must tell Harry! Hermione winced as she tried to move. The boy gently pressed a hand against her to keep her from moving.

“Don’t move, I think you’ve got a broken rib,” Terrence said to her with a frown,
“Leslie went to get help,” he said and Hermione nodded, struggling against the pain that had suddenly become alive now that she was awake. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she closed them trying to control the pain.

“Merlin Dear!” Professor Sinistra exclaimed as she clambered up the steps, Leslie Dimitrev, a 7th year Prefect from Ravenclaw, was following behind.

“What happened?” She asked as she knelt next to Hermione.

“We were walking to class from the Prefect Bathroom when we heard a scream and someone tumbling down the steps,” Leslie began, “so we ran this way up the stairway; we found her like this,” she added.

Professor Sinistra paralyzed Hermione to keep her from moving, and charmed her body to levitate it. She was afraid of letting her move for fear that the broken rib would puncture her lung. Leslie collected Hermione’s book bag, as Terrence conjured a stretched and gingerly moved it directly underneath Hermione. Hermione whimpered as she was released and was gently set onto the stretcher.

Sinistra instructed Terrance to head over to McGonagall’s classroom and inform her of Hermione’s condition since she was her head of house, while she levitated the stretcher to the Hospital Wing.

Harry sat with Ron in the Transfiguration classroom and looked nervously at Hermione’s empty seat. Professor McGonagall entered the room, her eyes flicked to Hermione’s seat and Harry thought she saw a flicker of a frown.

“Good morning class, today we will begin the presentations on your team projects…” There was a knock on the door, and the Head Boy appeared.

“Mr. Granchester, may I help you?” McGonagall asked noticing the tall young man at the door. She walked over to him, and they spoke in hushed tones, then she nodded.

“Thank you,” she said as she dismissed him.

“Please continue practicing transfiguring your ears into rabbit ears, the instructions are on page 357 of your books. I need to depart for a few moments,” she said and her eyes lingered on Harry and Ron before she stepped outside the classroom. She returned about ten minutes later.

“Potter, Weasley… may I have a word with you…” she said and Harry and Ron looked at each other. Hermione still had not showed up, and they wondered if something was wrong.

McGonagall closed the door of her classroom, and faced them.

“Harry, your presentation will have to be re-scheduled to next week. It seems that Miss Granger has suffered an accident…”

“What sort of accident?”
“What happened?”

“She fell down the staircase leading down from the sixth floor to the East Wing. She’s suffered a few broken bones, and some bruises… but she will be all right. It will take her a good part of an hour to mend her bones, but should be good as new by lunch time. Now, let’s get back to class and you can go to the Hospital Wing to visit her once class is over.”

Harry felt as if the bottom of his stomach had fallen off. He really hoped that their earlier argument wasn’t the cause of her accident. Once Transfiguration was over, the pair ran all the way to the Hospital Wing. Just before they reached the set of double doors, Veronica spotted Harry.

“Harry…!”

“I’ll see you in there,” Ron said and went through the set of double doors, while Harry waited for Veronica to catch up.

“What’s wrong?” She asked seeing his concerned face. Harry quickly told her that Hermione was injured and in the Hospital Wing.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear, I guess I won’t keep you, but I just wanted to ask you something quick… will you be my tutor for flying lessons? I didn’t get an acceptable in my OWL, and I guess in England I can’t go for an apparition license if I don’t get my flying permit…” she said a bit crossed.

“Yeah, no problem… when do you want lessons?” He asked wondering how he would fit it all in his busy schedule.

“We will be using flying class time with personal tutors, so Fridays, the last class of the day.”

“Yeah, that’ll work.”

“Great! Thanks… I’ll see you then,” she said and gave him a hug and quick kiss on the lips. “Hope Hermione is ok,” she added as an afterthought as she hurried to go to the Great Hall for lunch.

Hermione opened her eyes when she heard Ron’s voice asking Madam Pomfrey to see her.

“I’m sorry I yelled at…”

“Shhh, don’t mention it. I know you didn’t mean it,” Ron said smiling at her.

“Thanks.”

“How are you feeling?” He asked taking a seat next to her.

“I’m all right, I just have to wait for this last potion’s sideffects to wear off a bit before I can go,” she replied and Ron noticed her fallen face, and her eyes flick over to the door way. His face fell a little wondering what she was thinking and sighed.

“Harry’s coming. Veronica caught up with him just as I came in,” he said and smiled, albeit feeling a bit defeated.

The set of double doors opened and Harry strode in. He looked grim as he took a seat next to Hermione. He gingerly clutched her hand.

“Hermione, I am so sorry…” he began.

“It’s all right; I was rather being a bit of a pain about the whole project thing,” she said and smiled at him.

Harry smiled back glad to have that over with. He promised her that he would dedicate all of tomorrow, except for Quidditch practice time, to her and the project. Hermione beamed at him. Ron felt himself shrink in his seat, and finally realized he had dug his nails into his palms.

“What happened?” Harry asked breaking the silence and Hermione told them about what she could remember.

“You couldn’t really see who it was?” Ron asked furious. Hermione shook her head.

“Who else!?” Harry said with venom, “Malfoy! That’s who!” he said as he clenched his fists.

“I don’t know for sure,” Hermione said although she too had a nagging feeling that it had been him.

“Who else would enjoy seeing you fall, and probably even hope that you broke your neck and died at the bottom of the steps!?” Harry spat seething with anger.

“I know, but what if whoever did it didn’t mean for me to fall down the steps, and they ran because they were afraid of actually what happened? Let’s just not do anything stupid for now and see if we can actually find out before we do anything,” Hermione said and Harry and Ron reluctantly agreed.

“So, what did Veronica want?” Ron asked to change the subject, and Hermione flinched, but she said it was the potion working on her bones. Harry understood; he’d once had his bones re-grown which was far worse than just mending them. Ron’s face seemed to darken. Hermione looked uncomfortable, but Harry didn’t notice either of their reactions.

“She asked me to be her tutor for flying lessons,” said Harry.

“She’s taking flying lessons?” Ron asked surprised trying to get his other thoughts from his head. Hermione frowned.

“Yeah, she said that in Honduras they didn’t have lessons or tests or anything for flying, so she failed the test here to get an equivalency grade,”

Hermione frowned some more.

“What’s wrong?”

“I completely forgot about the tutor thing,” she said hastily, and turned to Ron, “can you be my tutor for flying?” She asked and Ron looked at her. Hermione looked away.

“Lavender… uhm… she asked me this morning during breakfast and since you hadn’t asked either one of us we thought maybe you didn’t need one… I already told her I’d do it,”

“Oh,” Hermione replied and nodded. “I guess I’ll just have to ask someone else then, Madam Hooch did say that there are a few volunteers for tutors for class, so maybe I’ll just speak with her then,” she replied and then asked about Transfiguration. Harry wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but there was this sudden tension between the three of them. It was as if neither wanted to be anywhere else at the moment, yet at the same time they couldn’t bear to be together. He had seen the way Ron and Hermione were acting, and a tiny voice had told him not to be surprised. He’d known all along that Ron had feelings for Hermione, and he thought Hermione reciprocated them. In fact, he remembered wishing last year that they would wake up and get it over with. He hadn’t expected this horrible feeling of dread that was making his chest feel as if a vice had been placed on his heart. Maybe he was just afraid that if Ron and Hermione got together, their friendship would suffer, and the trio would break up.

The three of them had lunch in the Hospital Wing as they waited for Hermione to finish healing, but they barely spoke with each other.

Finally Madam Pomfrey deemed Hermione completely healed and the three of them headed to the common room so Ron and Harry could collect their brooms, and Hermione went to drop her things.

They walked out to the Quidditch pitch where 6th and 7th year flying class was held. Since it was only a handful of students from 6th year and 7th year who didn’t pass the flying test, both years were taught together.

Veronica waved to Harry and she joined the group. She held one of the school brooms in her hand. Lavender joined the group as well, and Hermione excused herself to go talk to Madam Hooch. Both Harry and Ron watched her go.

“Thanks for helping me out with this,” Lavender spoke catching Ron’s attention.

“Wha.. uhm, yeah, no problem…” Ron said and felt his ears turn red when he finally realized the way in which Lavender was looking at him. He turned to look at Harry, who was holding Veronica’s hand but was barely paying attention to what she was saying. He seemed to have found Veronica’s fingers quite fascinating at the moment.

As Hermione approached, she saw several girls crowding around Madam Hooch and a tall young man she recognized as Terrence Granchester, the Head Boy. He appeared aloof, and was completely ignoring the girls who were obviously trying to get his attention. Then his eyes focused on Hermione. He moved forward without looking at anyone but her, the other girls parted to let him pass, then glared at Hermione.

“Hermione, I am glad to see you’ve recovered,” he said with a soft, steady voice.

“Thanks for your help,” she said and he nodded.

“Ms. Granger, did you ask someone to be your tutor?” Madam Hooch interrupted, looking at the clipboard in her hands.

Hermione was about to shake her head, when Terrence spoke.

“I can offer my help to Miss Granger,” he said in a cool voice. The glare from the girls around Madam Hooch intensified, and Hermione couldn’t help but feel a blush crawl up her cheeks. “…if you wouldn’t mind, of course?” He said lifting an eyebrow to her.

“Uhm, no… not at all…” she said and smiled.

“Good, now, let’s see… Fentley, Rogue, Begleban… who else needs a tutor?” Madam Hooch asked turning her attention to the gathered girls.

“I didn’t know you were taking this class,” Terrence said as the pair began to walk towards Harry, Ron, Veronica, and Lavender.

Hermione blushed furiously, thoroughly embarrassed. Terrence didn’t wait for an answer. “I’ve volunteered every year since I’ve made the Quidditch team,” he said and turned to her, “if it hadn’t been for my tutor, I would have never made it into the team,” he said and gave her a small, almost private smile.

“Really? I wouldn’t guess that from the way you fly,” she said smiling back feeling a bit better. Here was the Head Boy telling her that he had also needed help. She also couldn’t remember the last, or first time, she had seen him smile. It seemed rare, yet precious in a way. Terrence Granchester had the reputation of being a loner; he was polite, courteous, but also aloof. He didn’t hang out with anyone, yet he was known by many. Hermione had always seen him under the shade of a large tree by the lake, always alone. She had wondered how he ended up being Head Boy. He rarely spoke during the meetings with the prefects, only to give out enough information to get the job done. He was rarely ever in the Great Hall during meals, and yet, half of the school female population almost swooned whenever he passed. Hermione hadn’t really thought that there was anything attractive in him, besides his handsome face.

“I was in first form and I really wanted to be able to try out for Quidditch, no one from first year had ever made it into a team for more than a century or so, but I tried anyway. I was knocked unconscious by a bludger, and I was so afraid to get back on a broom after that. I failed Flying misserably my first year. Kathy Kettlebuns was my neighbor and she really encouraged me back on the broom. She was made captain of the Ravenclaw team during my second year, and if it hadn’t been for her… I would have never gotten back on a broom again. I told her I owed her, and she said that the way to pay her back was to do the same in kind to someone else,”

“She must have been a great instructor, now you’re the team captain,” Hermione said intrigued by the story, it completely showed a person that she couldn’t imagine it being him. “Kathy Kettlebun? I remember her…” Hermione said after thinking for a bit, “she was always in the library during my first year; she was always helping someone or other with their homework.”

“Yes, that sounds like her… she was always helping everyone. She’s now a Healer in St. Mungos. We still keep in touch…” Terrence said as they joined the others, and Hermione noticed that the smile had left his face.

“Hey guys, this is Terrence Granchester, he’s going to be my tutor,” Hermione introduced Terrence to everyone.

“Terry, please call me Terry,” he said looking at Hermione, almost ignoring everyone else.

“Hello Terry,” Veronica said and beamed at him, he nodded at her, but he didn’t smile back.

“Potter, Weasley,” he said acknowledging their presence. Hermione turned to introduce Lavender, and didn’t notice the glare coming from Harry and Ron. Terry seemed oblivious, or didn’t care about their glare. Harry and Ron knew him since he played as a chaser for the Ravenclaw team, and now that Roger Davies had left Hogwarts, he had been made Team Captain this year.

“This is Lavender Brown, she’s in my year… ” Hermione said introducing Lavender who excitedly shook his hand, and acted a bit like those girls fawning over Terry.

There was a whistle from Madam Hooch who explained how to use their time with their tutors and left them each to practice. She would be around for help.

Harry and Ron could barely concentrate on their pupils, as they constantly watched Terry and Hermione. They didn’t seem to be practicing flying, but were instead deeply discussing something. Madam Hooch approached them, and after a few words with them, she left them. They still didn’t even mount their brooms. Finally, when the class was over, they headed back to the castle in a group. Terry held Hermione back for a few moments, then retreated to his favorite spot. Hermione caught up with Lavender, Ron, Harry, and Veronica going up the staircases.

“What the hell were you talking to him about the whole class?” Ron asked trying to not sound annoyed.

“He was telling me lots of facts about brooms, and flying…” Hermione replied defensively.

“That won’t get you to fly!” Ron replied.

“How do you know?” She said and hurried up the staircase. Lavender looked at Ron, smiled a bit coquettishly, and went after Hermione. Ron looked confused.

Veronica sniggered a little bit; “I’ll see you during dinner…” she said and kissed Harry on the cheek “Chao Ron,”

“Erm, What? Oh, yeah… bye…” Ron said and watched her go down a different set of stairs towards the Ravenclaw tower.

“Let’s get to the common room,” Harry said feeling a ball of mixed feelings in his stomach.

“Women,” Ron grumbled as he followed Harry up the steps.

****
Harry plopped down on a couch in the common room and lied down; his head was buzzing. Today’s lesson in Occlumency with Snape had been even worse than the last time. Harry did feel a bit satisfied about the Tarantallegra hex he had inadvertently sent to Snape when Snape had almost seen Harry’s memory of meeting Veronica that first night. It had been utterly humiliating to Snape as his feet began to do a stupid dance in front of Harry. Still, Harry had paid for that one few seconds afterwards.

Ron entered the common room with a foul looking face.

“What’s wrong with you?” Harry asked intrigued.

“We’ve just had a Prefect meeting and guess what?” Ron replied as he shoved Harry’s feet violently from the couch and sat down on the spot Harry’s feet had occupied.

“What?”

“There’s going to be a stupid Halloween ball, and Prefects have to attend; we can’t skip! The last ball I went to was a disaster…” Ron huffed, thinking about his date with Padma Patil. Also, visions of Hermione with Krum entered his mind.

“It can’t be that bad,” Harry replied off-handedly. This year he had someone to take as a date, and wouldn’t resort to the last minute date like last time. Ron looked a little hurt and betrayed.

“Are you going to ask anyone?” Harry said looking at Ron.

Ron blushed, “Yeah.” Harry thought he heard Ron mumble something along the lines of ‘this time I won’t wait to the last minute.’ Harry tried to grin, knowing very well who Ron was thinking about, but somehow he truly didn’t feel it.

“Who?”

“Hey,” Hermione said as she motioned Harry to sit up right and sat down in between Ron and Harry. Ron had seemed to jump about 10 feet from the couch, startled by her. “Did you tell Harry about the party?” Hermione asked him.

Ron nodded as he nervously fumbled with his hands.

“I’ve just put up the poster…” Hermione said and sure enough, a group of people were already starting to crowd around the notice board. Ron at that moment seemed to make up his mind when he noticed Neville giving Hermione a nervous look. Harry had to bite his tongue to keep from crying out.

“Herm…”

“Excuse me? Ron?” A small voice said from behind them, interrupting him. Ron turned around to look at who was calling his name, and saw Bianca Malfoy standing nervously there.

“Yeah?” Ron asked puzzled, and a little annoyed. He was about to ask Hermione out to the dance with him.

“Haveyouaskenyonetotheballyet?” Bianca blurted in one word.

“What?” Ron asked alarmed, and a little flabbergasted.

“Have you asked anyone to the dance?”

Harry, Ron and Hermione looked at each other stunned. Bianca came around the couch to face the three of them.

“No, but I was…”

“Oh good,” Bianca exclaimed then rushed to continue… “…because I want you to take me to the dance…” she said to him.

“YOU WHAT?” Ron said with disbelief, and began to laugh. Harry and Hermione looked at each other, their mouths were open.

“Oh… that’s a good one Malfoy…” Ron noticed that Bianca hadn’t left, nor that she looked at all like she was laughing. He stopped laughing. “You don’t actually expect me to take you to the dance, do you?” Ron said with disbelief.

She nodded all too serious.

“You can’t ask me to the dance anyway!” Ron said becoming annoyed, “you’re only a first year and the ball is for fourth years and up,” he replied to her a bit roughly.

“That’s exactly why you will ask me to go with you,” Bianca replied in an off-handed way.

“I think you have completely fallen of your rocker if you think that I’m going to ask you to the bloody dance!” Ron spat now glaring openly at her as he stood up. He didn’t care that the whole common room was now staring.
Harry and Hermione were surprised to see that Bianca didn’t seem faced by this. A smirk crossed her face that made her look too much like her brother.

“You pretty much don’t have a choice…” she replied calmly.

“You are testing my patience Malfoy! Leave before…”

Bianca cut him off. “I am not leaving until you pay me what you owe me. I won a match of chess against you and we bet that the winner would ask anything and the loser would do it. As you have pointed out, I can’t go to the dance unless someone asks me… I want you, as payment of your bet, to ask me and take me to the dance!” She replied and waited expectantly for his response.

“I am not taking you anywhere!”

“Yes, you will… you promised and we shook hands remember? That’s a magically bounded contract, either you do this that I ask or it will be worse if you break that promise,”

Ron’s face fell into a look of horror-stricken disbelief. His mouth opened, closed, then opened again, then closed. The color in his face was turning from a light shade of red to purple. Harry thought that Ron was about to explode.

“You. better. not. expect. me. to. dance!” Ron finally managed to say through gritted teeth. Harry and Hermione gaped at Ron. Had he just agreed?

“I don’t need you to stay with me, I just need you to get me through the doors,” Bianca replied as she lifted her nose in the air, turned around, flicking the sheet of golden blond hair to her back and walked away.

Ron sat down fuming, his hands clenched into white-knuckled fists.

“Are you seriously going to take her?” Harry asked not sure he really believed it.

“I have no choice, you heard her. I promised and shook her hand…” Ron spat with bad temper.

“All right, don’t bite my head off for your stupid bets!” Harry snapped, and Ron just glared at him, crossed his arms and didn’t answer.

“Is it true?” Ginny asked rushing to the trio, taking one of the nearest chairs, and looking at Ron with disbelief. Ron simply groaned, he supposed half the school knew by now.

Ginny engulfed Ron in a hug. “I knew you wouldn’t be such a prat…” she said and beamed at him.

“You want me to go with Malfoy’s sister?”

“I’m just glad you didn’t do anything stupid. She asked me what you would say if she asked you and I told her that you would bite her head off, but she said she’d ask you anyway… I am just sorry I missed the whole thing,” Ginny said sitting down next to them. Ron didn’t speak again, and Harry thought that someone should poke him with a sharp object because he was about to blow up from the pressure of his anger building.

“Are you asking Veronica?” Ginny asked startling Harry, and Harry nodded automatically.

“Are you going with anyone?” Harry asked in return.

“Yeah, I suppose I’ll go with Dean,” Ginny replied with a shrug. “What about you Hermione?”

“Well, no one has asked really,” Hermione said shrugging. Ron growled, and Harry felt his gut twist for some reason.

“Are you holding out for anyone?” Ginny asked with interest. Both Harry and Ron looked at Hermione expectantly.

“Not really, I guess I’ll pretty much go with the first one who asks…” Hermione said looking a bit crestfallen. Harry thought Ron looked like he was about to kick himself. At that moment, a large raven entered the common room and landed on the table in front of Hermione. A little note was clasped in its beak. It dropped the note in front of Hermione, and Hermione took it looking puzzled. The raven took off at once.

“Who is it from?”

“It’s from Zibiki! He says that he’s got a lead on the elven text we asked about and that he thinks he will be able to find it. He’ll let us know when he returns from his trip if he’s been successful or not,” Hermione replied looking at Harry.

“Who’s Zibiki?” Ginny asked interested.

“He’s the owner of the rare books store in Hogsmeade, Gathoka’s Rare collections,” Hermione replied and pocketed the note. “I’d ask for a really rare book that I wanted and he said he might be able to find it, but he would let me know. It’s pretty expensive, so I asked for a price as soon as he had it to see if I could afford it or not. He says in his note he’d let me know as soon as he knows the price,” Hermione replied with a smile.

A black owl swept into the common room and landed in front of Hermione.

“Who’s that from?” Harry asked as Hermione took the note, read it and re-read it, and a blush crept on her cheeks. The owl remained on the table obviously waiting for a response.

“It’s from Terry,” Hermione replied with somewhat disbelief.

“Boot?” Ron asked with shock and Harry thought he looked murderous.

“No, Granchester…”

“The Head Boy?” Ginny asked excited and shoved Harry from the seat next to Hermione, and took his spot to peek in her letter. Harry glared at her and sat across the table in a stuffed armchair. Hermione nodded and moved the letter towards Ginny. Ginny gasped and burst in a fit of giggles.

“What does he want?” Both Ron and Harry asked at the same time.

“He’s asking me to the dance,” Hermione replied quietly.

“TERRY GRANCHESTER JUST ASKED YOU TO THE DANCE!” Parvati squealed in a huge gasp making Hermione jump. She hadn’t noticed Pavarti was behind them. The whole common room seemed to have stopped conversation. Hermione felt her face would melt off her head.

“WHAT!??” Lavender screamed from a nearby chair where she was in conversation with Neville, ran to Hermione and shoved Ron out of the way to read. Parvati sat on the arm of the couch, and leaned over Lavender. The four girls read Hermione’s note again.

Dearest Hermione,

You managed to slip out of the meeting tonight before I had a chance to ask for a moment of your time. I know that this is not the best show of gallantry, but I fear that someone will ask before I have the chance to ask you properly. I may already be too late, yet I send this note with the hope that I am the first, and that you will accept my invitation to attend this year’s Halloween Masquerade Ball as my date.

Sincerely yours,

Terry Granchester


“That is soooo romantic!” Parvati said in a dreamy way.

“OH MY GOD! Hermione! The hottest boy in the whole 7th year has asked you to go with him!” Lavender said as she bounced up and down, almost throwing Parvati to the floor. “I am so jealous!” The owl hooted indignantly and ruffled his feathers in disapproval of the entire racket.

“You are saying yes! Right?” Lavender said giving Hermione a threatening look.

“Well…” Hermione blushed

“Of course she’s saying yes! She just said she would say yes to the first bloke that asked,” Ginny answered for her. Ron gaped at her.

“Here, you must answer him at once!” Parvati said shoving a glaringly bright pink quill into Hermione’s hands.

Hermione gave a sideways glance to Harry and Ron, took the quill and wrote a quick answer. She gave it to the handsome owl standing in front of her, which took it in its beak and took off.

Lavender began chattering about how exciting it would be to go to the ball.

“Oh, it’s going to be great, now I just have to get a date…” Lavender said and gave Ron a sideways glance which he didn’t notice because he was too busy brooding.

“Soooo, Ron? Fancy going to the ball with me?” Lavender said casually. Parvati giggled. Ginny threw a ball of parchment to Ron’s head. Harry and Hermione looked at Ron expectantly.

“Hey!”

“Lavender’s asking you out to the ball,” Ginny said and Ron blinked stupidly at Lavender who was blushing.

Ron growled something.

“What?”

“I said I’ve got to take Malfoy to the dance ‘cause I lost a bet…” Ron said crossing his arms and glaring at them all.

“Do you want to go with her?” Lavender asked and didn’t seem to mind.

“What? ME! Want to go to with Malfoy!? I’d rather eat a bucket of slugs!” Ron spat, his face darkened even more.

“Well, you don’t have to spend the whole time with her; I mean… she said she just needed you to get her through the doors…” Harry offered and Ron shot him a nasty look.

“So, what do you say? Want to be my real date to the ball? You can take us both to the dance,” Lavender said and Parvati shook her head and rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, whatever…” Ron said not in the mood to disagree.

“ ‘ello,” Joséphine said walking towards the group.

“Hi Joséphine.”

“Parvati, may I ‘ave your ‘elp?”

“Yeah, of course… erm, what with?”

“Neveelle Longbottom ‘as ask me to zhe ‘alloween ball and I ‘ave accepted,” Joséphine replied and they all turned to look at Neville stunned. He waved sheepishly, his face shining a bright pink.

“I don’t know if eet will be possible to receive a dress from France before the dance. I ‘ave ‘eard that your Aunt designs tres jolie dresses and disguises, I would like to consult a magazeene…” Joséphine said with a pleasant smile.

“Oh, I have tons of the newest catalogues. Here, come up to my room. They are all in my trunk…” Parvati said getting up, taking Hermione’s hand in hers and pulling her up. “There’s this gorgeous dress that I think you will look great in!” She said to Hermione. Ginny and Lavender followed them as they began to talk about what to wear. Harry noticed another 7th year girl join them along the way.

Neville came up to sit with Ron and Harry.

“Did you really ask Joséphine to the dance?”

Neville nodded his head with disbelief. “I was going to ask Hermione again; last time she said that she would have gone with me if no one else had asked, and I was practicing what to say, and Joséphine happened to walk by, and she said… ‘zat is sweet, yes… I will go with you,’ and gave me a kiss on the cheek,” Neville replied still incredulous. Then he grinned. “I guess that works out fine now that Hermione was asked by the Head Boy,” Neville said and began to talk about if he should order new robes. Harry and Ron looked at each other when they noticed the murderous look on Fred as George was dragging him out of the common room. They would have to keep an eye out for Neville.


Chapter 32: In a Different Light
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Chapter 32

In a Different Light


Harry walked across the ground towards the Quidditch pitch, his broom slung over his shoulder.

“Harry, wait up!” Ron yelled from behind running to catch up to him. Harry slowed enough to let him catch up.

The two walked together into the pitch and spotted Lavender and Veronica waiting for them. They headed over to them.

“Here’s what Madam Hooch wants us to practice today,” Lavender said to Ron handing him a parchment with some instructions.

“All right, sounds easy enough,” Ron said although he barely glanced at the parchment and was looking around for Hermione. He spotted her with Terry several yards away. They were once again talking, although this time they each had brooms.

Veronica was already on her broom and Harry was explaining the fine touches of steering the broom while on a dive, as explained in the ‘Emergency Landing’ instructions. He glanced over to where Hermione and Terry were standing.

Harry saw Terry motion to Hermione to mount her broom, but she seemed reluctant.

“You said you had flown a broom before,” Terry said when he noticed the fear enter Hermione’s eyes.

“Yes, but…”

“So what happened that made you change your mind?” He asked casually as he stood his broom and propped himself against it.

Hermione turned somewhat red. “Well, you see… the summer before my fifth year, I was in Bulgaria with a friend…”

“Viktor Krum?” He asked raising his eyebrows. “I read the Prophet,” he said noticing her ‘how did you know’ look. Hermione blushed and nodded.

“He’s a Quidditch player, you know, and he coaxed me to play against him. I know nothing of actually playing Quidditch; long story short: I lost control of the broom; I ended in the Hospital for two days… I’ve never been able to fly comfortably since then…”

Terry nodded in understanding. “Are you afraid of heights?”

Hermione paused to think for a moment, “no, not really.”

“So it isn’t the fact that you fly high in the air that frightens you now, then?” He asked with a pensive expression.

“No, I guess it isn’t that,” Hermione answered the more she thought about it.

“So what it is that makes you afraid to return to flying a broom?”

“I don’t know…” She knew that there was this fear that gripped her the moment she sat on a broom, but now she knew it wasn’t because of the height… then what was it? She had flown last year on top of an invisible (to her anyway) horse, and although it had been somewhat of an alarming experience, it was different when she attempted to mount a broom.

“Here. Let’s just get you on this broom, and we can work on whatever feeling you get when you mount.” Terry said and encouraged her to mount the broom that was now floating beside her. He noticed her face paled a bit, but she nodded.

Hermione straddled the broom and gripped the handle tightly, turning her knuckles white.

“Now, I want you to let go of the handle and just straighten up,” Terry said as he moved to stand next to her.

Hermione seemed to concentrate hard, then barely whispered. “I can’t!”

“It’s all right, you won’t fall…”

“I… I can’t,” she said looking frightfully pale.

Terry spoke in a reassuring voice, “don’t worry, this broom won’t fly anywhere. It’s just an old broom I snatched from the cleaning closet. I’ve just put a Hover Charm on it. It won’t fly, even if you wanted it too.”

Hermione looked up surprised, and nodded… but she still couldn’t quite let go.

“Hermione, look at me,” Terry said and Hermione looked up and locked eyes with him. He extended his hands to her, “just let go and hold my hands…”

Hermione let go of her handle and quickly clasped his hands. He smiled brightly at her.

“See, still safe.”

Hermione smiled nervously.

“Now, I am going to make you hover just enough so your feet don’t touch the ground,” Terry said gripping her hands to keep her from grabbing onto the broom.
“Just remember that this broom doesn’t fly.”

Hermione took a deep breath and nodded. Terry slowly let go of one of her hands, and she clasped it to his other. He pulled out his wand and made the broom rise from the ground. Hermione clutched his hand tightly when she felt her feet leave the ground. The broom stopped when her feet where floating about an inch from the ground.

“Can you let go of my hands?” Terry asked gently and Hermione did so.

“Now, close your eyes,” Terry said and she did as asked, “and picture yourself hovering about five feet from the ground…”

Hermione quickly opened her eyes and noticed she was still in her same spot, blushed, and closed her eyes again and nodded.

“Keep your eyes closed, but now I am going to pull the broom with my hand. You can hold on to the handle if you like.” Hermione quickly did so.

“So let’s just pretend you are flying slowly… keep your eyes closed…”

Terry noticed Hermione become increasingly alarmed by the second the faster he pulled the broom.

“Stop!” She finally said and in a blink of an eye had dismounted the broom.

“What happened?” Terry asked her noticing that she looked terrified.

“I… I just felt as if the broom was going to take off…” she replied.

Terry was once again standing before her, the broom upright, and leaning against it.

“So you think it is fear of loosing control again that keeps you from maneuvering the broom?” He asked and she nodded.

“I think so,” she replied uncertain.

“We will just rid you of that fear,” he said with a smile. “Let’s just run through that again…” he said patiently as Hermione mounted the broom once again. She finally nodded when she was ready to rise a bit, then after a while Terry began to pull the broom with his hand. He was careful to make sure Hermione saw he had a firm grip on the broom. They did one circuit around the pitch.
Terry now told Hermione that he would guide the broom with his wand, while he walked next to her. They completed another circuit around the pitch, Terry guiding Hermione’s broom, and Hermione flying slowly, her toes actually touching the grass.

Hermione was talking seemingly more relaxed, and her white knuckled grip had relaxed. Terry said that it was good to keep her body as relaxed as possible. It made it a lot easier to maneuver the broom.

“I think you are ready for the next step,” Terry announced once Hermione had dismounted her broom.

“Which is?” Hermione asked uncertainly.

“I get to take you out for a spin on my broom,” he announced as he Accioed his broom from where it was leaning against the stands. Hermione looked scandalized.

“I promise I won’t go any higher than a meter from the ground,” he said looking into her eyes, locking his gaze with hers. Terry mounted his broom and sat a bit lower on the handle to accommodate two riders. Hermione felt her cheeks redden; all thoughts of falling off the broom escaped her when she realized she would be sitting right in front of him.

“Now, hop on,” he said patting the seat in front of him. Hermione sat on the handle sideways rather than straddling it. Terry glided forward to press against her.

“Now hold onto the broom handle,” he said, his face mere inches from her neck. Hermione took hold, and Terry placed his arms around her and grabbed onto the broom.

“Here we go,” said Terry and he gently pushed off the ground and they came to hover about a foot from the ground.

“How are you doing?” He asked in a low voice right by Hermione’s ear. She suddenly became aware of how close they were and shivered.

“F-Fine,” Hermione stammered to answer.

“I’ll start off going slow,” Terry said as he leaned a bit forward, pressing against Hermione and the broom began to move slowly around the pitch. Every so often, Terry increased the speed just a little bit, but they were still traveling quite slowly.

“Now I want you to guide the broom. I’ll maintain this speed and you can make it go wherever,” he once again spoke into her ear. Hermione nodded hastily.

He let go of the broom handle, and placed one arm around her waist. Hermione tried to concentrate on the broom handle and guiding the broom, and not on the warmth that was spreading from his arm around her waist. She veered left, then right, made a few zig-zags and some slow figure eights on the pitch.

They were the only pair of students flying so low on the ground, as everyone else was several feet higher working on doing a few maneuvers around the course set up by bright orange cones floating in the air. There were several skills that were tested in the flying exam to obtain their license, including things like flying at a fast speed, and applying the brakes while they had to stop within a certain distance, without losing control of the broom, or falling off. Other skills involved weaving around cones, performing sharp turns etc.

“Want to try going a few feet higher?” He asked and Hermione shook her head.

“You sure? You are doing great. Plus I’m right here with you… I won’t let you loose control,” he murmured and to confirm his words, he increased his grip around her waist.

“Ok,” Hermione managed to croak.

They rose up so that now they were about five feet in the air. Terry had slowed down again, so they were practically going slower than a roaming butterfly.

“You are doing excellent. Now, try some wide circles to the left,” he said and Hermione did so.

“Now to the right.”

“Excellent. Now I want you to guide us back down to the ground, and bring us to a halt.”

Hermione nodded and slowly pushed the broom handle down, lessening their altitude, then pulled on the handle to break. When they came to a complete stop, Terry dismounted the broom then held his hand to help Hermione to her feet.

“So, how was it?” He asked with a satisfied smile.

“It was not as scary by the end,” she replied not quite able to meet his eyes.

The bell rang signaling the end of class. People began touching down, and Hermione noticed the scowl on Ron’s face. Lavender looked positively excited for Hermione and waved enthusiastically at her. Hermione chanced a glance in Harry’s direction, and saw Veronica reach for him and kiss him deeply, her stomach gave a jolt, and she turned to look at Terry who was looking at her.

“Would you have a moment before dinner today?” He asked a bit cryptically.

“Erm, well… I promised Harry I would help him with a potions essay,” she said as she now saw Harry walking, hand in hand with Veronica, towards them.

“Harry, would you mind if I steal Hermione from you… for a few moments,” Terry said and Hermione did a double take between the two boys. She thought Terry’s choice of words peculiar.

“Erm, no actually, I was just going to ask Hermione if we could meet after dinner; I was going to take Veronica down to Hagrid’s,” Harry replied and he seemed to be bothered by Terry’s request.

“Oh, then that works perfect!” Veronica said sweetly and smiled with what Hermione would call a vicious sneer that Harry didn’t seem to notice.

Hermione smiled brightly at her, albeit too brightly Harry noticed. “Yes, it seems perfect. Let’s go Terry,” she said and Terry nodded a good-bye to the pair. “Shall we?” He asked Hermione and they headed back to the castle.

Harry tried to keep his attention on Veronica as they walked to Hagrid’s hut, but he couldn’t help the images of Terry wrapped around Hermione so tight while they flew about the pitch. It should be normal for him to be concerned about who hangs around Hermione, shouldn’t it? After all, her relationship with someone was bound to have an effect on their friendship. You’re just jealous… jealous? Me? Jealous of Hermione and dork boy? She’s just my friend, and besides… Ron fancies her and I… I’m just worried that she’ll go her own way and we won’t be like before...

Harry felt guilt then; he felt like the biggest hypocrite as he thought about his own relationship with Veronica. If anyone was affecting their friendship it was him. Since Veronica had come to Hogwarts, Harry spent most of his free time with her, and barely saw Ron and Hermione anymore, except for classes. Even during meals they barely had time to chat as Veronica was with him a lot of times. Harry also thought with a pang of guilt that the time he had been using to search about the veil was now occupied by time with Veronica. What if Sirius was alive, dying and Harry wasn’t doing all he could to save him? Another voice inside him asked if it wasn’t Voldemort’s trick…

“Harry?”

“Erm, what? Sorry…” Harry snapped from his musings and turned to Veronica.

“I said Hagrid’s over there by that horse-bird thing,” she said pointing to where Hagrid stood patting a Hippogriff. Harry recognized Buckbeack. They veered towards Hagrid’s location.

“’Ello Harry, better ye stay away fer now, and keep yer distance. B… erm, Whitherwing’s bit frisky today. ProudWings’ in heat, and a few other male Hippogriffs have showed up and he ain’t very sociable in this condition,” Hagrid said patting Buckbeack, while he turned his large yellow eyes to survey Harry.

Harry bowed to Buckbeack who didn’t hesitate to bow back, a pleased look in his eyes.

“Whitherwings really likes yeh Harry,” Hagrid said really pleased as Harry moved forward. Veronica made to follow, but Hagrid stopped her.

“Yeh need to bow firs’. Hippogriffs are very proud.”

Veronica bowed at Whiterwings, but he simply looked at her and refused to bow.

“Oh Dear, s’all right. Just back away slowly miss, and don’t look up,” Hagrid said cautiously, and Veronica did as told feeling a bit frightened.

Buckbeat turned his attention back to Harry, bowed to him, and Harry bowed back again and approached.

“We’ll be waitin fer yeh Harry,” Hagrid said moving Veronica closer to his hut.

“Hey, how are you? Hagrid says that you love being back. I bet you missed being free, huh?” Buckbeak made some crooning noises.

“Yeah, I miss him too. Well, I came to visit Hagrid. I am glad this arrangement is working just fine for you,” Harry said patting Buckbeak on the neck. Dumbledore had said that since Buckbeak had practically belonged to Sirius, it was now Harry’s. Harry hadn’t the faintest idea what he would do with a full grown Hippogriff, and seeing Hagrid at the funeral had given Harry the idea that he could take care of Buckbeak. Dumbledore had suggested they use a different name for the Hippogriff just to be on the safe side. Harry patted Buckbeak one last time and retreated back to where Veronica and Hagrid were waiting.

“I told yer friend that next time, once ProudWings is back to normal, that Buc… I mean, Whitherwings’ll be friendlier; he’s known Harry since his third year here,” Hagrid said turning to Veronica.

“It’s all right. He is rather daunting when seen closer, I would probably be too afraid and end up offending him,” Veronica said eyeing Buckbeack with trepidation.

“Yeh want some tea? I got some ready,” Hagrid invited them inside.

Harry introduced Hagrid to Veronica, and viceversa. Veronica let out a shriek as Fang sprung from the door when Hagrid opened it.

“Fang! Down Fang!... sorry ‘bout that….” Hagrid said dragging the large boarhound by its collar as it attempted to lick Harry’s face.

“He’s harmless,” Harry grinned at her, and Veronica looked ready to bolt.

“If you say so,” she said not looking convinced, but still followed Hagrid inside.

The pair arrived late to dinner, Veronica went and joined her classmates and Harry hurried to the table and found Ron sitting with the other sixth years. Neville held a crimson Remembrall in his hands.

“Potion’s essay?”
“Charms homework?”
“Did you water Mimby?”
“How about something to do with your grandmother?”
“Herbology project?”
“Anything to do with the Halloween ball?”

“That’s it!” Neville exclaimed excited and his Remembrall cleared to white smoke swirling peacefully inside. Neville whipped out his notebook with a pencil tied with a string and began to scribble.

“I need to owl my measurements to Madam Malkin’s; my dress robes are too short,” he said as he pocketed the notebook.

Harry sat down and noticed Ron was stabbing his chicken a bit roughly. He then noticed that Hermione was missing. He felt his stomach drop, and turned. Sure enough, Hermione was sitting across from Terry Granchester at the Ravenclaw table. Harry saw that he wasn’t the only one that had noticed. The whole of Ravenclaw, and the rest of the school, was murmuring casting glances at the pair.

Terry Granchester almost never set foot at the dinner table except on the very first day of classes in previous years; although now that he was Head Boy, he was more a regular at the table, but for very brief periods of time and mostly sat alone reading a book. Now he had made an appearance and with Hermione by his side. For some reason Harry felt relieved when he spotted Ginny’s fiery redhead next to Hermione’s and Luna Lovegood sitting next to Terry.

Luna said something, and Harry could imagine her dreamy voice from the way her face was staring into space. Terry seemed to find whatever she had said amusing, as he almost chocked on his pumpkin juice and laughed a care-free, almost bark like laugh. This startled Harry and caught him by surprise. Terry’s long dark brown hair, and finely chiseled, handsome features, made Harry think of his Godgather; especially the bark-laughing Sirius that Harry had seen when he was in his fifth year in Snape’s memory. It seemed that seeing Terry laugh like that was something that had caught many people off-guard as several of them were staring at him with disbelief.

Harry noticed that girls seemed to think that it made him even more handsome and that several of them wished to know what had made him laugh so. Hermione, Ginny and Luna looked incredulously at him, then they too began to laugh. Luna began to snort and chortle, making Ginny laugh harder. The noise in the Great Hall seemed to die down, making the sound of four people laughing so hard quite noticeable. As the laughter began to die down, Terry stood up and wiped the water from his eyes.

“I have to go. It was such a pleasure,” he said smiling at the grinning girls. Then to the astonishment of everyone, he picked up Luna’s hand and kissed it. He said in a quiet, steady voice, which strangely carried itself everywhere so everyone heard what he said.

“My dear Luna, if I had ever known your company would be so pleasant, I would have never missed a meal for the past five years. I will see you around.” He left the Ravenclaw table ignoring the murmur that grew as he walked past. Luna seemed thoroughly pleased, and Hermione was smiling at her. Ginny positively glowed with happiness for her friend.

Harry and Ron ate their dinner without a word; neither of them seemed to be in the mood for talking. Hermione and Ginny joined the Gryffindor table for dessert, and Ginny merrily recounted what Luna had said that had sent them into such a fit of laughter. Ginny could barely speak amidst her laughter, and the contagious laughter soon spread. The whole of Gryffindor was roaring, although no one had heard nor understood a single word Ginny had said. It was her exuberant laugh that had started it all. The rest of the houses watched in interest, curious and wishing they knew what was so darn funny, and also jealous of the camaraderie that seemed to make Gryffindor the most united house in the school.

Professor Dumbledore looked on the students with pride, and he held a goofy grin on his lips. Snape looked utterly bored, while the rest of the staff held smiles, and grins. It was hard to feel unhappy when the ringing sound of joy was so powerful.
Even Harry, who had been brooding about Hermione’s new friendship with the Head Boy had laughed hard at nothing. By the time the Gryffindors headed to their common room, they all felt their spirits uplifted.

When they reached the common room, Harry, Ron and Hermione automatically gravitated to their favorite spot by the fireplace near the stairway to the boy’s dormitory. Before anyone had a chance to speak, a black Raven flew in through the opened window and landed in front of Hermione. She quickly took the note that it held in its beak for her.

Miss Granger,

I have found a lead in locating a text that is to my belief to be of Sindarin origin. I have deciphered some clues as to its whereabouts, and I am mounting an expedition to retrieve it. If I am successful, I shall be back in my shop by the 31st of October. I will owl you immediately upon my return. I have estimated the price of the tome to be approximately 2200 Galleons. If you are unable to accommodate that price, I may be able to lend you the ancient tome, but you will have to sign an agreement to repay its market value as if sold on auction if you damage the item. As always, there is no obligation to buy, so please do not be alarmed by the price. It merely reflects the value of the item. I hope to see you on the 2nd of November.

Sincerely,

Zibiki Gathoka


“Bloody hell! 2200 G’s!?” Ron exclaimed stunned.

“Sssshhhh!” Hermione admonished him when the people in the common room turned to stare at Ron’s outburst.

“I’ll pay it,” Harry said quietly, feeling hopeful that once they had this text in their hands they could figure out a way to get to Sirius.

Ron ogled at Harry, his facial expression clearly disbelieving how Harry was willing to waste that much money. “What if it’s all a hoax?” Ron asked incredulous.

“You read what he said, there’s no obligation to buy, so we can always refuse to buy it. But if it’ll help me find a way to bring Sirius back, it’s all worth it,” Harry said resolute. He kept thinking about the dreams he had about Sirius. The one where Harry saw him in that bleak black and white environment of a post-apocalytic deserted Hogwarts was the most frequent. But it was always the same… Sirius barely had said two words when Harry would wake up. So far there hadn’t again been anymore incidents involving the other Gryffindor fifth years like the other times except for the one time when Hermione had fallen down the steps and she had heard Sirius’s voice.

“We don’t really know if anything that bloke has sold us is real. I mean, yeah those texts about monolith portals and planes of magic sound cool, but kind of dubious to me, and what if he’s taking advantage of us and wants to take us in!” Ron said voicing for the first time his suspicions.

“Well, I can tell you that the text he gave us on Planes of Magic isn’t a hoax. The other day I found information about Planes of Magic in a book here at the library, and Harry’s book can pull up tons of other references. Most of the stuff I’ve read out there seems like rubbish, a lot of it being wild speculation, compared to the information on the scrolls from Zibiki… in fact, a lot of the artifacts shown on the scrolls are real objects of magic that do exactly as the scrolls say, but the scrolls describe the items in more detail and how they were actually valuable in used for transportation throughout the Planes,” Hermione jumped quickly to defend the store owner.

Ron seemed at a loss for words for a second. “What about that stupid diary about Animagus Transformation?” He said and didn’t expect Hermione’s look of glee.

“We’ll find out about that soon enough,” she retorted and wouldn’t divulge any more information on that, although she assured them she hadn’t read it and no, she wasn’t going to surprise them by becoming an Animagus. She seemed a bit hurt that they had believed her capable of going through that without them by her side. They quickly apologized.

“Anyway, I need to figure out a way to get about 3000 Galleons from my account, just in case…” Harry said bringing the topic back to the book.

“Well, I know you can have an owl transfer made to the school and withdraw your money here… but you have to go through the Headmaster,” Hermione replied. Harry wasn’t sure if he wanted to share with Dumbledore why he needed so much money.

“Is there no other way?”

“We could ask Bill if he’ll get it out for you. He can meet us in Hogsmeade on Saturday,” Ron offered.

“Won’t he ask too many questions? What if he tells your parents, or the Order?”

“Mmm, I don’t know about that,” Ron sat and thought for a minute.

“I can do it!” Hermione said.

“How?”

“I’ll be going to the Ministry early tomorrow for Apparating lessons, and for the next two Saturdays we’ll be Apparating to Diagon Alley, I’ll be able to know by tomorrow if I can make it to Diagon Alley or not, and next weekend I’ll just Apparate in front of Gringotts, get the money, and then Apparate back to the Ministry... it’s not uncommon to land several yards away from your destination, nobody will suspect anything.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?” Ron asked with worry.

“No, I’ve managed to successfully Apparate twice to from the Ministry last weekend,” Hermione said with a grin, and Ron and Harry looked at her with awe.

“Won’t you get into trouble? It’ll take time to get to the vault, get the money, and back to the Ministry,” Harry said with concern.

“Not if you send a note to Gringotts ahead of time that I will be picking up the money; they can have it at the desk ready for me to pick it up. Then next visit to Hogsmeade, we can get the book if he’s got it…” she said and Harry looked troubled. “What’s wrong?”

“Once you get the money, you’ll have to get the book from Zibiki. I have made plans for me and Vero,” Harry said shifting uncomfortably in his chair remembering that he’d forgotten to tell both Ron and Hermione about it.

“Oh, that’ll be no problem,” Hermione said rather quickly.

“I’ll go with you, I really don’t want you to go alone after last time, and we’ll probably have to have a Professor with us.” Ron added.

“Ask Professor Lupin to go with you, and Ron can keep him occupied while you get the book.”

“All right, sounds like a plan then,” Hermione agreed.

While they worked on their homework, Harry casually asked Hermione what Terry wanted with her after flying class.

“Oh… can you keep it a secret?” She asked and Harry and Ron huddled closer.

“Terry said his father knows the parents of the lead singer of Hesperides,” Hermione whispered and Ron gasped.

“Really!?” Ron whispered back excitedly. “I thought you’d be bringing back the Weird Sisters!” Ron obviously thought that Hesperides was better than the Weird Sisters.

Hermione grinned, “they’re already signed up,” she whispered back.

“The Weird Sisters and…!”

“Ron! Shut up!” Hermione said when people around them looked towards them. At once, the common room was a flurry of gossip. Hermione glared at Ron, “so much for keeping a secret!” She said through clenched teeth.

“Well, the whole school has been speculating about The Weird Sisters, so that ain’t news,” Ron said turning deep red in the face.

“But that’s not really why he wanted me this evening. He’s going to handle those two bands, but he wanted me to make an attempt and contact this other third band. He said he knew two of their members are former Hogwarts students, and if they aren’t booked for that night, they may just do it and for a reasonable price too,” Hermione said catching Ron and Harry’s interest.

“Who?” Ron couldn’t help but ask.

“I’ll whisper it to you, but if you exclaim…” Hermione had caught something by the floor.

“What?” Harry asked puzzled, and then he saw them too.

At once, Hermione scooped up two strings of what appeared to be stretched out used bubble gum, held them to her mouth, “BOOO!”

“OI!”

“AAAARGh!”

Fred and George who were just a few seats away from them, jumped into the air, fleshy strings of Extendable ears hanging from one of their ears. They rubbed the sides of their heads as they glared at Hermione, who simply waved at them and smiled. Harry frowned and wondered how long the twins had been spying on them. Were they doing it for Order business?

Fred and George rolled their Extendable Ears and walked over to them.

“You could have been nicer you know…” Fred said sticking a finger in his ear and shaking it as if it would help rid him of the ringing inside.

“So, who is it?” George asked greedily.

“As if I am going to say anything now,” Hermione said returning to her homework. Ron glared at Fred and George for ruining it for them. “Besides, it would be quite possible that they are already busy for that night, this would be on such short notice, since they are so big and all, and probably won’t make it anyway…” she said shrugging, and the four boys begged her to tell. Hermione simply refused.

“Now, you’ll just have to wait like the rest,” she said and closed her book; she was finished with her essay. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I am off to bed, good night,” Hermione said and smirked at them then headed to her room. Her smirk widened at a few cheeky words that she heard Fred mutter.

“I should take five points for the cheek of you!” She called back and ducked into the doorway when a cushion came towards her.

“So, how long do you plan to keep spying on me?” Harry said looking quite serious at the twins.

“Spying on you?”

“Yes, unless you expect me to believe that you were just wondering who’s going to play at the Halloween Ball?”

Fred and George looked at each other. “We were just wondering what you guys are up to,” Fred said as he shrugged.

“We’ve seen that you and your dorm mates are up to something,” George added.

“Why didn’t you just ask?” Harry said and narrowed his eyes at them.

“It really didn’t occur to us, but now that you mention it, what are you up to?” Fred said and leaned forward expectantly.

“If you haven’t found out by now, I’m not about to tell you…” Harry replied and stood up.

“Now wait a minute, we can do things the nice way, or the Weasley way…”

“You might as well tell them Harry, trust me, you don’t want to see the Weasley way,” Ron said glaring at his brothers.

“You have to swear not to tell anyone,” Harry said and the twins nodded solemnly.
“I don’t believe Sirius is dead and we’re going to find a way to get to him,” Harry said and held his breath. He expected the twins to react to his words.

Fred and George seemed to sober up, and their faces turned serious. “If you need any help, just tell us,” George said and nodded to Harry. Harry blinked back incredulous.

“Dumbledore said that he would look into the dream we had, but I haven’t heard anything from him. I dunno if you can, but maybe talk to the Order members, and just see if you can get anything about the veil or anything… just be discreet,” Harry finally said after thinking for a while.

“Leave it to us—

—We’re on it—

—discreet is out motto— they both say in unison.

Harry and Ron exchanged a glance with worry.


***

On Tuesday before dinner, Harry’s mind was busy with putting the last finishing touches on his plans for Hogsmeade. He’d also been thinking about what Hermione was going to do this coming weekend. She had successfully Apparated to Diagon Alley by the end of her lessons last Saturday, and Harry had contacted Gringotts about having 3000 Galleons ready for Hermione to pick up quickly. Harry hoped he wasn’t getting her into trouble, but Hermione was more than sure she could pull it off. Harry tied the purchase order to Hedwig’s leg, and she nipped his fingers affectionately before taking off.

He watched her struggle against the bitter wind, and felt bad for sending her off in this weather, but the note said that he needed to make his payment before the end of today and he wanted to make sure everything was perfect for the Hogsmeade weekend. A noise by the door alerted Harry that someone had come in, before he could turn around, a pair of hands covered his eyes.

“Guess who?” A soft voice whispered in his ears. Harry took the hands off his eyes, and spun around to face Veronica.

“You were supposed to guess,” she pouted.

“But I did,” he replied as he wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Oh really?” Veronica countered raising an eyebrow and wrapping her arms around his neck.

“mmh hmm,” Harry said nodding his head. “How did you know I was here?” Harry asked her, looking into her brown eyes.

“I saw Ron heading to dinner and told me you were sending a letter with Hedwig, so I thought I’d come up and see you. I have to make sure you aren’t sending secret love letters to your other girls…” she said teasingly as she brushed her lips against his, but didn’t really kiss him, and smirked… “…you know…”

“Well, you’re too late then… I’ve already dispatched about a dozen owls…” Harry teased back as he moved forward to capture her lips in his.

“Oh yeah? Is that so, Mr Potter?!” She pretended to be mad as she pulled her head back keeping him from kissing her.

“Yes, Miss Motiño… quit stalling and give me kiss…”

Veronica laughed and this time didn’t pull back as Harry cradled her head with one hand and pulled her face to his and kissed her. With his hand, Harry took out the pencil that Veronica used to secure her dark mane in a bun. A habit she had picked up at muggle school and really liked. Her long waves of her hair released from the coil of her bun, and Harry inhaled the sweet scent of honey and jasmine that he liked.

Veronica smiled through the kiss, and pressed herself against Harry, her tongue prodding his lips. Harry responded, and wrapped his arms tighter around her.

They were interrupted by a fit of giggles. They broke the kiss and turned to look at two first year Hufflepuff girls snorting behind their hands, and giggling nervously. Their faces were tinged a bit crimson.

Harry’s face turned red a little, and Veronica merely grinned at the girls.
“Come on, let’s head to dinner…” Veronica said and grabbed Harry’s hand and led him from the tower. Harry could hear the girls giggle as they passed.

The pair made their way down to the Great Hall, and they turned at the end of Ravenclaw table. “You have detention again?” Veronica asked hopeful that maybe it was perhaps cancelled.

“Yeah,” Harry answered absentmindedly as he spotted Hermione sitting right next to the Head Boy, and this time Luna and Ginny weren’t there. They were both poring over a piece a parchment, their heads quite close together.

Harry noticed that Veronica was pulling him towards the open area which happened to be near where Cho Chang and her friend Marieta were sitting.

“Hey Marieta, hi Cho,” Veronica greeted as she sat down, and Harry sat beside her.

“Oh, hi Veronica, hi Harry,” Cho replied, while Marieta only nodded and looked down hiding her face. Harry simply nodded at Cho, still very awkward when seeing her. Most of the time they pretended they didn’t see each other.

Hermione finished scribbling something on the parchment that she and Terry were looking over, rolled it up, and she stood up. Terry stood up as well.

“Thanks Hermione, very well done…”

Harry noticed that a lot of people were trying to overhear what the Head Boy was saying to Hermione.

“… this will be the best Masquerade Hogwarts has ever seen…” he smirked noticing the eager looks from students around him. News of a possible multiple-bang gig for the ball had spread all over school. “If you excuse me, I’ll see you later.”

Hermione nodded at him and he turned, walked down the length of Ravenclaw table, then left the Great Hall. Hermione was looking over the Gryffindor table for a sign of Harry, and frowned when she didn’t spot him there. She turned to pick up her book bag and spotted Harry with Veronica a few seats from where she was. She smiled at him and walked over to him.

“Harry, Professor Donovan was looking for you just a little while ago. He said that detention wasn’t until 7:30 tonight because he had something to attend to first…”

“Great!” Veronica exclaimed.

“Actually, I was hoping if I could borrow Harry for that time. I need his help, and I’ve got Prefects duty tonight so I probably won’t see him again tonight,” Hermione interjected.

“Yeah, sure…” Veronica said with a shrug, and Harry beamed at her and was glad to see that she didn’t appear upset. He remembered the way Cho had reacted, jealous of his time with Hermione… but so far Veronica was always nice and kept telling Harry that she trusted him.

“Thanks Vero… I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Harry said and he leaned over and kissed her. He stood up and grabbed a piece of chicken in a napkin, and a goblet of pumpkin juice and followed Hermione out of the Great Hall. Neither noticed the dark look that crept over Veronica’s face.

They climbed the marble staircases and headed up to the fourth floor to the library. They stopped just before they got to the entrance and Hermione waited for Harry to finish his piece of chicken, and juice.

“So, what do you need help with?” Harry asked and took a last bite of food and drained the last of the juice. A soft pop revealed a house elf that collected the empty things from Harry and dissaparated just as quickly.

Hermione shifted uncomfortably… “Well, I wanted to ask, will it be all right if I replicate an invisibility cloak from yours again?”

Harry was caught off guard by the request. Why would Hermione need an invisibility cloak? He didn’t stop himself before he asked, “what for?” His tone was one of mere curiosity. Hermione blushed.

“I’ve got prefect’s duty tonight…” she began, and Harry noticed that she blushed somewhat. He didn’t comprehend why she’d need an invisibility cloak for that.

“…with Terry…” Hermione continued, and suddenly Harry felt like someone had shoved a burning lump of coal down his throat that ignited him as it traveled down. “… and he invited to take me somewhere after we were done with Prefects duties, but it may be after curfew and I don’t want to get caught…” Hermione was hastily explaining as if she wanted to get it over with.

The burning lump of coal had landed in Harry’s stomach like the weight of a ton of bricks, shattering into millions of pieces and now rapidly traveling through every vein in his body. Harry had not expected this sort of reaction to the news that Hermione was dating the Head Boy. He had an image of smashing his fist into his handsome face, but this didn’t help with the feeling he was experiencing.

“You? Out after curfew?” Harry exclaimed no realizing how accusing his tone of voice sounded.

Hermione was taken aback. “I’ve been out after curfew a million times with you! I’m not immune to it…” Hermione shot back.

Harry bit back the comment to say that when they were out it was important. He conveniently forgot about the late night excursions he made with Veronica on occassions.

“My invisibility cloak is in my trunk,” Harry said trying to calm the feeling of jealousy that was trying to consume him. What the hell was wrong with him? Hermione was his best friend, that’s all… and he was with Veronica.

Hermione smiled. “Thanks.”

“So you are going out with Terry then?” Harry compulsively asked.

“I don’t know…” Hermione said uncomfortably. Touching the subject of love interests wasn’t something she’d ever done with Harry. “I mean, he’s my date for the dance, and he just said he had something to show me that I would probably find interesting… but he hasn’t asked me… yet.” Hermione blushed wondering what compelled her to tell this to Harry.

“Do you want him to?” Harry hastily added, “I mean… you barely know him…”

Hermione gave Harry one of her looks… “And how long did you know Veronica before you snogged her senseless?” She asked crossing her arms.

“That’s different!”

“How so!?”

Harry was at a loss for words.

“I thought so…” Hermione said annoyed. “Look, what I do and don’t do with boys is none of your business…” she replied crossly, then took a deep breath and tried to calm down. “I really appreciate your concern… I know that you are just trying to look out for me,” she said gave him a small smile. “After all, you are my best friend, and friends care about each other so they don’t get hurt, right? But I can manage myself. I’ve spent a lot more time around Terry this year than you have because he’s the Head Boy. So is not really out of the blue…” she said and her cheeks crimsoned a little.

“I s’pose…” Harry said feeling as if he’d been deflated. The bits of coals swimming in his blood were quenching. “But if he hurts you, I’ll make sure to hex his ass from here to London!” Harry said and looked at his watch. “I better get going; I don’t want to be late…”

“Thanks Harry. Maybe I’ll see you tonight.” Hermione said and watched him go.

“Yeah, and don’t get into trouble…” he called as he sped down the hall fighting with the conflicting and confusing emotions that had been plaguing him for the last several days. She’s just my best friend, that’s all… But Harry knew that he had seen Hermione in a different light tonight, but there was nothing he could do about it. Besides, Ron has fancied Hermione practically since the first day he saw her. He couldn’t do anything about it. He wouldn’t.

Hermione watched him go. Why couldn’t things be easy? She sighed and pushed the door to enter the library.


Chapter 33: The Sixth Elemental Mage
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Chapter 33

The Sixth Elemental Mage


Harry knocked on the door to the DADA classroom, and heard Professor Donovan’s voice allowing him to enter. Joséphine wasn’t there yet.

“Take a seat Potter,” Donovan indicated and Harry sat down. “I wanted to ask how your lessons with Professor Snape were going.”

“You mean Potions?” Harry asked uncertain.

“No, the Headmaster informed me that you are taking Occlumency lessons from Professor Snape. I had approached the Headmaster about instructing you and Joséphine on Occlumency to help control the connection between the two of you,” Donovan replied.

“The lessons aren’t going as good as Professor Snape said they should. I’m useless in Occlumency. I can’t block him, unless I accidentally jinx him.”

“Would you mind if I gave it a try?”

Harry felt uncertain. He didn’t want Donovan to be swimming around his head looking at his memories. Donovan noticed his hesitation.

“I am actually surprised that you haven’t mastered Occlumency. As I’ve explained before, psionic magic resistance is an ability inherent in all Mages. It should have been easier, not harder for you to learn Occlumency. I will begin working on your psionic resistance, and I wanted to see how far advanced you are in Occlumency, or Legilimency. I promise not to intrude if you are unable to block me.”

Harry thought about it for a moment, then nodded.

“Begin your preparations…” he said and Harry closed his eyes to clear his mind, to focus on each thought and dismiss it. When he looked back at Donovan, he noticed the slight frown in his face.

Donovan raised his wand, and whispered, “Legilimens.” It struck Harry how different his approach was from Snape’s. Snape would begin the spell as if he wished to physically beat Harry with the incantation. Harry certainly felt like a blow was given to him whenever Snape began his lessons. Also, Snape barely gave him time to prepare. Harry’s thoughts were interrupted as he felt Donovan’s invasion into his mind. Again, he was completely unable to stop the intrusion, and immediately a memory of him asking Hermione if she was dating Terry cropped into his mind. He tried to block Donovan, but before he even could try, and before the image of Hermione’s blushing face had switched to something else, it stopped.

Harry knew he hadn’t done anything to stop it. He looked back at Donovan, whose frown had seemed to darken.

“Did you…”

“Yes, the moment I felt you unable to stop me, I terminated the connection.” Donovan said. “Tell me Potter, exactly what does Professor Snape do when you practice Occlumency?”

Harry explained how they went about the lessons, and what Harry’s assignments were.

“With the amount of lessons that you have had, I had expected you to have more progress than what you’ve shown tonight,” Donovan said as he sat back on his desk to think for a moment. “Professor Snape is a good Occlumens, I would have thought…” Donovan caught himself before he berated a fellow professor, but his thoughts still continued, it is apparent he is a very poor—or unwilling— teacher. Another thought entered Donovan’s mind. “Have you posed any resistance to his teaching?” he asked and watched Harry’s reaction.

“I…”

“I will take that as a yes,” Donovan said and paused to think for a moment. “I had hoped that your lessons in Occlumency would make it easier for us to begin working on Psionic resistance, and that at the same time it would increase your success in Occlumency. I see now that is not the case, so we will start from scratch. I must tell you Potter, that you must be willing to close your mind; if you resist it, or have a preconceived reluctance to the teaching, it will not work and…” Donovan was interrupted by a knock on the door. Joséphine entered the classroom, and Donovan instructed her to continue working on the Psionic magic summoning exercises that they had begun last time. Joséphine nodded and went to the other side of the classroom to begin working. Donovan returned to Harry.

“I want you to start with the Occlumency spell and we will try again.”

Harry frowned. He didn’t know anything about an Occlumency spell. “Professor…”

“Professor Snape taught you the Occlumency spell, that’s where he should have begun…” Donovan said surprised.

“No, Snape—

“Professor Snape—“

“—Professor Snape just told me how to clear my mind and began using Legilimency on me,” Harry said. Donovan muttered something that he couldn’t quite hear.

“Then I will start from the very basics. Try to bring your mind to a blank state. I don’t mean try to dismiss your thoughts, because minds a made for thinking and it is impossible to not think of anything. What I want you to do is bring your mind to a neutral state. By neutral I mean in which you are not consciously trying to think or not think any thoughts. Just let your mind wander for a moment. When you feel settled in your thoughts, I want you to grab each hand onto one end of your wand, then say Occlumens. Let’s give that a try, and take your time… I will begin whenever you are ready. We have three hours,” Donovan said and Harry nodded.

Harry took out his wand, grabbed each end with his hands and closed his eyes. After several minutes, he said, “Occlumens.” In a flash, Harry felt a wave of energy leave his right hand, and immediately felt it again on his left and traveling up his arm. Faster than the blink of his eyes, he had felt something settle upon him. His mind seemed to be blissfully blank, so blank he felt he couldn’t consciously think. Harry opened his eyes and saw Professor Donovan raise his wand at him, and mutter, “Legilimens.”

Harry felt as if an invisible hand was trying to scoop his memories out of his brain. He fought it.

“Don’t fight it, let the spell do the work… you just concentrate on how it feels, and analyze the effects of the Occlumens spell.”

Harry heard Donovan’s voice, and he immediately stopped struggling against the invisible hand. Harry could feel where Donovan was prodding into his mind, but there was some sort of barrier preventing him from actually reaching any memories. It was as if a crystal, unbreakable dome had settled in his brain protecting it. The prodding sensation stopped and Harry opened his eyes.

“Finish the spell, Potter.”

“Finite Incantatem,” Harry muttered and his brain felt back to normal.

“You have now experienced how efficient Occlumency actually is against Legilimency. The Occlumency spell is rather effective, but wizards performing Legilimency on a person rarely ask for permission, or give a chance for the Occlumency spell to work. Of course, if you find yourself in a situation where you know beforehand of the attack, this spell can buy you time. The draw back to using Occlumency in this way is that it also affects your own ability to process thoughts, and it’s not very useful to Occlumens yourself and blotch your ability to duel or defend yourself.”

“Also, this is very basic Occlumency. Any experienced Leglimens will know it and sooner or later they will brake through. Another thing is that the Occlumens spell blocks everything from a Legilimens. This of course makes it evident to any Legilimens that you are trying to block your mind; just as if you had a sign posted on your forehead saying: I’m using Occlumency. You can appreciate why this is not a desirable thing. The purpose of Occlumency is to defend your mind, however, it is most advantageous to an Occlumens to be so good, that no one will know when or if he’s using it at all. The sign of a great Occlumens is when you can selectively hide specific memories and thoughts, yet your mind appears to be as open and vulnerable as ever. Just as a great Legilimens can search someone’s mind and no one notices it. Subtlety is a coveted trait of the Occlumens and Legilimens.”

Donovan left Harry trying to re-create that feeling of protection in his mind, without actually using the Occlumency spell, while he went to see Joséphine’s progress. Donovan later returned to have Harry try one more time. This time, Harry had a little more success, until Donovan prodded harder. Again, once Donovan broke through Harry’s defenses, he immediately stopped. Donovan explained that it was no use continuing to attack Harry’s mind. It was futile to force Harry to stop the attack, when he couldn’t even do it from the beginning. It was much harder to push a Legilimens out of his mind, than it was to block one and maintain the block, especially for an untrained Occlumens. Also, he had no intentions of invading Harry’s mind more than necessary.

“So what’s the use of it once my defenses have been broken?” Harry asked with a frown.

“Don’t misunderstand me Potter. It can be done, and it is more likely that you will be pushing a Legilimens out of your mind, rather than blocking one from the beginning. You have done it, but you also know the amount of effort that you’ve had to use to be able to do it; and because you are inexperienced, you resort to hexing your attacker. But outside of lessons, you don’t always know who the attacker is. And before you can get to the level of repelling a Legilimens completely, you must start by being able to block one completely before they have a chance to take hold. At this point in time, you are not advanced. But you have potential. You are a Mage, after all,” Donovan said and smiled.

Harry thought that his Occlumency lesson with Donovan was completely different than with Snape. Even Harry could tell that he had accomplished some progress… more progress in two hours than several months’ worth of lessons with Snape. This brought up to surface an immense amount of questions. Why didn’t Snape start out from the beginning? Why was he forcing Harry to block him when it was almost impossible to do when he was so inexperienced, as Donovan put it? Also, why did he continue to flip through Harry’s memories for so long?

“How are you feeling Potter?”

“I feel a little drained,” Harry said in honesty.

“Let’s stop this exercise for tonight. I will take the last hour to give you more history on Mages,” Donovan said and had Harry take a seat while he went to check on Joséphine. Harry sat down and pinched the bridge of his nose. He could feel a headache beginning to develop, and was glad that they had stopped with Occlumency. He looked up when Joséphine sat next to him, and greeted her. Donovan conjured a chair and sat down in front of them.

He did a brief recapitulation of what they had so far learned: about Magic, the different kinds of Mages and some history of Mages. Tonight, he was going to explain more in depth about the different kinds of Mages.

“Like I’ve explained before, there are two main Magekinds: Elemental and Non-Elemental. Elemental Mages are named after each element of Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Light. And there is a sixth Elemental Mage that is called Aezhrian. Non-Elemental Mages known are Arcane, Morphean and Daiteran,” Donovan began and spent about ten minutes describing Arcane and Morphean Mages.

“As you know Jopsephine, your Mageability is that of a Daiteran Mage. You may recall, Daiteran Mages were the first to be persecuted because of the mayhem caused by Autrius. Daiteran Mages were feared, and killed without second thought. As a result, anyone who believed he had Daiteran capabilities would hide this knowledge, and with time, less and less Daiteran Mages practiced yellow magic, and they nearly ceased to exist. Daiteran Mages not only can resist Psionic magic like all other Mages, but they can specifically wield it to the fullest extent of its power.”

“Daiteran Mages are best known for their ability to control the minds of creatures. Another thing that Daiteran Mages can do is move objects with their mind, and they can also manipulate and freeze portions of time. Also, Daiteran Mages are proficient in any form of mind magic, including memory and thought alteration. One reason Daiteran Mages were fiercely feared was because some of the unforgivable curses are based on yellow magic, and because of the harm done by them, this magic was considered dangerous and outlawed. And since Daiteran Mages were the only ones who could wield Psionics, they were persecuted for it.”

“You may think that a lot of the things a Daiteran Mage can do seem to be on the dangerous side. However, there were very few Daiteran Mages who actually used their powers for evil. It says in the scrolls that Daiteran Mages were most often those who performed acts of what muggles now term ‘exorcisms’ on victims believed to be possessed. Sometimes these muggle victims were actually suffering the effects of a curse, and a Daiteran Mage was able to amend damages done to their thoughts or memories…” Donovan said and proceeded to explain other things that Daiteran Mages were known for. After finishing speaking about Daiteran Mages, Donovan allowed Harry and Joséphine to question him about what they just heard. When the two teenagers satisfied themselves, Donovan turned to Harry.

“We are certain that you are an Elemental Mage Potter, and the last few weeks I’ve been instructing you on handling elemental magic to try to discover which kind specifically. As I’ve explained before, Elemental Mages make use of Elemental magic, with predominance in one element, and knowledge of the others. All Elemental Mages can wield Battle (red) magic in its most basic form, and purple magic, tailoring it depending on their element of nature. Red Battle Magic is behind the control of the elemental magic of air, water, fire and earth. This magic was actually first created by dragons, and very little is known of it since dragons became silent thousands of years ago. There is a legend that claims a Dark Wizard cursed the dragons to silence, for they refused to teach him the secrets of Red magic.”

“Air Mages are dedicated to the element of air. Air magic is the magic of motion, often creating motion from nothing. Air Mages are perhaps the best wielders of purple magic.”

“Water Mages are the masters of the element of water. Water magic is the magic of flow and it controls motion that already exists. It works well with air magic. Water Mages can control natural wind while an Air Mage can create wind effects from virtually nothing. So you can see how well an Air and Water Mage can work together. However, Water Mages are the rarest type of Elemental Mage. They specialize in spells that are somewhat ‘weird’ and different. Spells such as Reflectance and Scrying are just an example of how Water Mages make use of red magic, but only as far as the water element is concerned.”

“Earth Mages mostly deal with reshaping anything that is solid. They are experts at transmutation of solid objects, raising walls from the ground, and so on. However, altering solid objects on large scale requires massive amounts of magical power, so Earth Mages often work best in teams, more so than any other type of Elemental Mage.”

“Fire magic was the most commonly used in war, as it centers on setting things aflame, blowing things up, and so on. It is the magic of energy – even making things colder is considered part of fire magic. So naturally Fire Mages are associated with magical destruction and energy manipulation. They use a combination of red, purple and some blue magic, as far as manipulating the element of fire.”

“Light Mages are rare too. They based most of their magic on White magic, and are often healers. White magic is restorative and protective in nature and it can clear the mind of troubled thoughts, relax an individual or put one to sleep. White Magic is also the best magic to protect against Dark Arts. The best example of this is type of magic is the Patronus Charm. The most obviously known skill of Light Mages is to light dark places. Light mages, however, can tailor white magic to allowing limited sight in dark places, through walls, or at a great distance, and for detecting spies.”

Harry’s attention was engrossed in all of the information that Donovan was quickly dispersing. He wondered which elemental kind of Mage he was. So far they had worked on manipulating air and water mostly, but he’d had a few tries at the other types of elemental power. He didn’t particularly excelled in any one of them, so Donovan had as of yet exposed his Magekind. Donovan had been rather surprised that Harry could wield water elemental magic with the same proficiency as the other types since Water Mages were rare. He had Harry work on white magic as well to see if Harry manipulated that element, and had seemed pleased to see Harry’s Patronus charm.

“Potter, in our last session I told you that I might have an idea of which Elemental power you wield. I have reason to believe that you, are an Aezhrian Mage. It is the sixth Elemental Mageking. This Magekind has control over all five elements and their Elemental magic. It is the only Mage that can learn to wield Blue Magic entirely and interestingly enough when an Aezhrian Mage masters blue magic completely, it is said that the curse that separates dragons from wizards is lifted, and he can speak to dragons. The legend says that when this happens the secrets of the Red magic are revealed. Also, an Aezhrian Mage can wield Purple Magic, which makes the Aezhrian Mage the most powerful Elemental Mage. It says in our history that every legion of Elemental Mages was guided by an Aezhrian Mage,” Donovan said and he turned his eyes to focus on Harry.

Harry was shocked to hear that. Dumbledore had said that the Sorting Hat had called Harry an Elemental Mage, and Donovan had also said it and had worked with Harry on developing his abilities around the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and light. But so far they hadn’t figured out which kind he was.

“Why would you say that?” Harry asked astounded.

“My first clue was that you don’t excel in the use of one Elemental Magic alone, but you actually have dominance over all. Like I said, Aezhrian Mages can control all 5 Elements, and their Elemental Magic. My second clue was that I recently learned that you speak Parseltongue. Snakes are closely related to dragons, and I know from legends that Parseltongue is a form of Dragonmime. Dragonmime can only be learned by Aezhrian Mages…” Donovan began explaining.

A horrible thought entered Harry’s mind and he interrupted. “Voldemort is a Parselmouth,” he exclaimed. “Does that mean that he could be an Aezhrian Mage?”

“No, this Dark Lord is not a Mage. For one thing, if he was, the Mage Council would be taking a more active and public role aiding in the fight against him regardless of the Wizarding community’s belief against us. Another reason I know that Lord Voldemort is not a Mage is because of the history of Parselmouths as it is written in the Book of The Mage Code. Speaking Parseltongue doesn’t categorize you as being a Parselmouth, according to Mage law,” Donovan said as he stood up and began to pace.

“I thought that you could only speak Parseltongue if you were a Parselmouth,” Harry exclaimed confused. Dumbledore had said that he became a parselmouth because Voldemort transferred that ability unto him sixteen years ago.

“That’s what the wizarding world believes, but let me tell you what the legend of Aezhrian tells: our Scrolls tell the story of a Mage called Aezhrian Galdenzar, who was the first Mage to discover the control of Blue magic and learned to wield all five elemental magic. Aezhrian was friends with the dragons and the he forged an allegiance with Ekzar, the King of Dragons. This was before, when men and dragons existed in harmony. In return for Aezhrian’s services, King Ekzar showed Aezhrian all of the secrets of Red Magic, and to speak Dragonmime, the sacred language of Dragons.”

“Galdenzar went on to become the most powerful Elemental Mage of his time. With the use of Red Magic, Aezhrian mastered all 5 Elemental Powers. Then a Dark Wizard wishing for that power sought Ekzar and demanded the knowledge so freely given to Galdenzar. Ekzar refused, and the Dark Wizard fought him.”

“In an effort to seal the knowledge from the Dark Wizard, King Ekzar cast a spell: only the sons and daughters of the line of Aezhrian Galdenzar would ever keep the knowledge of Red Magic and inherit everything that Aezhrian had been given. The Dark Wizard cursed the Dragon King then, but the curse was not complete because Aezhrian came to defend Ekzar. In the end, Aezhrian was slain. The Dark Wizard attempted one last time to steal the knowledge from Ekzar, and succeeded only in obtaining Parseltongue, the common language used by Dragons to speak with the ‘lesser’ races, not only snakes, but other reptiles as well. Ekzar tried one last time to counter the attack and cursed the Dark Wizard to live among snakes. No one really knows how it happened, but King Ekzar was cursed into silence. Dragons then became wild untamable beasts.”

Both Harry and Joséphine were enthralled. Donovan continued.

“The Dark Wizard fled after the battle, barely alive. Nobody could understand his speech, and the legends say that he could only speak to snakes and lizards, and he could possess snakes and command them. Still, he somehow took to himself a wife and his wife bore him a son. The child could not only speak like men, he could also speak Parseltongue and had the same control over the snakes as his father. Since then the Parselmouth trait was passed through blood lineage. And wizards or witches ever born a Parselmouth have been, for the most part, known to be lured by the Dark Arts.”

“When Aezhrian was killed, he was survived by a son and three daughters, and because of the spell cast by the Dragon King, his children were supposed to inherit what their father knew. But because of the curse on Ekzar, only the son inherited the knowledge. Aezhrian’s son went on to have five daughters, neither of them learned from Aezhrian’s son. But then, the youngest daughter had two sons, but only one inherited all of the gifts of Aezhrian. So as the generations passed, the traits of Aezhrian Galdenzar have only been passed to one boy. In time they became known as Aezhrian Mages, and the line of Galdenzar has been the most prestigious line of Mages. The legends say that Aezhrian Mages can speak Dragonmime, and that they can learn to speak Parseltongue, but they are not Parselmouths.”

“Because you speak Parseltongue, wizards assume that you are a Parselmouth, but it isn’t true. You speak Parseltongue because you are an Aezhrian Mage. Lord Voldemort was born a parselmouth, the trait passed down to him from his mother or father, whom had to be a direct descendant of the Dark Wizard who cursed the dragons to silence. But Lord Voldemort is not a Mage, I assure you.”
Harry breathed a sigh of relief. He had enough problems with Voldemort; he didn’t need to add him being a Mage to his list of worries. He couldn’t quite believe that he would be an Aezhrian Mage. Dumbledore said that Voldemort passed the Parseltongue trait to Harry when he tried to kill him as a baby; but maybe being an Aezhrian Mage had allowed him to learn it. He kept his thoughts to himself and didn’t share them with Donovan. He was making Harry very uncomfortable by referring to Voldermort as Lord Voldemort, and because he had no qualms saying his name.
“Zhat was really interesting to learn,” Joséphine exclaimed as the two walked back to Gryffindor.
“I really found the story of Ekzar and Aezhrian intriguing. It would be cool if someday I learn to speak with dragons,” Harry replied. He remembered all too well the time he encountered a dragon during the first task of the Tri-Wizard tournament. Would it have been easier had he known Dragonmime? He wondered.
“Vous really can speak Parseltongue?” Joséphine asked.
Harry nodded.
“What do snakes say?”
“Well, I don’t know… I’ve only spoken to a few. There is a little green garden snake at the Dursley’s. Sometimes I’d find her when I was working the garden. I’d tell her about my rotten day, she would complain about the hunting. She did ask me that if I saw another green snake around to give him her address,” Harry chuckled.
“Really?” Joséphine asked amused.
“Yes, I thought she was kidding, but she was serious. One day when my cousin Dudley was annoying me I told him the snake was poisonous. You should have seen her; she had fun chasing Dudley as if she was a Cobra, hissing and everything…” Harry said and Joséphine laughed.
Harry and Joséphine always enjoyed conversations on their walks back to Gryffindor after detentions with Donovan. They talked a lot about their life at home. They each understood what it was like to live with a family that despised them. Joséphine had a younger adoptive sister, who was as nasty as Dudley was, although not in front of their parents. They enjoyed abusing them, and thinking of what they could do to them. Harry thought he was really looking forward to turning 17. He wouldn’t have to worry about any Statues of underage usage!
“Can you say something in Parseltongue?” She asked with curiosity.
“It’s easier if I have a snake,” he replied feeling weird, like being on exhibition.
Joséphine pointed her wand at the floor and said, “Serpensortia.” A small snake landed on the floor in front of Harry.
“Ssssseehhh ssshah zeth shouzzzacia.”
Joséphine listened as Harry spoke to the snake, and watched the snake approach him. Harry held his arm to it, the snake coiled on Harry’s hand, and hissed back at him. Harry smiled, set the snake on the floor, and watched it slither away.
“What did you say to eet?”
“Oh, nothing… I’ve been meaning to get back at Malfoy for something he did in my second year.”
Joséphine gasped, “But isn’t eet poisonous?”
“Oh no, he said he looked like one, but that he wasn’t. I told it to be careful. Just a little scare…” Harry grinned with mischief.
Joséphine smiled at him, and Harry turned to look at her. He had to fight the urge to move a golden lock of her hair from her face and tuck it behind her ear.

Joséphine blushed from the intense gaze, but looked away. “We should ‘urry, Fred is waiting for me,” she said not looking at Harry.

“Oh,” Harry said visibly disappointed, and feeling a little bit like an idiot. What was he thinking anyway? He liked Veronica. That reminded him… he wanted to catch up with her at the library right before curfew.

“Right, uhm. I need to see someone...” Harry said to her, regretting embarrassing himself with Joséphine, who fancied Fred, not him.

“Oi!” Ron called as he rounded a corner and spotted the pair.

“What are you doing here?” Harry asked.

Ron looked at him quizzically and flashed his badge.

“Oh, right.” Harry said. “Listen, I need to get to the library, can you accompany Joséphine to the common room?” Harry asked.

“Sure, just make sure you don’t stay past curfew. I just saw Snape prowling the fourth floor hallways. See you back in Gryffindor,” Ron said and left with Joséphine, while Harry made his way to the library. Harry walked towards a shortcut to the fourth floor down the Charms corridor. He heard voices coming from the Charms classroom.

“—Headmaster, he’s the same one!”

Harry thought Lupin’s voice sounded as if he was about to lose his temper. It was so uncharacteristic to hear Remus like that, that it surprised Harry for a moment. He paused in front of the door. He wondered why they hadn’t charmed the door.

“Remus, there is no reason to believe that what you propose is true. It has been years since you have last seen him.”

“I never forget a scent. Dumbledore…”

“I can’t act without proper proof, but I promise you that I will look into it. My hands are tied about this issue. Nothing happens in this castle that I am not aware of, so Remus…” Dumbledore paused, and sighed. “You can come in Harry,” he said and Lupin whirled to see Harry opening the door, looking like a rabbit caught in a snare.

“What can I do for you, , and almost at curfew no less?” Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye.

“I was on my way to the Library from being in detention with Professor Donovan…” Harry began. “I guess I better go…” Harry said and turned to leave.

“Wait, were you spying on this conversation?” Remus asked him.

“No! I just heard you shouting and stopped and Professor Dumbledore said for me to come in… I really didn’t hear anything,” Harry said.

Dumbledore gave him a searching look, frowned, but didn’t say anything. His expression changed. “Off to bed with you Harry. I am sure Professor Snape is waiting for you in a hallway,” Dumbledore said with his signature twinkle in his eye.

“Yes Professor. Good night Professors,” he said and fled the classroom before they could ask more questions. He raced up the steps and went to the Library. It was empty, and Madame Pince shooed him out the door as she locked it.

Harry began to walk back to the Gryffindor tower. He cursed under his breath that he didn’t make it in time to see Veronica before she left for her common room. But he was also wondering what Remus was talking about. He heard the chime of a clock signaling his curfew time. He felt his wristwatch glow warm and pushed the button.

“HARRY RUN! Snape is coming just around the corner, run towards the main hallway!” Ron’s voice came over the link. He had gone to Harry’s trunk to get the Marauder’s map.

Harry didn’t think about it twice and raced down the hall in the opposite direction.

“He’s running after you! Hurry!!!” Ron encouraged.

“POTTER!!!” Snape’s voice could be heard behind him and around the corner, his footsteps running after him. “I know it’s you!!!” Snape yelled and Harry put forth a burst of speed.

Harry felt as if his lungs would burst, and there was a stitch in his side. He needed to lose Snape. He couldn’t go to the staircases; he would be a sitting duck for him.

“Look out! Proffessor De Valerio, straight ahead of you!” Hermione’s voice shrilled.

Too late Harry saw Professor De Valerio appear suddenly from the darkened hallway, running full speed towards him. Harry slid to a halt, and scrambled to his feet. He was trapped! It all happened so fast, as she ran with the grace of a cat, making no sound despite the fact that she was running in high heeled boots. In an instant, she had taken her whip out, snapped the leather snake onto one of the timber rafters from the ceiling of the hallway, and was swinging towards him. Harry didn’t have time to get out of her way when she caught him by the waist with one arm, and the two of them swung in an arc upwards, and towards the next rafter. Professor De Valerio landed gracefully onto the rafter in the ceiling, and gently placed Harry on the spot next to her.

“Sshhh!” She whispered to silence him, while with practiced movement, she quickly coiled her whip. Harry looked down, eyes wide in surprise, shock, excitement and fear. His heart was thumping wildly, and it had happened so fast for him to think a coherent thought. He watched as Snape ran past underneath them, his footsteps echoing down the hall until they disappeared. Ron was going crazy rambling something in Harry’s wristwatch but Harry couldn’t pay attention.

“Professor!?” Harry exclaimed.

“No need for thanks; Severus’ reputation precedes him. You should be more careful next time; I may not be around to save you,” she spoke with a quiet, yet strong voice. She dropped from the ceiling, landing on the floor in a crouch. She sprung back up to her feet, looked up towards Harry, nodded, then began walking away silently, and vanished in the shadows of the hallway.

Harry’s mind was blank, up until that instant he had not been aware of her body pressed against him. The skintight leather suit only accentuated her hard sinewy body, and there was nothing to imagine about the curves pressed against his back just a moment before. It wasn’t until she left that he had realized all this.

“Harry? Harry?” He was snapped by Ron’s voice. He turned to look at his wristwatch and saw Ron’s confused face.

“What happened?” Ron asked.

“I am not sure. Proffessor De Valerio just saved me from Snape… uhm… I am stuck in the ceiling rafter now. She left me here!” He exclaimed once he realized where he was.

“You’re not making sense.” Ron said.

“How am I going to get down?” Harry hissed as he saw no other way but to jump.

“Honestly Harry! Levitate your self or something,.” Hermione’s voice came through.

“Right,” Harry said and pulled out his wand. “Where is Snape now?” Harry asked.

“Go back the way you came, then take the long route. We’ll guide you.” Ron said and Harry nodded.

He levitated himself onto the floor, and looked up. How did Professor De Valerio jump from that high? He didn’t take time to ponder it and began to run the same way he had come, at the end of the hall, he took a right, Ron updating him about Snape’s and Filch’s whereabouts. Harry had to hide behind a tapestry in the 7th floor because Snape was keeping watch, hoping to catch Harry as he entered the tower. Finally, about half an hour later, Filch came to tell Professor Snape that he had caught a 7th year Slytherin out after curfew. Snape looked around incensed, and left with Filch.

Harry ran to the portrait hole. Ron opened from inside the moment Snape was out of earshot.

“So you were out!” The Portrait Lady gasped. “I had told the Professor that I thought I had seen you enter earlier, but I must have been mistaken…” she said and the door closed behind Harry.

“That was close…” Harry grinned at Ron, and the two headed up the staircases to their rooms.


Chapter 34: Splitting of Pathways
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Harry paced nervously as he watched the clock upon the wall. She should have been back by now. The portrait hole opened and he and Ron looked expectantly. It was only Neville.

“Where is she?” Ron asked, fiddling with his wand. The portrait hole opened once more and this time Hermione raced towards them. There was a triumphant look upon her face, and also she had a face of someone who had to tell Harry something.

“How did it go?” Harry asked immediately when Hermione reached them. Hermione pulled a large bag full of jingling coins and handed it to Harry.

“I almost got caught,” she said breathlessly. Harry and Ron’s eyes widened.

“By who?” They both asked in unison.

“Professor Lupin! He was with Veronica!” Hermione exclaimed and looked at Harry.

“Remus and Veronica?”

“Yes… I apparated from the Ministry to Diagon Alley right outside of Gringotts. I moved as quickly as I could and raced up the steps. I had no trouble getting the money, but on my way out I bumped into them. It was a good thing I had my hood on and my traveling cloak covering the Hogwarts uniform! Anyway, I heard Lupin say it was all part of the lawsuit and that the Ministry needed something. I didn’t stay long enough to hear anything else because I needed to apparate back to where I should have gone in the first place. I just thought odd that Veronica was there, especially since you hadn’t mentioned anything about it,” Hermione said as she sat down on the couch.

Harry frowned. Veronica had said that she was going to be busy this morning, but Harry had assumed that it was school related. Why was Remus with her?

“She told me she was going to be busy… but she didn’t say what,” Harry sat down, the pouch of gold still in his hands. Ron nudged Harry, and Harry hid the pouch as Neville approached them.

“Hey guys…”

“Hi Neville.”

“Harry, I thought you might want to know that Veronica and Malfoy had a confrontation down in the Entrance Hall just a few minutes ago,” Neville said and Harry looked incredulous.

“What? Why?”

“I don’t know… I was coming from the green houses, and Veronica was walking in with Professor Lupin. She stopped to talk to some of her friends who were heading to the Great Hall and Professor Lupin left. Then Malfoy showed up and they started arguing. Malfoy pulled out his wand and hexed her. He got her good, but before anyone could retaliate, Professor Lupin disarmed him. They’ve taken Veronica to the Hospital Wing, and I think Malfoy went to the Headmaster’s office. I think he’s going to be expelled,” Neville said and Harry was already halfway to the Portrait Hole. Ron and Hermione were after him. They raced down to the Hospital Wing and found Professor Lupin waiting for them.

“How is she?” Harry asked as he reached Lupin.

“She’ll be fine. She just suffered a few bruises on her hip when she fell,” Lupin said placing a hand on Harry before he could go in. “She’s with Dumbledore right now.”

Harry wanted desperately to ask why she was in Diagon Alley with him, but then he would have to explain how he knew that. Harry didn’t want to get Hermione into trouble, especially since she had managed to pull the whole thing off without a hitch.

After several minutes, Dumbledore came out and allowed Harry to go visit Veronica. She was sitting on her bed, tying on her shoes.

“Hey, I’ve just heard,” he said as he reached her and kissed on the cheek.

“I’m all right. That idiot didn’t do anything too drastic,” she said and grinned at him.

“Why were you and Malfoy arguing?” Harry asked feeling a bit deceived. He didn’t want to accuse Veronica of anything.

“I got a letter this morning…” she said pulling a letter out of her pocket. “After Professor Dumbledore told me the truth about my mum, I’ve been looking into her and her family,” she said and looked to Harry. “I inquired about her at the Ministry, and I guess this whole thing has led to my lawyer finding out that my mum was the surviving heir of her father’s estate, since her sister and parents had died. I informed the Ministry of her death, but she didn’t have a will. So my counsel started looking into it, and she found out that everything in my mum’s family estate reverted back to an earlier will that my Grandfather Regulus had when he had been single that left to his cousing Pollux, who was Narcissa's grandgather. Anyway, my lawyer adviced me to start a petition to get what is rightfully mine. Narcissa is taking me to court to keep me from getting anything from them. Well, the letter I got this morning said that I’ve won the lawsuit and the Malfoy’s have been ordered to give me back everything they had gained from mum’s estate. I had to go to Gringotts to open a larger vault, and to sign some documents. That’s why Malfoy and I argued.
Professor Dumbledore explained to me that Malfoy’s dad is in prison, and that when Malfoy turned 17 next year he would be controlling the Malfoy fortune. I guess Malfoy isn’t happy that I’m taking a huge chunk of his fortune…” Veronica said and couldn’t help but grin.

Harry felt relieved, although in the back of his mind he didn’t like the fact that Veronica had been looking into her family and had yet failed to mention a single thing about it. Harry wondered if Veronica was looking into anything about her father.

“I am rather hungry, have you been down for lunch yet?” Veronica asked the group and they shook their heads. The four of them walked together down to the Great Hall. People whispered as they walked back, the news of Malfoy’s and Veronica’s row already had spread throughout the school. Veronica’s classmates came rushing at her when they spotted her entering the Great Hall.

Harry told Veronica she would meet up with her later that afternoon, since it seemed that she wouldn’t be able to be free of her friends. Harry, Ron and Hermione went to the Gryffindor table and sat down. They discovered that somehow the news that Veronica was related to Malfoy and had taken his mum to court had leaked. The next morning, an article appeared in the Daily Prophet about the case. This made Harry nervous. He wondered how long it would take before the truth about Veronica’s lineage would come out. He wondered how many of them would still remain friendly towards her.

Veronica had suddenly become really popular. She no longer was only Harry’s girlfriend, who had attracted a lot of negative feeling from girls, she had landed Malfoy in detention almost every night of the week, and he had been demoted from team captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team. She was also one of the richest Witches in school now; this aggravated Veronica a great deal since she had never flaunted her wealth before. She suddenly had friends all over the place, and she hated it.

Harry led Veronica to the seventh room corridor and grinned. Veronica had said she wanted to go somewhere where she could be at peace, and where she wouldn’t be persecuted by people who suddenly wanted to know everything about her.

“What’s here?” Veronica asked puzzled as she looked about. One wall was bare, while the other had the portrait of some trolls in Tutu's.

“Walk past this wall three times and think of a place where you want to be at peace,” Harry said and Veronica looked at him skeptically. Then closed her eyes and couldn't at first think of anywhere. She walked in front of the wall, and gasped when she opened her eyes. A door had appeared in the blank wall. 

Harry opened it for her, and he looked with interest into the room that had materialized. Veronica entered and felt tears come into her eyes. Harry closed the door behind him, and stood next to her.

“Where are we?” Harry asked noticing the nostalgia in Veronica’s eyes.

“This was my mother’s favorite room in our house…” Veronica said as she looked about the room. "I couldn't think of anywhere else... I..." she said and became silent taking the room in.

Bookshelves lined the wall on one side; the other three walls were completely covered in windows, with rich golden draperies. Harry was intrigued by the view outside those windows. Large rose gardens spread below. There was a tall hedge that delineated the property line. A lane disappeared on one side of the house and rolled down to wrought iron gates, where a street went by. Harry could see mountains surrounding the small town. He could make out the terracotta roofs of the town. Harry had never seen the room of requirement show a view of outside windows before, and had never thought that it could. This was obviously all created from Veronica’s memory.

“The house burned to the ground when my parents were murdered. I never thought I’d be able to see this again. This is where I go in my dreams, and my mother is always there… playing the piano as she always did,” Veronica said as she walked to the huge black piano in the room. Veronica started at the piano for a moment and sighed. Harry guessed that she had wished to see her mother sitting on the bench. She sat down on the small wooden bench, and gingerly placed her fingers on the keys.

“I haven’t played anything since she died…” she said fingering the keys and feeling the coolness on her fingertips.

“I didn’t know you could play,” Harry said feeling like he was intruding on a very private moment. Veronica smiled at him.

She began to play hesitantly, almost as if she wished to stop herself from doing it. She closed her eyes, and Harry watched as she nimbly stroked the keys. The song was not familiar to Harry, but it was beautiful. He watched in silence as her confidence returned, and felt her emotions pouring out of each note. Suddenly, Veronica slammed her hands on the keys, jolting Harry with the discord of the notes. She buried her face in her hands and wept.

Harry rushed to her and embraced her. “I’m sorry Veronica…” he said feeling guilty for bringing her here.

“Oh God… I miss her so much…” Veronica sobbed onto his shoulder. Harry held her until she no longer cried. He wiped her wet face and Veronica looked up to his vivid green eyes. Harry took her lips into his, and opened his eyes when he felt a certain breeze. He looked around and the room had changed. The windows, books and piano were gone. Now, he was in a lavishly decorated bedroom, and he noticed that he and Veronica were sitting atop a huge four poster bed. She smiled at him.

“You sure we’re safe here? It’s been so long since we’ve been truly alone…” she whispered to his ear and kissed his neck. Harry felt goose bumps rise on his neck and shivered. He took her lips in his, and began to caress her… letting the desires that were rising in him completely overtake him. Veronica moaned as Harry’s hand found the smooth skin under her shirt. Veronica took her robes off, and fiddled with her neck tie. Harry loosened his and slipped it over his head. Veronica was now clad only in her bra and skirt and Harry was fumbling with the clasp of her bra. He jumped slightly as he felt his wristwatch vibrate. He ignored it while Veronica kissed him, as she was pulling his shirt from the restraint of his trousers and began to unbutton it.

This time Harry jumped and stumbled backwards falling off the bed when he heard Hermione’s voice. He had inadvertently pushed the button to connect the link.

<i>“Harry? Harry! Are you there?”</i>

Harry pushed the button immediately to cancel the connection, and looked up to see Veronica with an amused, yet puzzled look on her face as she looked at Harry sprawled on the floor. Harry looked at his watch and paled.

“Get dressed! Quick…”

“What?”

Harry flicked his wand on him and was fully clothed. The room changed and Veronica found herself on top a large cushion. She looked about the room with a wild expression.

“There’s no time to explain! Just do it… and play along please.”

Veronica flicked her wand, and was clothed. Seconds later the door opened and in walked Hannah and Justin.

“Hey Harry!” The pair greeted them and smiled at Veronica. Veronica was looking at Harry questioningly.

“So you did invite her!” Hanna exclaimed.

“Erm, yeah…” Harry stumbled, and Veronica now had her arms crossed. He was lying of course. He had never mentioned anything about the meeting today.

Harry sat next to her. “I am so sorry Veronica… I forgot about the time and to tell you about this…” Harry lied. He had had no intention on telling her about the DA yet, even though the DA had discussed it already.

“What is ‘this’ in any case?”

“It’s a Defense Association where we practice Defense Against the Dark Arts, but we are a secret group and only selected people are members,” Harry tried to explain.

“Harry!” Hermione exclaimed and noticed Veronica sitting next to him. Veronica was distracted at the moment when Cho Chang and Michael Corner came to talk to her. Hermione gave Harry a questioning look, but he waved her off. Hermione walked off, and Harry tried to speak with Veronica again.

As they waited for the rest of the DA to arrive, Hermione approached Harry and Veronica with a parchment and quill. Only after they turned to look at her, did Hermione realize that they had been arguing in quiet tones.

“What’s this?”

“You need to sign your name,” Hermione said uncomfortable and a bit apologetic and looked to Harry. Hadn’t he explained things to her?

“What for?”

“It’s a list of the members of the DA,” Hermione said and pressed the items forward.

“And who says that I’m a member?” Veronica said icily.

“But you have to sign if you are invited…” Harry said pleadingly.

Veronica snatched the parchment, scribbled her name on it, and then threw it on the floor.

Hermione glared at her. “I suggest that if you want to stay…”

“Oh, did I give the impression I wanted to stay?” Veronica said now glaring at Harry and her.

“So then what are you doing here?” Hermione said irritated, as she picked up the scroll.

Veronica crossed her arms, “Yes Harry, why don’t you tell her what I am doing here?” She said a bit loudly. The other members of the DA were looking at the three of them with apprehension.

“Veronica please…” Harry said pinching the bridge of his nose. The last thing he needed was for her to make a scene here.

“Please what!? When were you planning on telling me?” She shrieked.

“Is not that simple…” Harry began, and Veronica turned around and left the Room of Requirement, Harry hot on her heels.

He grabbed her arm and stopped her out in the hallway.

“Look, I couldn’t tell you until I discussed it with everyone. Everyone in the DA has to agree who becomes a new member, and who doesn’t. And there are other things I needed to explain to you about…”

“I don’t care Harry! You could have explained that to me from the beginning without actually telling me a damn thing about the DA. But you’ve been lying to me. So is this what you do when you come up with those lame excuses why you can’t meet me?”

Harry didn’t know what to say. They both turned to see the door open and Hermione stepped out.

“Mind your own business!” Veronica spat at her.

Hermione ignored her and asked Harry. “Did you warn her?” Harry saw that her wand was in her hands. Harry shook his head at her.

“I said butt out!” Veronica yelled with anger.

“I just wanted to warn you… you cannot tell a soul about our group, unless you want to end up looking like Marietta Edgecomb… you did sign after all,” Hermione said threateningly, although a smirk was on her face. “We’ll be waiting for you Harry…” Hermione said and went back into the room, and Harry groaned.

Veronica’s eyes widened. She looked accusingly at Harry.

“The parchment…”

“And you let me sign it!?” She shrieked. Harry was about to answer when she slapped him.

“Go back to your stupid group and your f*****g mudblood!”

Harry had been bewildered by her slap, and sudden anger flared in him. He grabbed her by the wrists.

“DON’T YOU EVER CALL HER THAT!” He screamed his face full of rage, and the lights in the corridor flickered. Neither noticed it.

“Let go!” Veronica screamed equally enraged, and Harry seemed to realize he was holding her. He let go of her arms. Veronica whirled around and stormed off.

“Veronica…” Harry called. She turned to face him, her wand pointed at his face.

“You stay away from me! I don’t want you near me ever again!” She screamed and left an astonished Harry looking at her retreating back.

Chapter 35: You Asked Who?
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Chapter 35
You asked who?


Dejectedly, Harry returned to the Room of Requirements, where the others avoided making eye contact with him. He was in an irritated mood, and Ron and Hermione took over the lessons. They were reviewing the new spells that they had learned. Scipioardore made the opponent’s wand get so hot, it burned the skin, and they were forced to drop it. The other spell created a small iron cage that trapped the opponent, and it blocked spells cast from the inside. Most members were getting quite adept at using these, although the caging spell was more complicated, and so far it only lasted a few seconds.

“So what happened, mate?” Ron asked him, as he, Harry, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and George lounged in the common room.

“We broke up…” Harry said not really wanting to speak about it. Ginny and Hermione gasped.

“Sorry to hear…” George said with a somber expression.

“I still can’t believe it… I mean, we’ve had worse arguments before… it really seems stupid,” Harry said unable to hide his hurt feelings.

“Maybe she’ll come around… I mean, it was a rather stressful weekend for her. What with Malfoy and having to deal with the lawsuit, and to top it off… now people that have never spoken to her or even know her are acting as if they’ve been her friends all this time… it would be enough to make someone go crazy…” Ginny said.

“Yeah, plus not to mention that she is a member of the mysterious female population and she perhaps is suffering from PBS…” George added.

“PBS?” Hermione asked with curiosity.

“I read all about it in this muggle magazine Dad had… something to do with the ‘time of the month’ or other and that women became dangerous creatures during that time. I found it quite enlightening. Now I know that when Katie is in this weird snappy mood every once in a while, I stay away as was advised by the magazine. It’s worked wonders for our relationship. I have wondered if it isn’t some sort of muggle lycanthropic disease or other. I mean, it said it happened once a month, but my theory that it was affected by the full moon didn’t hold…”

Hermione burst out laughing. Ginny giggled.

“What’s so funny?”

“PMS, not PBS…” Hermione said and shook her head.

“That’s right… that does sound correct.”

Harry couldn’t help but smile.

The next few days were weird. Whenever Harry met Veronica in a hallway, he could have been a fly splattered on the wall for all that she took notice. Harry had wanted to speak with her, especially since the Halloween Ball was this Thursday night and they were supposed to be going together although Harry knew that it wasn’t likely to happen now. He hadn’t been able to approach her, because now Veronica walked with a mob of girls that seemed rather hostile towards him.

On Wednesday night, Harry headed down to the Library to meet Hermione, Ron, Neville, Dean and Seamus who were working on narrowing down the list of Planes some more. Ginny was with them now as she had been informed of the situation (she rather figured out for herself and after about an hour of arguing they had finally agreed). She did want to help. As soon as Harry entered, he felt eyes on him. He walked quickly towards the area where they usually gathered, feeling his face burn hotter. He wondered what was going on.

The six people in the table looked up at Harry, and they all held the same expressions as the rest of the students in the library. He placed his book bag down and took out a quill.

“What?” Harry asked frowning.

“Michael Corner dumped Cho…” Ginny began with an air of might-as-well-get-it-over-with. Harry was confused.

“So…?”

“… and he’s asked Veronica to the Halloween Ball. They are going together…” Ginny said and Harry felt as if someone had scooped all the air out of his lungs. They were waiting for him to explode. There was a snap, and the quill in his hand trembled, folded within his palm.

“Well…” Harry began and they saw him visibly shake holding down his rage. “Good for him. Let’s work on the list,” he said shortly as he sat rather violently on the chair and slammed the quill onto the table. He took another one. They worked for the next hour mostly in silence, and Harry had simply stared at the same piece of parchment, reading it perhaps 100 times and never seeing a single word in it. Neville jumped occasionally when Harry would attempt to write something, only to snap the quill in half.

“We obviously aren’t getting much done…” Hermione said finally and stood up. “Not to mention that Harry has broken all of our quills,” she said smiling with understanding. Harry looked up surprised, and for the first time seemed to notice the pile of broken quills next to him. He blushed with embarrassment.

“Why don’t we each take some more scrolls and work on it when we each have time. Just let me know of any other planes that you find that we can cross out off the list,” Hermione said and the group agreed. Everyone cleared out of the table rather quickly but Hermione lingered.

“Will you be all right Harry?”

Harry’s anger had subsided somewhat now, and he was now brooding. He managed to nod.

“I don’t want to pretend I know what you’re feeling right now, but you should put up a fight you know? At least get yourself another date for the ball, and ignore her as she ignores you. Don’t let her see that she’s getting to you,” Hermione said and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t stay too late… we’ll see you back in Gryffindor,” Hermione said and left him alone.

Harry sat in the table for a little longer thinking about what Hermione had said. He was actually thinking about not attending the ball at all. He was not interested in seeing Veronica having fun with Michael.

Madam Pince gave the 15 minute warning before the Library would close and Harry picked up his things and left. He was wondering who would be left to go to the Halloween ball with at any rate, and he thought he was in the same boat he was two years ago. The last minute date had not been successful. Also, Parvati already had a partner. Harry raced down the hall of the fourth floor absorbed in his thoughts when he ran into someone carrying a pile of boxes.

“Oof!” He heard the girl’s voice as the boxes went flying everywhere, several of them spilling their contents. Harry lost his footing and landed on his rump. He straightened his glasses that had been knocked askew on his nose.

“Harry! Were you being persecuted by the Labogabs?” Luna said blinking at Harry from her seated position where she had landed. She had an extremely worried expression on her face.

Harry couldn’t help but laugh. He didn’t want to ask what the heck Labogabs were, and felt his brooding mood and frustration evaporate in an instant. He laughed heartily, while Luna looked on with worry.

“Oh dear! Did they get you?” She asked alarmed, now sitting on her knees next to Harry and pressing her hand on his forehead. “You haven’t a fever yet… this is good,” she said while Harry doubled up with laughter. She rummaged through the bag she had slung across from one shoulder and pulled a piece of whitish looking something; before Harry could stop her, she had shoved it into his wide open mouth. Harry coughed and sputtered as he chocked on the thing, and swallowed it involuntarily, and began to gag.

“That ought to do it. Garlic is extremely useful against Labogabs,” Luna said as she pulled a flask of clear liquid and handed it to Harry.

“What’s this?” Harry said hoarsely, the strong smell of garlic coming from his breath.

“Just water, it’ll help the garlic go down,” she replied.

Harry uncorked the flask and downed the water. He still had that spicy feeling in his mouth and strong smell of garlic.

“Now that Labogabs will surely leave you alone tonight!” Luna said brightly and Harry thought that with his breath smelling like that, anything would stay away from him tonight. He looked at Luna who seemed extremely pleased with herself for helping him, and he sighed.

“Thank you Luna, I surely needed that…” he said and smiled despite himself.

He began to help Luna pick up the spilled contents of the boxes, and noticed the dark indigo blue low heeled sandals coming out of a shoe box. Luna was folding a tulle dress of the same color into a white square box.

“Is this your dress for tomorrow night?” Harry asked wondering who was taking her to the ball.

“It was supposed to be. I am actually taking all of these to the Owlery to mail them back to my Aunt. I had told her that there was a Halloween Ball this year, and she mailed all of this stuff for me, but I don’t need it,” she said with a dreamy smile as she picked up a box that contained some hair accessories, and some elbow length indigo blue gloves.

“Oh, you already have a dress?” Harry asked picking up a box absentmindedly, and then dropped it when he noticed it was lingerie.

“Oh no, I am not going to the dance. No one is interested in asking me…” Luna said as a matter of fact. She picked up the box that Harry dropped and replaced the contents inside.

Harry wasn’t quite sure how to react or respond to that. Luna didn’t seem to be upset that nobody had asked her, and Harry felt a twinge of admiration. Luna seemed like someone who accepted who she was and the world around her. She never seemed fazed by the fact that people picked on her, or that they thought she was crazy.

“I’ve got an idea,” Harry said involuntarily as a voice in his head asked him if he was crazy. “I don’t have a partner for the ball anymore, and you have all this stuff your aunt sent you… why don’t we go together?” He asked and felt like slapping himself the moment the words left his mouth.

“Me? You are asking me to go with you to the ball?” Luna asked surprised. “I really didn’t think you would be the type that would be interested in asking me,” she said with a huge smile.

“I mean… as friends. You are my friend, and why not?” Harry said a bit taken aback by her truthful assessment, and feeling that there was no way to back out of it now.

“I’ve never been asked to a dance before! I mean, I’ve never been asked for real. There have been several times when I’ve been asked, but it turns out that they didn’t mean it, and I’ve been stood up. This is really nice of you Harry,” she said and Harry had the uncomfortable feeling that she seemed to understand that he was being nice to her. Her expression turned to one of suspicion. “You aren’t planning a bad joke on me, if you are, I mean, that’s ok. I’d just rather know so I can do something else if you plan on not showing up…” Luna said casually.

“No, I mean it,” Harry said. She smiled at him.

“Should we meet by the entrance hall?” She asked picking up all of the boxes, almost dropping them. Harry levitated them for her, and she looked surprised. “..of course…” she mumbled as if the idea had been a novelty.

“No, I’ll come over to the Ravenclaw tower and pick you up around seven,” Harry said and Luna agreed.

Harry made his way back to Gryffindor trying to sort out exactly what had made him ask Luna Lovegood to the Halloween Ball with him. He sighed loudly and wrinkled his nose at the smell of garlic.

“You asked who?” Ron looked at Harry incredulous. “You’ve lost your gobstones…” Ron said shaking his head, but he was grinning. He had been in a foul mood this week since the subject of the Halloween Ball had resurfaced the fact that he was to take Bianca Malfoy to the party. On Tuesday night, while Harry had been with Joséphine and Donovan, Ron had landed in detention for fighting with Malfoy. He had been forced to polish the trophy room alongside Draco who murmured threats to him the whole night for daring to ask Bianca to the ball. It didn’t matter that Ron yelled at him that it wasn’t his choice. (“Sure Weasel, you are just trying to take advantage of the opportunity to snare your hands on our fortune.” Malfoy had said, to which Ron reminded him that it was worth less now, and that soon Malfoy would have to work to earn a living.)

Regardless, Lavender Brown had practically forced herself as his date and was to go to the ball with him once he rid himself of Bianca. It was only because of the bet, he now assured her, and that he’d plan to ask her all along. So now it would be Harry stuck with a less than desirable date.

“Be nice Ron!” Hermione reprimanded him to the surprise of both Harry and Ron. They thought she didn’t like Luna.

“Oh, she’s all right,” Hermione replied and shrugged.

The next morning, news of Harry’s new date had reached everyone’s ears and the Slytherins laughed at Harry, and tormented Luna. Professor Donovan had to threaten the sixth year Gryffindors and Slytherins with detentions when things began to get ugly during lunch.

“Don’t pay attention to them Harry. I am really happy for Luna. She’s really excited,” Ginny said to Harry when they were leaving the Great Hall, though Harry didn’t see the disappointment in her tone. “Which reminds me, she said to pick her up outside of the Room of Requirement,” she said rallying up, “and I am going to help her with her hair, and Lavender and Parvati will be helping Hermione and Padma,” she added and looked at the clock. “I guess I best be going to class. We’re supposed to meet there right after you guys get done with Herbology,” Ginny waved goodbye and headed to Charms with Professor Lupin.

Harry wondered how it could take girls four hours to get ready. He shook his head, joined Hermione and Ron and headed to the greenhouses.

When Harry and Ron returned to the common room, they found the celebrations were already starting. First, second and third years were decorating the common room to have their own celebration since they were not allowed in the Great Hall unless invited by someone from a higher form. Also, since the Great Hall needed major preparations to accommodate the bands hired to play tonight (rumour was that three bands were lined up!), a sort of Halloween feast would be served in each common room. Most of the older students weren’t going to eat anyway, since a lot of them would be getting ready, and there would be refreshments at the Ball.

Harry and Ron played some chess to kill the time before they would have to get ready.

Hermione was down at the Great Hall helping the Head Boy and Head Girl. She was part of a volunteer committee made up of Prefects from all houses to decorate and set up everything. It was five o’clock when Terry came to her.

“I think you should be able to leave now and get ready,” he said as he stood next to her surveying the Great Hall.

Hermione was examining the ‘to do’ list to make sure everything had been taken care of. “Are you sure?” She asked and he nodded.

“Yes, all the other girls have gone back and there isn’t much left to do but wait now. Besides, I will still be here for a while; it only takes me 10 minutes to shower and another 10 to get ready,” he winked at her. “Go on.”

“All right, I’ll leave…” Hermione said handing him the ‘to do’ list.

“Meet me in the staff room ten minutes before the doors are to be open. We’re entering through the back to keep the Great Hall doors closed,” Terry said and Hermione nodded.

The castle was practically deserted as she made her way all the way up to the Gryffindor tower. Ginny had taken all of her things to the Room of Requirements, but Hermione had forgotten to set out her hair brooches that she was going to use to put her hair up. The common room was a bustle of noise and activity as the feast was served, and people were eating, playing games, dancing. There were a lot of people already dressed for the Ball mingling amongst the younger students. She waved at Harry and Ron, who were with Neville, Fred and George playing a game of exploding snap. Hermione raced up the steps to the sixth year dorms, and passing by the first year rooms just before her own, she thought she heard someone crying. She wasn’t sure because of the noise coming up from the common room. Yes, someone was crying. Hermione pushed the door open and found Bianca Malfoy on the floor by her bed crying. She was huddled with her knees drawn up, hear head on her knees.

“Bianca?” Hermione asked with a frown. “Bianca, what’s wrong? Why aren’t you getting ready for the ball?” Hermione wondered if Ron had been a prat to her.

Bianca looked up to Hermione, her pale blue eyes bloodshot from crying.

“I… I… can’t… it’s ruined…” she managed to say amidst her tears.

“Ruined?” Hermione asked kneeling next to her. Bianca extended her legs to reveal a cream colored bundle of rags.

“My… dress…” she said holding the rags to Hermione and Hermione gasped.

“Do you know who did this?” Hermione asked feeling sorry for Bianca. She knew from observing the first year that although she had appeared aloof about the Halloween Ball, she had been really excited despite the fact that Ron was being nasty to her. He would take her no matter how much he threatened not to. Bianca had known that. Also, Bianca was the only first year Gryffindor attending the Ball, and many of her classmates and second and third years resented her that. She had put up with everything, because no matter what, she was still going and they weren’t.

Bianca shook her head in response. Hermione tried to calm her down so she could speak. Bianca sniffed and took a shaky breath. “When I came back from class… I set out everything on my bed so I could get ready… and I went to the showers… when I came out… this… this is all that was left of my dress… and my shoes are gone, and… my necklace… it’s mum’s necklace… it’s gone!” Bianca managed to say before she dissolved into tears again.

Hermione stood up infuriated. Since this had been done inside the Gryffindor tower it meant that a Gryffindor had done it. She knew many hated Bianca for simply being a Malfoy, but even then… this was a low blow for Gryffindors. Gryffindors should not behave like this!

“We’ll sort this out right now!” Hermione said as she stood up, “I’m going to get Professor McGonagall. Do you have a piece of parchment?”

Bianca pointed to her trunk and Hermione opened it and took a blank piece of parchment.

She used Bianca’s quill that was on her bedside cupboard and scribbled a message. She folded the piece of paper.

“Dobby?” Hermione called and a faint pop revealed the house elf. Bianca jumped up a little bit.

“Harry Potter’s friend asks for Dobby?” The overly excited house elf squeaked.

“Yes, I need a favor… do you think you could take this to Professor McGonagall. It is really urgent…” Hermione said Dobby took the note.

“Dobby will help Harry Potter’s friends. Ms is Harry Potter’s best friend and a friend of Dobby’s!” The house elf bowed.

“Dobby?”

Dobby turned to look at the blond girl, who looked at him with surprise.

“Miss Malfoy!” Dobby squealed delighted. “Dobby didn’t know the miss was here at Hogwarts… Dobby didn’t think Master Malfoy would allow it!... Why is the miss crying!” Dobby asked realizing now that Bianca had been crying.

“Because someone did something very mean to her, and that’s why I need Professor McGonagall,” Hermione answered.

“Dobby will get help right away miss!” The house elf responded and disappeared with a faint pop.

“I didn’t know Dobby was here,” Bianca said managing to stand up and sit on her bed. Her tears had stopped now, but she still held her ragged dress in her lap.

“He’s a free elf now. He works for Dumbledore.”

“I heard father say that we were best rid of him. He was really mad when I asked him why Dobby wasn’t with him when he came to visit,” Bianca said and Hermione was puzzled. [i]Visit?[/i]

The noise coming from the common room died down considerably. Hermione knew that McGonagall had just entered the common room. Even though she was head of house, McGonagall rarely visited the tower. Few seconds later, the elegantly dressed Professor strode into the first year room. She was wearing a dress of deep dark green, with a high collar and long sleeves. Hermione noticed that the tight bun of hair was gone, instead the professor had arranged it with braids coiled around in a loose bun; probably her version of letting her hair down.

“Miss Granger, I received your note. It seemed urgent,” Professor McGonagall said her lips pressed into a thin line.

Hermione explained how she found Bianca crying and what she told her, then Professor McGonagall questioned Bianca. Hermione noticed the facial expression of McGonagall change from her usual stern look, to one of pure wrath. She was livid; yet when she spoke, it was with an icy calm.

“Please hand me your dress, Miss Malfoy. Follow me.”

The three made their way to the common room. McGonagall silenced the music, and everyone looked at each other nervously. Harry looked up at Hermione questioningly and noticed Bianca next to her, her eyes puffy and blood shot.

McGonagall tapped her wand to her neck. “All Gryffindors return to the common room immediately. You have two minutes,” McGonagall said and Harry knew that her voice had been amplified and delivered throughout the castle. Within seconds the Portrait hole opened and anyone outside of the common room began to come in. Ginny, Lavender, Parvati, Joséphine, Katie, and other girls that had been in the room of requirements came in with hair-do’s halfway done and unfinished make up. They were wearing dressing robes.

McGonagall waited one more minute to allow any last minute stragglers. The common room was silent, and everyone gave each other nervous looks. McGonagall looked terrifying.

“This…” McGonagall began as she unrolled the ragged and destroyed dress which didn’t resemble a dress at all, “is what is left of Miss Malfoy’s Halloween dress.” The old witch looked at everyone, fire blazing in her eyes. There was a gasp of horror.

“Not only is there a Gryffindor without scruples that would stoop so low to commit this atrocity, there is also a thief; more likely thieves. This is intolerable, unbearable and unacceptable. Whoever did this is not only insulting and demoralizing the very principles that make Gryffindor a great house, they are also tainting the reputation of everyone in this common room today. Sir Godric Gryffindor himself is probably twisting in his grave thinking about the behavior displayed today!” McGonagall said, her nostrils flaring.

“The individual or individuals who did this are a disgrace to our Gryffindor pride. I will give you only one chance to redeem yourselves. If you give yourself up at this moment, I will be lenient and will only deal out detentions. Refuse and you will be expelled when I find who did this. And believe me when I say that I will find out who did it! Even if I have to force-feed each and every one of you a goblet full of Veritaserum and subject you to the Ministry of Magic’s interrogation! The acts committed today are punishable by law. Stealing and damage of personal property is a crime. Now, whoever did this step forward right this instant. And if any of you know anything about this, it will be in your best interest to point out the persons responsible for this.”

The whole house was aghast. Hermione had noticed a couple of Bianca’s roommates pale, and a few others. Nobody dared to even breathe at this moment.

“Very well… detention for everyone…”

The whole house broke into yells of anger, disbelief, and shock.

“SILENCE! Since no one will step up to take responsibilities for their actions, it will befall on everyone to pay for the crime of a few. The Halloween Ball has been cancelled to ALL Gryffindors. Your curfew from now on will be 7 pm for the rest of the year, and you will all be in bed by 9 pm sharp. The Gryffindor Quidditch Team is banned from playing, and I will deduct 100 points from everyone in this room!” McGonagall yelled above the panicking, rage stricken students. They were howling in pandemonium. (It’s unfair! 100 points each from her own house; we’ll be in the hole a biillion points! You can’t cancel Quidditch! Professor! Please!) Girls were sobbing, boys were giving everyone death glares. Threats to whoever did it came out. Those who did it better leave school before anyone found out…

“I SAID SILENCE! Everyone to your rooms!”

“REBECCA DID IT!” someone yelled from the crowd.

“Who said that?” McGonagall turned from where the voice had come.

A small first year girl named Sofia stepped in front of McGonagall. She was trembling.

“Rebecca Ditsworth did it!”

“Miss Ditsworth, come up to my presence now!” McGonagall said livid.

A third year student, with dark black hair came through the parted crowd. She had begun to cry.

“Did you destroy Miss Malfoy’s dress?”

Rebecca couldn’t answer, but she nodded.

“Why?”

“Emma Pakin told me to do it!” Rebbeca finally managed to say pointing her finger at another first year girl with short, curly blonde hair.

“No, it’s a lie! I didn’t do anything!” Emma screamed with fear.

“Miss Pakin…”

“It was all Sofia’s idea!” Emma said pointing her finger at Sofia.

The girl who had shouted Rebbeca’s name paled… “No, Professor! I swear… I was just in the room. I had dropped my ring and it rolled under my bed! They didn’t see me when they came in, they thought they were alone! They did it! I heard Emma say she’d take the necklace and that Rebecca could take the shoes! They threatened me when they found out I was there!” Sofia said as she began to sob. “I didn’t do anything… I swear Professor; I wouldn’t do that to Bianca or anyone…”

“Enough! Go and retrieve the items that do not belong to you,” McGonagall said to Emma and Rebecca, “then the three of you will come with me. The rest of you are relieved from any punishment,” McGonagall said and the students screamed with joy and relief. McGonagall turned to Hermione and Bianca.

“Miss Granger, will you see to it that Miss Malfoy is ready to attend the Halloween Ball?”

“Of course, Professor.”

“But I don’t have a dress anymore,” Bianca said disheartened.

“It will take me a few minutes to undo whatever they did to it. I will send the dress with Dobby,” McGonagall said giving Bianca a small smile.

Emma and Rebecca came back and handed the necklace and the shoes to Professor McGonagall. McGonagall made them apologize to Bianca, and deducted 200 points, then left the common room with Sofia, Rebecca, and Emma following her. The whole of Gryffindor were glaring daggers at them. They had almost ruined everything for everyone, not to mention that they were over 100 points in the hole now.

Hermione retrieved her hairpieces, and helped Bianca gather the rest of her things. They left with Ginny and the other girls that were getting ready in the room of requirement. The girls felt sympathetic towards Bianca now, and were being very kind to her.

When they arrived at the room of Requirement, the other girls from the DA from other houses listened intently to what had happened as they continued to comb each other’s hairs, apply make up, and make last minute adjustments to their dresses. Shower and bathroom stalls appeared when needed, mirrors, lights, everything they could think of that they needed to get ready was given by the room. It had been such a great idea to get changed in here. They all oooohed, and aaaahed as each revealed their dresses.

Bianca relished the opportunity to hang out with so many of the older, and some of the most popular girls in her house. Ginny helped her do her hair and Parvati even did her make up. They all complimented her beautiful dress and the gorgeous ruby and diamonds necklace that she wore. It was a frenzy of activity as the clock stroked 6:30 pm.

Hermione looked herself in the mirror one last time as she swung a large, black cowl around her shoulders, closed the clasp to hide her dress, and pulled on the large hood to hide her hair style. Joséphine had told them about this practice at Beauxbatons to hide their dresses until the very last second. It did make for a grand appearance. Everyone had thought it a good idea.

“All right, I have to get going. I will see you in the great Hall!” Hermione said as she left 20 minutes to seven to meet up with Terry at the staff room. They would take the back entrance into the Great Hall.

When she stepped out of the Room of Requirement, she smiled at Neville, who was wearing a pair of elegant midnight blue dress robes. He held a bouquet of White Lilies in his hands. He waved sheepishly. Dean Thomas was there as well, with a bouquet of Magnolias. They were waiting for their dates. Hermione rushed down the hall, down the steps, and down the marble staircase attracting curious glances from those gathered, or making their way, to the Great Hall. Hermione smirked. Joséphine was right… hiding her dress and hair made it more exciting.

She noticed Pansy Parkinson hanging off of Malfoy’s arm glaring at her. Pansy’s dress was exquisite, but now everyone would see it right away, while Hermione’s dress was a mystery and now everyone was speculating about it. Pansy was scowling.

Hermione knocked on the door, ignoring the threats of the Gargoyles. Professor Snape opened the door, and looked with indifference at her hooded and cloaked persona. He let her in with a bored expression, although Hermione later caught him looking at her.

“Good evening Professors,” she said and several of them answered her. Hagrid was there speaking with Dumbledore and he was positively beaming at Hermione, and waving enthusiastically.

Terry was conversing with Professor McGonagall when she came in. He turned to Hermione, and smiled. The Head Girl was ogling Hermione with unhidden curiosity, and loathing. Her Slytherin date was looking at Hermione with repulsion. She ignored both.

“Let me take your coat,” Terry said and Hermione pulled the hood off her head, and undid the clasps of her cowl. Remus was smiling at Hermione, and nodded at her appreciatively. Hermione blushed. She felt everyone’s attention on her.

“You look stunning tonight,” Terry said as he kissed her cheek, and handed her a bouquet of yellow roses.

“Thank you Terry, you look very handsome as well,” she replied as she took his offered arm.

“I think it is time,” Professor Dumbledore said with a large smile, and winked at Hermione.

They made their way to the Great Hall, and several of the Professors that hadn’t seen the Great Hall yet gasped excitedly. Hermione took out her mask and placed it on her face. Her mask was a ¾ face mask with a moon-shaped cut away design. The mask was made from paper mache face, gold leaf, gilt accent design, braid and a small charm.

Terry was wearing all black, and his mask was a simple Harlekin white mask. Hermione hung back, as Terry and the Head Girl made their way to the doors. They opened the doors and welcomed those gathered to the Halloween Masquerade Ball.

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