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Chapter Twenty Seven “Nadia?” She had not looked at him she was digging through the small azure spheres and looking at the runes upon them. “Are you all right?” Harry wanted to tell her that the last person on earth other than Pettigrew he wanted protecting him was Malfoy but he had seen how much she had been through that day already and could not bring himself to chastise her. “Yes.” She lied. She found the orbs containing her father’s work, and she kept digging until she found the cracked orb he had managed to unearth. The orbs could be hidden but they could not be destroyed. “Take him back.” She tossed him the second sack and said, “Make sure you’re all touching it when you go.” Harry eyed the third sack. It had to be another Portkey. “Where are you going?” Nadia stopped and looked at him her expression pained and sad. “I have to do something, Harry. I’m sorry that it means leaving but I have to do this for my father, my family. It has to be done. I swear it is the right thing to do.” Well if she was going to face something difficult there was no way he would just let her set off on her own. “I’m coming with you then.” Nadia opened her mouth to argue that Harry could not help her where she was going but her time was short. Phim was crouched down next the heavily stunned Slytherin. She had thought she would be able to use the bag to press the Portkey into his hand but knew it was not necessary now. She could not let Harry come with her it would be too difficult for him to witness and again, he would try to prevent it. The old magic would still have it’s revenge and one way or another even if she had to shed her own blood and set the Fire free no matter what Dumbledore said about balance. Her mind worked quickly though. “All right.” It was all in her letter and Nadia knew her true feelings for him. “Give Phim the return Portkey. ” She had needed an entirely separate one because she had other work to do. Phim’s eyes shot wide at this and his gaze shifted immediately to her face but he knew she had to be trying to do something good if she had been willing to go through all of this without harming Malfoy. She was trying to protect Harry from something. Phim stood up and extended his hand but did not advance an inch. As soon as he was a safe distance away she took out the last Portkey and laid it atop the trunk. Grabbing hold of the handle of the container that held the orbs she needed she shouted out: “Harry! I’m sorry.” She hated tricking him. “Goodbye.” Before Harry could reach her she was gone but he had seen the Portkey and he knew what it meant. It was the heart shaped necklace he had given her for Christmas. He knew she did love him. It was very small comfort. :::::::::::::::::::::: “Where are we?” Phim asked as Draco’s inert form lay on the carpet beside him. “Professor Burns office.” Harry answered dully. He was too upset to feel much of anything at the moment. Nadia had tricked him and yet he could not feel angry with her. She’d obviously been trying to do something to help him on that rock and the memories of what had happened to her family still stung. “Oh, there you are.” Sophie said casually as she looked up from her desk but her relief was incredible. She pointed her wand at Draco and roused him with a spell. “How was your field trip Mr. Malfoy? Did you have any luck?"” “MY WHAT?” Draco spluttered. “I was kidnapped, nearly murdered and….” “Were you?” Sophie said mildly. “It seems that you decided to take Mr. Potter and Mr. Sliverton with you at the last moment. Gave us all a bit of fright Draco, I’m surprised at you.” Sophie turned towards Harry and Phim. Harry’s face was stone-like and Phim was looking at her questioningly. “So, what happened, you weren’t able to find the Forthmon? I thought it was rather brave of Mr. Malfoy to ask for permission to leave school grounds and bring one back for class. I’d really wanted the third years to have a chance to study them…but I have a hard time getting hold of them myself.” She’s giving us a clue Harry thought but didn’t much care. Forthmons were said to inhabit regions in Eastern Europe and were frequently mistaken for vampires. They were however completely harmless and easily identified during the day because they could roam about in the sunlight. “No. We didn’t find one.” Harry said, his voice flat. So Professor Burns had somehow been in on this also? “Nothing in sight.” Phim immediately backed him up. “We did search for a bit, Draco got a bit of a nasty cut…but there weren’t any there.” “THEY’RE LYING!” Draco shouted. “It was that girl…that Nadia…” Sophie looked at him in surprise and held up a letter that Neville Longbottom had given her that morning. “But, Nadia’s decided to leave the school. She left behind several letters to her classmates and some of her teachers.” Harry glared at Sophie and she tried to keep her gaze steady. “What are you talking about? She kidnapped me this morning! She had a Portkey and we couldn’t do any magic…” Sophie couldn’t meet Harry’s gaze. “Draco, I think you’re a bit confused. You came to me several days ago asking if you could do this as extra credit. It took me days to file the necessary paperwork with the Ministry but I knew how important it was to you for your N.E.W.T.s.” Sophie smiled. “I guess it’s handy having a Ministry official as a teacher sometimes. I am sorry that you seemed to have been so rattled by the journey.” Draco was bright red with fury but there was nothing he could do. Obviously Professor Burns had helped Nadia but he had no idea how he would prove it. “You….you’ll be fired….my father…” Draco was stuttering. “I’ll tell him…and….” “What will you tell your father, Draco?” Sophie arranged her face into a confused expression. “That I tried to help you? I’m sure he’ll be pleased that we’re letting bygones be bygones. He and I well…you know your father Draco, don’t you? He’s never been the best of friends with me. I thought he’d be so pleased that we had worked together.” Sophie smiled at Draco. “He knows people in the Ministry….you’ll be fired.” Draco said again. “Ah, well, I know people in the Ministry too. Somehow I think they’ll take my word over yours or his for that matter.” Sophie’s tone was bland. “The Minister of Magic did sign off on the Portkey creation after all.” Draco glared at the three other people in the room. He knew he was beaten. “May I go please?” Draco spat out. “Professor?” “Certainly.” Sophie said. “Consider yourself dismissed.” :::::::::::::::::::::: Harry whirled about and faced the Sophie as soon as Draco had left the room. “You, you were in on all of this too?” Sophie flinched slightly at the look in his eyes. Harry felt his anger begin to rise. “You need to tell me where she is, you helped her. I know you did.” There was a light knock at the door and after Sophie called out to enter, Albus Dumbledore stepped into the room. “Harry, Phim.” He nodded to them both. “Mr. Sliverton, I think I have found something that belongs to you. You should be more careful with these.” He held forth the two invisibility cloaks. Phim looked at Harry as he mumbled a thank you. They had not been alone on that rock after all and they both knew it. “Tell me where she is!’ Harry shouted at the Headmaster. The Headmaster turned towards Harry and looked at him over his spectacles. “Nadria has gone to complete her quest Harry, I assure you that this is for the best.” Harry swallowed heavily. “Is she coming back?” Dumbledore continued to look at the young man in front of him. “That I do not know.” Harry stared silently for a moment from Professor Burns back to Dumbledore. “None of you care, do you?” He said bitterly. “You don’t care how much I have to lose as long as Voldemort ends up beaten.” “On the contrary Harry, I care very much indeed.” The Headmaster answered. Sophie was trying to repress tears and found herself unable to speak. “I don’t believe you.” Harry answered. “I imagine that you do not.” The Headmaster sighed. “But Nadriania had work to do Harry, something she had to do for her father among others. She has something she must do for the good of her own people, you must understand that.” For a moment the office was so silent that the only sound that could be heard was the sound of the people breathing in it. “May we go?” Harry said. “Of course you may go.” Dumbledore answered. “But remember Harry, she chose this and it was not an easy thing for her.” Harry did not answer but the look he shot towards his Headmaster was furious and he and Phim left the room together. Sophie slumped down onto her desk as soon as they were gone. She knew Harry would feel betrayed but it didn’t erase the memory of how happy he and Nadia had seemed with each other these past few months. The previous summer she had been part of trying to help heal his pain, now she was a part of causing it. She found herself beginning to cry. “Tell me that this is all worth it. He has lost so much already Albus, it’s got to be for something.” “Nadria invoked a blood rite.” The Headmaster told her quietly, “demanding that a debt be paid to her.” “And?” Sophie desperately wanted to hear something hopeful. “Draco Malfoy will now have to protect Harry with his own life if necessary.” He said. “Do you think it made any difference at all?” Sophie said after she had digested this piece of news. “Seeing what his father is truly like?” “Perhaps, although I doubt very much he realizes it yet.” Dumbledore was rather skeptical. He had seen Draco’s reaction and knew there was little hope there. Draco had been brought up to hate, there were few things that could possibly undo that. “Great.” Sophie said sarcastically. “That’s bloody marvelous. Harry gets his heart broken again and now he has a junior Death Eater who has to protect him. It seems like a piss poor trade off to me.” Dumbledore looked at Sophie and did not dare tell her the truth of the matter. That Harry might have to live with Nadia’s death as well. But there was hope, after all, Firenze had agreed to help. ::::::::::::::::::: “Harry, are you all right?” Phim’s tone was concerned as they walked down the corridor together. “Not even remotely.” Harry seethed. “I’m so sorry Harry, I should have told you.” Phim was distraught. “I didn’t think she’d do it, I didn’t think she was capable of killing anyone.” “Well, she wasn’t, was she?” Harry was absolutely furious and stopped in his tracks. “Now she’s gone, she’s most likely in horrible danger and I’ve got no way of…” He stopped and an odd look crossed his face. He began sprinting down the corridor away from Phim. :::::::::::::::: “Harry?” Ron asked when he had returned to their room. “What’s this about? I’ve had a letter from Nadia and…” Harry however moved directly to the trunk and threw it open. . “Harry…what is it?” Ron asked hesitantly. “Where would you like me to start? The part where Nadia decided to run away and leave me? Or the part where Sliverton turned out to be the only person I thought I could trust but he knew and didn’t bother telling me?” He spat out. “Uh…maybe you had better start from the beginning.” Ron eyed Harry. He’d been upset with Harry for showing so little confidence in him but he’d talked to Hermione. She told him that it was utter nonsense and there could only be one reason that Phim would have been Harry’s choice, Phim was Nadia’s closest friend and made the most sense. As much as Ron had wanted to, he’d never quite been able to warm up to Nadia until he read her letter to him. She told him that she had to leave the school and that more than anyone else, she trusted him to look after Harry and help him when she was gone because he was his best friend. Harry began to spit out the tale in short sentences. His anger rising with each word as he scrabbled through his trunk. Where was that damned thing? “He even helped her go. At the very last moment he was the one that helped her escape.” Harry’s head was throbbing. Ron wished desperately that he could think of something to say that would comfort Harry but turning his back on Phim certainly didn’t sound right. If anything, it sounded as if Phim had been trying to help Nadia as much as Nadia had tried to help Harry. “Mate?” Ron said. “Maybe he just understood that she really needed to go. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you.” Harry glared at him. “I dunno Harry, maybe she’ll still be able to come back somehow.” Ron was simply searching for something to help his friend. “Maybe she just missed home and her people?” “Oh for God’s sake, don’t you understand, we’re her people now Ron! I saw them I saw all of them die. The only people she has any connection to now are here.” Harry said in an unpleasant tone. He threw a shirt onto the floor and pitched several books after it. Finally he held up a small red ball triumphantly. “FIND NADIA!” He shouted and the ball hovered in the air for a moment before dropping to the ground. She couldn’t be…she just simply couldn’t be dead, he thought and picked up the ball and hurled it across the room where it came to rest in a corner. “She’s…that thing is supposed to be able to find her wherever she...she’s…she’s dead.” Harry sat down on the bed. All of his anger was gone and replaced by a terribly numb feeling. She had to be dead. “Wait!” Ron shouted. “Didn’t you say that Dumbledore used some magic that would allow anyone other than Nadia’s to work?” Harry looked up and nodded. “Harry, maybe she’s somewhere that his magic is blocking her from you!” Ron said triumphantly. Harry felt a small ping of hope. If she could come back to him she would. Wouldn’t she? Phim had been standing in the doorway uncertain of what to do for several minutes. He had failed in everything he had set out to do. He had wanted to help protect Harry, after all his father had died protecting Harry and he felt it was best that he try to continue in this work. He had mucked up everything by not confiding in Harry. Then there was the matter of Nadia and Atticus had asked him specifically to try and keep her safe, now she was who knew where and facing some kind of danger. Harry caught sight of Phim and snapped at him, “Get out of here. I mean it, clear out. I don’t want to see you and I don’t want to talk to you.” “Harry…” Phim began. “Don’t. Nothing you can say will make any difference.” Harry snapped and behind him Ron shrugged at Phim but his expression was not angry. However, Phim’s temper was rising. Fine then. He had seen it. He had seen what Harry had tried to use to locate Nadia that too had been in the books he had been reading. Certainly it was a powerful tool but he knew Harry had no idea how to activate it at its most potent level. Phim turned and walked briskly away without a further word. He could feel his face flushing with anger but his mind was churning. How was he going to get back in there and grab the red stone? He’d seen the illustrations in the Blood Rites book. That was a blood stone he was sure of it. He had failed with Harry but he might still be able to help Nadia if he could get his hands on that charm. :::::::::::::::::

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