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Chapter 8: The Haunted Corridor
Chapter 8 – the Haunted Corridor
Harry woke up the next morning, still not entirely sure of his surroundings. Once he registered that he was in the Hospital wing he immediately looked around for Firenze, but the centaur was no where to be seen. Ron was still unconscious in the bed next to Harry though, and Ginny, Neville, and Luna were all walking through the hospital wing doors. He shifted slightly, leaning his back against the headboard. Hermione was still curled up on his lap, purring as she slept.
“Good morning, Harry!” Neville said, planting himself on the empty bed to the other side of Harry.
Ginny sat down next to Neville, and smiled, “Good to see you’re alright.”
Harry turned to his friends and smiled. His smile dropped quickly as he remembered what the Centaur had told him the night before.
“What’s wrong, Harry?” Luna said from her perch on the corner of Ron’s bed.
Harry let the silence hang for a moment more as he formulated what to say. He wasn’t yet sure if he was to terms with this dilemma, so he just answered with a, “Nothing; just tired.”
“Thank goodness it’s a Saturday, eh?” Ginny laughed, “And no training either – Lovely!”
Harry cracked a smile. He knew it wasn’t a real smile, but the thought of not getting his head beaten into the ground did give him a small sense of ease.
After everyone had left, Ron began to stir. Hermione’s cat eyes instantly shot open, not leaving the stirring redhead. Harry instinctively grabbed his wand off of the bedside table. He hid it carefully under his bed sheets and pointed it at his friend. He hated having to protect himself from his best friend, but he didn’t know if he was still possessed or not.
“R-Ron?” Harry stuttered.
“Five more minutes…” he mumbled in reply, cracking his eyes open. He let out a moan and then sat up in bed, “why are we in here?”
Harry wasn’t sure if Ron was prepared to hear what he had done the night before, so he just smiled and pointed to the box of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans at the end of Ron’s table, “Luna brought those for you.”
Ron instantly brightened up and grabbed the box, instantly throwing three into his mouth. “Lovely,” he mumbled chewing delightfully at his combination, “a banana split.”
Harry rolled his eyes and smiled, releasing the grip he had on his wand. Ron was back to normal. Well, as normal as Ron ever had been.
Pomfery shuffled back into the wing and saw that Ron was conscious again. She immediately ran to his side and made him drink a pasty concoction before turning to Harry. She shooed the Hermione-cat aside and began to remove his bandages and spread more salve on his back and chest. He was covered in purple rings of bruises all up and down his chest, “Mr. Potter, I cannot stop this extreme of bruising. However, your ribs are all mended now, so you and Mr. Weasley here may leave at noon today, or after if you find yourselves not quite ready for the world again,” she sighed.
Harry looked over to Ron, whose jaw was hanging down to his knees, “W-what happened?” he asked, looking mortified at the purple and yellow rings down Harry’s torso.
Pomfery turned to Ron and briskly and briskly and rather bluntly answered, “Mr. Weasley, you were possessed and attacked Ms Weasley, Mr. Longbottom, and Mr. Potter here. I believe Mr. Potter got the brunt of the attack though. The other two are completely unscathed.”
Ron’s jaw dropped even lower to the ground. “I did WHAT?”
Pomfery shuffled out of the hospital wing quickly, ignoring Ron’s comment. So in turn, Ron turned his confused gaze to Harry, “What happened?!”
Harry was afraid to tell his friend what he had done. Harry knew him too well, so he resorted to reiterating what Pomfery said, “Don’t worry about it, Ron. Ginny and Neville are fine, and I’m recovering quickly.” Ron finally closed his gaping mouth and slumped back down into his bed, a confused and frustrated look on his face. He grabbed the box of Bertie Botts Beans and began to pop them one by one into his mouth, thinking. Every once and a while he would come across a vomit or sardine favored one and would make a funny face before swallowing it and putting another in its place.
“Hey Ron,” Harry interrupted the silence a few minutes later, “Up for a game of chess?”
Ron’s dismal look instantly gave way to a crooked grin at the mention of his favorite game. Forgetting the confusion of what had happened the day before, the two friends played chess with the board and pieces that Ginny had brought down earlier. Ron quickly won the first game, and challenged Harry to a rematch, claiming that he should at least “try to regain his honor”.
The morning passed with three more wins for Ron and one for Harry, which had just been a giveaway, as Ron didn’t even use his queen or either castles the entire game. The school clock chimed noon and both boys got dressed and made their way to the Great Hall after a quick scolding from Pomfery.
Harry, carrying the Hermione-cat in his arms, unconsciously looked around for Dumbledore, but his hopes sank when he saw the empty headmaster’s chair next to McGonnagal, and the black Hermione-cat unexpectedly leaped out of his arms and ran off in the other direction. Harry shrugged and sat down next to Neville, who was talking in hushed tones to Ginny and Luna across from him. “Hi Harry!” Neville said as he sat down next to him. Ron settled himself on the other side of Harry and helped himself to the sandwiches in front of him.
Ginny and Neville exchanged nervous glances, which were calmed by Harry nodding his head and mouthing the words, “he’s normal” to them both.
“Hey,” Ron said between oversized bites, “where’s Hermione?”
Harry, Ginny, and Neville looked to each other, not knowing what to respond. The three of them knew what had happened the day before and had seen the Hermione-cat dart off to the other side of the Great Hall.
“She’s probably working in the Library, Ronald,” Luna replied offhandedly, “She better watch out for the Marwhooes in there. They tend to bite off your noses if you get too close to the books,”
Ginny let out an audible sigh, and Ron looked at her, “what’s up with you?”
“Nothin’,” she responded quickly, “just glad you guys are back.” Ron seemed to accept that answer and began divulging himself in the next sandwich he came across.
Harry felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Fadus. The professor’s eyes met Harry’s, telling Harry to come with him, so Harry quietly excused himself. He followed his professor out of the Great Hall and down the stairs to the dungeon to Fadus’ office. Once they were both inside, Fadus gestured to the chair across from his desk before sitting on his desk itself.
“Harry,” Fadus said, “is there anything you wish to talk to me about?”
Harry began to shake his head before catching himself and quietly replying, “What happened to Ron and Hermione?”
Fadus sighed as if he knew that this was coming. “Potter… for Weasley, we are not sure. Obvious answers lead to Voldemort or one of his Death Eater buddies, but as to how they got through our security, I don’t know.”
“I’ve already told you, Potter. It’s her choice, and she will choose when she wants to change back.”
A soft knock came from the door. Three knocks, then silence. “Odd, no one ever knocks,” Fadus said under his breath, “Harry do you mind getting that?” he asked, and Harry obediently went and opened the latch on the old cedar door.
A black cat streaked through the room, and Harry turned to recognize it as the Hermione-cat. He looked back out into the corridor to see nothing, and closed it carefully. “Strange, Profes-”
“Fadus” he interrupted.
“Fadus,” Harry recovered, “There was nothing there. Except for Hermione, but she couldn’t have knocked.” He sat back down and the Hermione-cat immediately jumped into his lap.
“Probably Peeves. Doesn’t sound like something he would do though,” Fadus thought aloud, before seeing the cat in Harry’s lap and smiling. “She’s got good instincts,” he commented, laughing to himself.
“Of course she does: It’s Hermione.”
“Good point,” Fadus chuckled before focusing again, “But as to the second part of your question, do you mean as to when Hermione will change back? Because that’s her choice entirely.”
Hermione purred, and Harry’s eyes shot open, a sudden thought entering his head, “She’ll be… clothed, right? When she changes back?”
Fadus began laughing hysterically, his eyes squinting closed and the scar that stretched across his face spread even farther as his mouth widened in a whole-hearted smile. Harry couldn’t help chuckling himself at his professor’s reaction. “Yeah,” Fadus sputtered out through his laughter, “she should have some form of clothing, yes,” he slowly began to regain himself, “This magical ability doesn’t appear that often so we can’t be entirely sure, but she will probably have some sort of clothing – anything from what she transformed in to, well, nothing, but that has never happened before.”
The mood in the room was quite a bit lighter, and Harry and Fadus started telling stories – Harry about his classes and school, and Fadus about his Auror training. “Um, Fadus? Where did the scar come from?” Harry finally found the courage to ask.
Fadus opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by a soft knock at the door. Three knocks.
The student and teacher exchanged nervous glances as both of them grabbed their wands and pointed them at the door. There was a moment of silence, then a crash somewhere outside of something hitting the hard stone floor. Then three more knocks and more silence. “Yes?” Fadus called, slowly moving towards the door. The Hermione-cat jumped to the ground in front of Harry, ears pressed back and claws barred.
Firenze’s words echoed through Harry’s head in those moments of silence. Five moons…
Suddenly, an intricate series of knocks, this time strong and fast, resonated through the room, too unlike the soft haunting tapping to be the same.
The door creaked open under Fadus’ touch. An order member, dressed in all black and wearing a phoenix insignia across his chest, entered the room, and Fadus noticeably relaxed, lowering his wand, and gestured for Harry to lower his as well. Hermione backed up against Harry’s legs, her ears still completely back against her head.
“Xavier,” the man said, glancing nervously at Harry and the cat, then back to Fadus, “We’ve found the Unicorns, sir” –Fadus cringed at the formality-“Please, we need you and Zephan both for this.”
Fadus turned to Harry, “We will have to continue this conversation later.” He grabbed a black cloak and placed his wand back in the holster on his side, and stepped toward the door before stopping and turning around, “Harry, take Granger and go straight back upstairs. Find Longbottom, Mr. and Ms. Weasley, and Ms Lovegood too, and head somewhere where there are adults,” The castle clock chimed 4 o’clock, “And Potter, keep yourself safe” he turned back out the door before adding, “And armed. Ms Granger,” he said, addressing the Hermione-cat, whose ears pricked up as she looked at her professor, “Now would be a good time to keep him close.”
Fadus and the mystery Order member ran out of the room, and Harry could hear their quick footsteps fade down the hallway. He stood for a moment in silence before picking Hermione off of the ground and running out, subconsciously finding the quickest path back up to the Entrance Hall, where he knew he would have the best chance of finding his friends.
A/N: more coming soon. Sorry this one took so long to get up... I"m cranking out chapter 9 tonight, so it should be up soonish