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Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Draco looked out the window of the coach. The grey sky began dropping light snowflakes against the frosted window. Perfect, he thought. Now we’ll be snowed in nearly all vacation, I’ll never get out of the manor. Mother will want to do nothing but sit in her room and father will be scouring the library for some hidden text on…whatever hidden texts are on. He sighed heavily, his warm forehead pressed against the window. Slowly he stroked his dæmon, Daxel.
“Come, Draco, don’t look so sullen. Aunt Bella will be arriving tommorrow,” his father said. “And then we’ll have a merry old time,” he added under his breath. His snake dæmon, Veira, twisted herself around his hand and hissed. It was the middle of November and Hogwarts had ended for the winter holidays. Of course, Draco knew they would do what they always did. Two weeks at the Manor Malfoy, in the old country, and then two weeks in Sweden, or Norway, or, if his mother really pushed, somewhere warm and tropical. The final week would then be spent at the Manor Malfoy in London as his father prepared for work at the ministry, his mother lounged about all day in the indoor gardens, and he began studying for his exit level O.W.L.S., same old routine.
“Father, I was wondering-“
“No. Draco you are to stay indoors and in sight of either your mother or myself at all times, do you hear me? After last year I want no risks taken so that you may please yourself with idle whims,” his father cut him off quickly.
“Father, you don’t even know what I was about to say. For all you know I might have asked to…learn an instrument,” Draco protested, his head rising from the window. Daxel quickly changed from his form as a weasel to an otter, and rubbed his head encouragingly against Draco’s cheek.
Lucius looked at his son with open disappointment. “You may have asked that, yes. But you weren’t going to so don’t argue the point. You are not to apparate off-grounds, you are not to use the floo powder, and you are not to fly off-grounds. Nor will you take Attis into town, or ask Verne to drive you, are we understood?” As if to emphasize the serious mood, Veira hissed menacingly.
“Yes, father,” Draco sighed, his head returning to the window as Daxel became a housecat and curled up on Draco’s lap. A slow, melodious tune began to unfold in Draco’s mind; soft and flutey.
This was going to be a long vacation.
Harry lifted his head. What is that noise, he thought to himself. He sat up in his bed, his eyes adjusting to the dark.
“Is anyone there,” he asked tentatively. No one replied. He asked again. Silence. He lowered his head and tried to fall back to sleep, but the sounds began again. A soft tune played, like a wood flute in the forest, the kind the centaurs play. Except this time it was different, it felt different, yet familiar. The haunting melody tuged at his heart, pulling him out of bed. Grabbing his glasses and wand off his side-table, he put his nightrobe on and left the room, his bare feet making no noise on the thick carpeting.
“Harry, wait for me,” Hedwig said, leaping from the bed and thumping loudly onto the floor.
“Quiet, Hedwig. We don’t want to wake anyone,” Harry scolded.
“Sorry,” he responded, shifting from a dog to a stoat.
As they neared the door the tune shifted, becoming more urgent. Harry picked up his pace.
Down the stairs leading to the Gryffindor seventh year boy’s dormitory, Harry heard a voice.
“Hello? Is anyone there?”
“Hermione, is that you?”
“Harry? Goddess, what are you doing out here?”
Harry adjusted his glasses, squinting in the darkness. There, Hermione was curled up in one of the large chairs by the hearth and it’s small ember-fire, her dæmon, Crookshanks, curled up in her lap as a cat. He walked up to her and sat in the chair across from her, grateful for the warmth of the embers and Hedwig lept into his lap, becoming a cat as well.
“What are you doing down here, Hermione?” Harry asked as he tucked his feet beneath him. Her hair was messy, her nightrobe fell off one shoulder and she looked pale and tired in the amber glow.
She looked at his face, studying him for a moment. “I could ask you the same thing, though, if you’re here for the same reason as I, we both already know.”
“The song,” Harry guessed, combing a hand through his bed-ruffled hair.
Crookshanks lifted his head. “You heard it too?”
“Yes, I did. I think it might be coming from the forest.”
“The forest,” Hermione murmured, looking at the commonroom windows. The
Forbidden Forest loomed at the edge of the grounds, dark and mysterious. They had wandered the forest many times and still they knew very little of what it hid from the rest of the world.
Harry, can you hear me? A voice in Harry’s head questioned. Hermione looked deep into the embers, clearly she didn’t hear the voice. Harry took his wand from his pocket and lifted the tip to his temple. Hermione looked up at the movement and reached for her own wand.
“Ron’s here?” She asked.
“Yeah, hold on,” Harry replied. Closing his eyes he concentrated. “Mentalis vocalus,” he said. He opened his eyes and watched Hermione repeat him. He took a breath.
Ron are you there? Link with Hermione too, Harry thought, mouthing the words silently.
Okay, Hermione? Can you hear me?
Yes, Ron, Harry saw her mouth move soundlessly, the words echoing in his head. How is Pig?
Fine enough. Still a little shaken from before vacation, but then again, so am I. How are you two, and Crookshanks and Hedwig?
Oh, Crookshanks if fine, as am I. Harry and I both keep hearing this stange tune.
Like a flute?
That’s the one, you hear it also?
Yeah, weird ain’t it?
Look here, I was doing some research and I haven’t found anything.
So, you told us you’re doing research, only to tell us you haven’t found anything? Hermione, are you okay?
Ron, that’s not what I mean. I mean I haven’t found anything. Not a single reference to anything like this. No unusual music playing in people’s heads, no midnight urges to go somewhere abnormal…nothing.
So, what are you telling us…that we’re…what, I don’t even know, Hermione. I have no idea.
I’m telling you that this… “mind-music” or, whatever you want to call it, there’s no record of it ever happening…ever.
Hermione, I don’t think that if I heard music in my head I would tell anyone either. I don’t really want to end up in Mungo’s at eighteen.
Oh, do be realistic Ron, witches and wizards hear things all the time, Harry heard the basilisk, you heard Gryffindor’s sword tell you how to destroy the horcrux, our dæmons can speak with us so that no one else can hear. Hearing music is not that big of a deal, but there is still no mention of it happening like this at all.
Happening like this? Like what?
Where we can all hear the same thing. Exactly the same thing.
Well, how do you know we hear the same thing, Hermione? What if we are just hearing a flute playing different music for each of us?
Can you hear it right now?
What does it sound like? Hum it a little.
Ron hummed along with it in his head, feeling like a fool. That is, until Hermione joined in with him. It was the same. To add to that, when Harry began humming as well, they knew that it had to be the same music, from the same source.
Well, that settles that, then. But I still can’t figure out what it means or why we are the only ones to hear it. I suppose I should speak to Professor McGonagall about it.
Hermione, do you know if we are the only ones who can hear it? What if it’s…
What if it’s Dumbledore. Calling to us. Maybe he’s found a way to…I don’t know, survive death. What if all of the D.A. can hear it?
I don’t know Harry, but we have to wait until everyone is back from vacation.
What, you can’t just write them?
No, Ron, I can’t “just write them”, this is much to important not to speak directly with them. And besides, we don’t know what this is yet, we don’t want the letter to accidentally reach…someone else by mistake.
Oh, right. Well could you-
No, I can’t link to them, I don’t know their aura that well. And besides, I don’t want to discuss this that way. It needs to be face to face.
Hermione’s right. This needs to be done the right way, but as soon as possible. We have to wait until the holidays end, but not a day longer. Can we all do that?
Of course, Harry.
I won’t do anything stupid, if that’s what you mean.
Okay then. We have about twelve days to figure this out. Ron, not a word to any of the others, not even your dad. Hermione, do some more research, I’ll help as much as I can, but my first priority is to speak with McGonagall. Settled?
Yes, of course.
Fine with me.
All right then. I’m going back to bed, it won’t help at all to be tired tommorrow. Good night, Hermione, Ron.
Good night, Harry.
“Mentalis vocis silentium,” Harry whispered, touching his wand to his temple again.
Slowly he stood, gasping a little as his bare feet made contact with the cold stone floor of the common room.
“Ready, Harry?” Hedwig asked, padding silently beside him.
“For sleep? Yes. For tommorrow? I hope so,” he replied, climbing the stairs to the boys dormitory. Harry shivered a little as he opened the door, and, closing it, hurried to his nice, warm bed. Hedwig lept up beside him.
“Good night, Harry,” he whispered, licking Harry's forehead once, but he was already sound asleep.
Clue Four: Good job. The owl has fallen asleep. Now you can read the note it held. Or can you...?
HINT: This puzzle is a cryptogram. Solve it first, but to move forward, you'll need the sum of the parts.