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Chapter 7: Conspiracy
Harry searched longer than he ought for a potions book with Oratio in it because it seemed to be indexed under I for Inspiratori not O. When he found a suitable description of the potion he glanced around for a table at which to sit. It seemed surprisingly crowded since half an hour ago when he first came in. He went towards the only chair he could see that was free nearby but Malcolm Jennings, a Hufflepuff youth, was also heading for it, his eyes on the person sitting to the side of the vacant seat.
The boy suddenly stumbled and there was a puzzled look on his face as Harry dived in first, selfishly rejoicing at the visible disappointment of the Hufflepuff youth.
After he had sat down, he realized who was already sitting next to him. Her head was turned away slightly but he knew that long dark hair. Laura Worthing was absorbed in a book, occasionally pausing to add to her notes. There was a glassy sound as she dipped into her inkpot and then the scratching of her quill continued.
Harry wondered whether to speak. Several minutes passed by. Laura looked up at the ceiling as if giving something deep thought.
"Anything interesting?" asked Harry.
"Oh, hello - no it's just History." she replied, "You?"
"Potions - my curse. Sorry ... there was nowhere else to sit. I wasn't ..." he mumbled suddenly realizing there were more free spaces than he had thought. Even Jennings was seated nearby and was still looking annoyed at Harry. "Damn! It looks like I sat next to her on purpose." Harry thought to himself.
"Any new revelations?" asked Harry, not really wanted to lead the conversation in this direction but grabbing at any opportunity to misdirect from his embarrassment.
"Well, I didn't want to mention it until I was sure."
"You mean there is? Does it concern me?" asked Harry, in a genuinely surprised voice.
"Probably. I've been noticing Godber and Brisking sneaking out, sometimes one, sometimes, the other, mostly both."
"Out? Out where?"
"Out to Hogsmeade I'm sure. Every Saturday evening, very late, almost midnight. They use disillusionment I think but I can sense enough, hear enough to feel sure of where they go."
"But that's not all." interrupted Laura. "they also go down into the lower basement. They work for hours down there."
"Work? What kind of work? How do you know they work?" asked Harry.
"I don't know exactly. It's a feeling, an impression. I told you my ... extra perceptions are very weak, very indistinct. Somehow I just feel those two are toiling away. Please don't say anything to anyone. It is so embarrassing especially when my impressions turn out to be untrue. It sounds completely unconvincing I know. Promise me you won't."
"Don't worry Laura, I won't tell anyone." He had spoken her name for the first time and he knew it. It hung in his mind like a special kind of magic of its own; the sound of his voice saying it in his head.
"I'm worried for you Harry. I'm sorry I've not spoken before but people generally think me foolish. I wanted to find out something positive. I've been trying to get out to Hogsmeade myself, to follow them. But I'm not magically skilled enough.
"Perhaps... perhaps I might try."
"No Harry! No!" Laura's raised voice caused a frown from Miss Pince. Laura continued more quietly. "Please don't. It's not safe. You are so vulnerable."
"I can look after myself." Harry asserted himself. He pulled himself more upright in his seat. "Saturday nights you say? Leave this to me. Don't worry about it. I'll take great care."
Laura tilted her head slightly and admiration shone in her eyes. Harry thought maybe he could just fly without a broomstick and bounce off the moon into Hogsmeade any time he wanted. Fly with only the support of the look that Laura was giving him right now.