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Chapter 16 : Chapter 15: The Knight
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“Spill it, Harry,” said Ron the moment they returned to the Gryffindor Tower. “No more skirting the subject, no more saying we don’t need to know. She’s back now Harry, and before either of us is going to let you go confront her about this, you’re going to sit down and tell us every detail.”
Hermione watched, slightly surprised, as Ron bore down on Harry. They had both discussed their worry and frustration at his tight lip treatment of the detention he had endured with Professor Amsel two weeks prior. But Ron’s current behavior was far more robust than he had previously been.
Or perhaps it is the fact that both she and Ron had literally been forced to drag Harry up to the Gryffindor Tower to keep him from accosting the Professor right there in the middle of the corridor. Ron didn’t usually take such an opposite position to Harry, but she and Ron seemed to see something in the Professor’s demeanor that Harry had not.
Tonight was not the night to talk to her about his detention. Especially in the mood Harry was in now.
“I already told you, Ron,” Harry nearly spat. “I’m going to talk to her first before anyone else. I have to make sense of it all.”
“Too bad, Harry,” Hermione snapped, before Ron could retort. “Right now Professor Amsel is in the least likely mood to speak to anyone other than perhaps Professor Dumbledore. Or did you completely miss the way she looked as she walked through the corridor straight into the Great Hall?”
A muscle twitched along Harry’s jaw.
Hermione took a step closer to him, tilting her head up just enough so that she could meet his eyes. “We can either do this right here, where everyone else can hear,” she hissed, making a point to jerk her head towards the small group of first and second years just behind them. “Or we can go upstairs to the boys’ dormitories, shut the curtains around your bed and place a silencing charm around it. You choose. But either way, you’re going to stop this brooding and tell Ron and I what in the bloody hell happened two weeks ago that was so bad to make you act like this.”
She watched his eyes shift to the students behind them, over to Ron (where he found only a stony and determined stare) before returning to hers.
His jaw clenched. She could see his muscle twitch again.
“Fine,” he muttered through clenched teach. “Upstairs.”
Hermione’s chest felt oddly tight as she returned to her own room after Harry’s reluctant account of his detention and the long, and often frustrating, discussion afterwards.
Discussion, she scoffed. More like an argument against the world’s most stubborn git. Shrugging off her school cloak, Hermione tossed it over the large chair in the corner of her room and walked over to her large bed, falling backwards across it.
Harry’s detention was horrifying. She couldn’t imagine what it had really been like to elude centaurs before having to fight them. Closing her eyes, Hermione tried to recapture the mental image that had formed in her mind when Harry had first described the scene of his discovering Professor Amsel’s injury. But even with Harry’s unusual attention to detail, she still couldn’t quite picture it the way she felt Harry was trying to make it out to be. Letting out a frustrated sigh, she opened her eyes again and stared up at the ceiling.
Harry had been in a race against death once more. So many variables were involved and yet Harry, once again, put all the blame on himself. Sure, he most certainly should not have attacked the foal, but it was not logical to take on the responsibility of everything that happened.
Sighing once more, Hermione laid her right forearm over her eyes, her thumb absently twisting an invisible ring around her right ring finger. The action was almost therapeutic as the tension in her body began to release, moving like a wave from her ring finger down her arm and through her body.
She clenched and unclenched her fist several times before sitting up and splaying her hands on her lap, her eyes resting on her ring finger which held the invisible ring. It was a pity, almost, that the moment she had placed the ring on her finger it had disappeared; the ring was rather exquisite in a conservative way.
Hermione hadn’t thought much about the ring in the last two weeks, not since she saw Harry come down the stairs the morning he returned from the detention. Her worry over his injuries had completely pushed away any and all thoughts of the anonymous birthday gift.
But when she had returned from talking with both Ron and Ginny about Harry’s tight lipped behavior about the detention, the little white satin box was still sitting atop a small note on her nightstand.
Her throat had tightened as she read the note over and over again. The handwriting, she had found upon comparison was the same as that of the note which had accompanied her necklace. Exactly the same. But how could anyone have known if her parents had wanted her to have whatever was in the box? It was a question Hermione was still trying to figure out.
When she had opened the box her breath had caught in her throat. It was the most intricate and beautiful piece of finely crafted white crystal Hermione had ever seen. Far too exquisite for her parents to buy for her, especially since they knew how Hermione did not usually like to wear jewelry. None of it made sense.
Instinctual like knowledge seemed to take over her mind as she had looked at the ring in the box just as it had when her necklace was returned to her. This was meant for her. She was supposed to have it.
Taking it out of the box, the symbols flashed into her vision for the first time since the punishment for writing down the symbols. The circle of symbols had glowed a deep violet—the same color as that of her dream, the same recurring part when she finds the horse in the path. The symbols changes rapidly in her vision as Hermione closely inspected the small ring, turning it over between her fingers.
The smooth crystal wound itself in a weave over some sort of thin, almost liquid-like platinum inner band. The bright candle light in her room glinted off of the crystal, making it sparkle with an odd sort of energy.
The symbols in her vision brightened considerable before shrinking to the size of the ring in her hand and the light transferred from the symbols to the ring, the intricate weaving of the crystal glowing the brilliant shade of violet.
The image created within the weave had made Hermione gasp.
There, within the patterns of the white crystal, was the perfect outline of a winged horse. The same odd feeling of recognition crossed through her mind as she realized that this was what her dream had been about. This was the horse in her dreams. She wasn’t supposed to find an actual horse—it was the image, the image portrayed in the ring that the dream had told her she would find.
A knock at her door brought Hermione out of her thoughts and she quickly returned the ring to her finger before calling, “Come in.”
It was Ron.
“Hey, Hermione,” he said as he stepped through the door and shut it. “You’ve really got to talk to Ernie about letting me into your room. He got all shirty with me when I came in. Threatened me with detention for being out after hours.”
“I’ll mention it to him,” she said giving him a smile and patting the spot next to her on the bed. “But you are out after curfew,” she said, near teasing, as he sat beside her.
“Well how else am I supposed to get here to talk to you? Harry and I can’t just keep lining up the first year girls along the stairs. Couldn’t you just give us a pass or something?”
“Even if I could,” she answered laughing lightly, “I wouldn’t. Do you really think me so thick that I would even consider giving you two a free pass to roam the castle at night?” She hit him playfully on the shoulder. “You two already do enough damage with Harry’s invisibility cloak. I shudder to think what you two would do with a get-out-of-jail-free card.”
“Ah well,” he shrugged smiling at her. “It was worth a try. Though it might have spared Harry from the impending detention he’s going to earn himself tonight.”
“He left,” he said, not meeting her eyes. “About ten minutes ago while I was brushing my teeth. When I came back he was gone, trunk open—no cloak and no map.”
Hermione scowled at the floor. After all his assurances that he would not go after her tonight… “He said he would wait, Ron. He agreed to wait until tomorrow. Why does he have to be so thick headed all the time and just focus on his own problems than what might be happening to others? You saw how Professor Amsel looked, Ron,” she said, turning her head to look at him. “How could Harry miss everything?”
He shrugged. “That’s how he is, Hermione. After seven years you can’t tell me that you don’t know that. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not really all that surprised. After something like that detention, well, you know how he is.”
“That doesn’t make it right,” she practically snapped. “Talking to her now won’t make things better.”
“I know that Hermione,” he said falling backwards across her bed. “I would have stopped him if I had caught him before he left.”
“Would you?” she asked seriously, looking down at him. “Would you really have stopped him?” He didn’t answer, his eyes looking anywhere but at her face. “That’s what I thought,” she sighted before dropping down beside him.
“Who knows, Hermione,” he began, shifting to his side and propped his head up on his hand, looking down on her. “Maybe it will just take a second detention for it to get through to him.”
“Maybe,” she replied looking up and over at him before smiling slightly. “But when it comes to being thick, I hardly think you are in the prime position to say anything, Ronald Weasley.”
“Okay, okay,” he chuckled, lifting himself up a bit more and splaying his hands up in surrender. “So we’re both thick. But at least I have the sense to stay away from a teacher her looked like she had just spent two in weeks in the deepest recess of hell.”
“Alright,” she said smiling. “I’ll give you that.”
Ron beamed and brought himself back down to lean his head on his palm. Several seconds ensued where neither of them spoke and Hermione suddenly had the distinct feeling of déjà vu.
Ron’s expression had slowly changed: his eyes darkened with determination and his smile fell slightly. It was the same expression he had last August, just before he kissed her for the first time. It reminded Hermione of why she had wanted to be his girlfriend in the first place.
She made no move to stop his decent to her face, his blue eyes flicking down to her lips before meeting her eyes once more. His left hand softly ran up her arm before coming to a rest just below her jaw, his thumb absently caressing her neck just as he brought his lips within millimeters of hers.
She still didn’t protest.
His lips were just as soft and gentle as she had remembered them and his hand slid to the back of her neck, gently pressing her closer. Hermione’s hand slid up his chest, its intent to wrap around his neck, but it stopped the moment her brain caught up with her actions.
Her eyes snapped open and she pushed him away, quickly getting up and away from the bed.
“I’m sorry, Ron,” she cut in, crossing to the other side of the room. “I shouldn’t have let you do that. I shouldn’t have let myself do that,” she corrected before turning around.
“Why not?” he asked, his expression serious. “What’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with us?”
“It doesn’t work because there is no us,” she said firmly. “It didn’t work last year, Ron, and it isn’t going to work now.”
“Why not?” he asked getting up off the bed and walking towards her. “Why can’t it work?”
Hermione looked up at him, her eyes meeting his. Her stomach twisted slightly at the look of hurt and confusion that was etched into his face.
“For the same reason why it didn’t work last year,” she said softly. “We focused too much on our new relationship and allowed our friendship to crumble at every argument.”
“But we could change that,” he protested, stepping closer to her. “I can change that. I won’t let it happen, Hermione, I won’t.”
She took a step away from him, not allowing herself to fall into the same position as she had so many times before.
“You don’t know that, Ron,” she said. “And what about Harry? I hardly need remind you how we pushed and pulled him—practically fought over him to take one of our sides during our many, many fights. No, Ron,” she said with an air of finality. “I’m not going to do that to Harry again. I’m not going to do that to our friendship again. I’m sorry.”
Ron had flinched when she mentioned Harry. Hermione didn’t know if it was from regret or something else, but he had flinched both times before turning away and looking towards the door.
“Okay,” he said finally, his voice soft and with a touch of disappointment before he straightened and look back at her. “I think I can handle just being best friends.” He smiled lightly, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes.
“Good,” she said. “Because I don’t know what I would do without you, Ron.”
He smiled once more and nodded. “I suppose I should get back,” he said, looking back to the door. “You know, make sure Harry comes back an’ all.”
“Of course,” Hermione said, feeling the room turn oddly awkward. “Good night, Ron.”
“Night, Hermione,” he said giving her one last smile.
She slumped into the chair in the corner of her room when the door shut behind him, covering her face with her hands, her elbows sitting on her knees.
“How did this happen?” she groaned into her hands.
The journey from the Gryffindor Tower to the kitchens seemed unusually long. Perhaps it was being under the invisibility cloak, or perhaps it was the fact that he was about to confront Professor Amsel when he knew that she wasn’t in a good mood—either way the trip to a lot longer than usual.
He hated having to retell his detention. He hated the look on Hermione’s face as she told him that it wasn’t his fault. How could she know, she wasn’t there. She didn’t hear the professor tell him how he had caused it all. That if it had not been for him the centaurs would never have come after them. Hermione didn’t understand. No one did.
When Harry finally made it to the portrait he waited a few minutes before taping the grapes to get into the passageway to the South East Tower.
As soon as the portrait closed behind him, Harry took off the cloak and rolled it up before stuffing it under his sweatshirt.
“Lumos.” The area around him lit up and Harry pulled out the Maurader’s Map. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” he whispered tapping the parchment with his lit wand. “Good,” he muttered, spotting the sole dot in the southeast tower marked with Professor Amsel’s name. The coast was clear. He folded up the map and continued down the secret passageway.
Stepping out from the portrait of the Scottish countryside, Harry stopped abruptly, one leg still in the passageway.
Was that a piano?
Music wafted through the hall, the high vaulted ceiling enhancing the notes. A streak of light crossed the floor leading to a door at the very end of the corridor. Resisting the feeling that he should put his invisibility cloak back on, Harry walked quietly down the hall, the music growing louder as he approached the door at the very end of the corridor.
Muddy footsteps marked the path which Professor Amsel had taken down the corridor; there were several splattered dark drops that were scattered along the path as well. When he finally reached the end of the hall, he stood to the side of the door, his back to the wall, and carefully peeked around the door frame.
Professor Amsel was playing the piano.
He stood there, slightly stunned. After returning from some two week escapade looking far worse for wear, she was sitting in an old room playing a piano. Playing it, he decided after a minute of listening, extremely well.
He took his eyes from her and surveyed the room. There was a streak of thick mud along the bottom of the door six inches high and more muddy footprints led towards an old chair in the corner, her blood read traveling cloak tossed over the back of it—the bottom covered in mud from the hem up by at least six inches; he black gloves lay in a heap just underneath the chair. There were shelves filled with dusty books. Thick cobwebs covered the ceiling and stretched down over parts of the shelves. An old worn leather covering was crumpled at the legs of the piano. The bench on which she sat creaked slightly when she shifted her weight to move down the keys.
Harry returned his gaze to the woman playing the piano. There was a long, deep looking fresh cut along her cheek bone, fresh blood still slowly running down her cheek. Her long dark hair had fallen from its usual place in the neat French twist, cascading down her back in knots and twists. Her fingers crossed the keys with ease, though the music did not match the hard expressed on her face.
“Eavesdropping again, are we Harry?”
Ice shot down his spine as the soft, whispered voice of Professor Dumbledore spoke just behind him.
He turned slowly, making sure the Marauder’s Map was tucked safely in the pocket of his pullover before facing the Professor.
Dumbledore motioned with his hand for Harry to follow him, his blue eyes gazing over the half-moon spectacles, focused on the door to the small room.
“The Professor does not take kindly to eavesdroppers,” he said quietly when they were further down the corridor. “Especially while she is playing.”
“Why do I get the feeling that you have done this before, Professor,” said Harry glancing back down the corridor before looking at Dumbledore.
The professor smiled. “Many times, Harry. Though I believe she is unaware of it. It seems you’ve caught me, Harry,” he chuckled softly. “I won’t tell if you don’t,” he said with a wink.
“Your secret’s safe with me, Professor,” said Harry, smiling a bit as well. “When did she learn how to play?” he asked after a minute or two, gazing down the corridor.
Professor Dumbledore smiled. “Her parents taught her,” he said. “Her mother was exquisite at both the oboe and piano. Her father could play the full range of string instruments. They could have been in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, had the times been different. They taught her how to play at a very young age.”
Harry looked at him slightly confused. “Berlin? So she is German, then?” he said, thinking of Katarina and her explanation of the professor’s name.
“Yes,” he said. His smile faltered briefly as something flashed through his face, just behind his eyes.
Harry eyed the Headmaster curiously before continuing. “Then why did she come to Hogwarts?” Hermione’s comment about exchange students—or lack there of—during the summer quickly ran through his mind.
“That,” said the professor seriously, “is something between myself, Professor Amsel and her family. But,” he continued, his eyes darting down the corridor before returning to Harry, “when she was to come, her parents requested that she be allowed access to a piano so she could continue her studies, as the idea of her falling behind was unacceptable. I could not deny them the request, and that room,” he nodded towards the room where the Professor was currently playing, “was open to her. I will admit that I spent many, many nights in this corridor listening to her play.”
The music abruptly stopped, there was a pause, and then a new song began.
“Ah, she’s changed to Verdi,” whispered Dumbledore. “Good.” He added at Harry’s expression, “It means she has exhausted her frustration.”
“As I am sure you saw, Harry, the professor has not been on any vacation the last two weeks. She was most upset when she was forced to leave, and even more so she was gone so long, especially on the heals of a most unpleasant trip in the forest.”
Harry looked away from Dumbledore’s pointed look, his stomach tightening painfully.
“I realize, Harry, that you have come here to speak to Professor Amsel about your detention,” began Dumbledore, “but I must insist that you do not. At least not tonight. She has had two extremely trying weeks and any further confrontation will not do either of you any good.”
“You know what happened, then.”
“As Headmaster it is my duty to know what happens in every student’s detention. As rushed as Professor Amsel had been that morning, I made sure she sat down long enough for me to know exactly what happened.”
Every molecule of moisture evaporated from Harry’s mouth and throat.
“If we are to continue this line of discussion, I suggest we move to more sound proof quarters,” said Dumbledore. The doors to the Defense classroom opened soundlessly behind him, and he motioned for Harry to follow him.
Harry took a seat in the back row. Dumbledore waved his wand and changed the hard back chair two seats from Harry to a chintzy, cushioned chair before sitting down.
Looking over his half moon spectacles, Dumbledore looked at Harry seriously before starting. “I will not be so arrogant as to say that I can answer all of your questions, but I believe I can do a decent enough job to quell your frustrations until you speak to the professor.”
“With all do respect, sir,” Harry began. “While I appreciate your offer, how could you possible answer my questions when you weren’t there? There is only so much Professor Amsel could have told you and words can only convey so much.”
“If that were indeed the case,” Dumbledore replied, leaning back in his chair slightly. “I would not offer you any explanation. As it is, I know what happened not because Professor Amsel told me, but because she showed me in the same manner in which she showed you how to find the trees at the center of the forest.”
Harry blanched slightly.
“Then you know how I nearly killed the both of us because of my stupid attempt to stun the foal,” he spat, his jaw tightening as he remember the look on the young foals face before it galloped off into the woods. Professor Amsel’s shouts of his shear stupidity rang in his ears.
“I know of no such correlation between the professors near death and your, ahem, ill-advised attack on the young offspring of Ronan,” Dumbledore said simply. “What I observed of you was a great strength of mind and character. Though, if I may say, that does not surprise me nearly as much as it did Professor Amsel.”
“Great strength of mind and character?” Harry repeated acidly. “If it hadn’t been for me the centaurs wouldn’t have come after us! If I hadn’t attacked that stupid foal we never would have had to fight the centaurs and she never would have gotten poisoned. It’s my fault—”
“You don’t know that, Harry,” Dumbledore cut in. “You are speculating without sufficient facts or background to make your claim. You do not know that none of the events that happened that night would not have happened anyway.”
“But Professor Amsel told m—”
“I know perfectly well what she told you, Harry,” said Dumbledore, cutting him off once more. “And I also know that we all say things in anger that we do not mean.” He gave Harry a pointed look. “Do not be so arrogant as to place the responsibility of all events on your shoulders, Harry. Nothing in this world works so simply. One person is never the direct cause of all things. Professor Amsel herself made great emphasis to her own guilt of losing her temper and gravely insulting Magorian.”
“No ‘buts’, Harry,” said Dumbledore sternly. “You may or may not have caused the Centaurs to find you earlier than they would have, but you had nothing to do with Professor Amsel’s poisoning.”
Harry looked away as he tried to put down his rising temper. How could Dumbledore not see how his one action had caused the Centaurs to be mad enough to come after them? It was obvious.
“You may or may not be aware of this,” continued Dumbledore. “But Professor Amsel had been in and out of the Forbidden Forest five times before taking you with her that night. She had been caught by the centaurs each time. There is very little that happens in the forest that the centaurs are not aware of, and two humans, no matter how well concealed or quiet, traversing through the forest could not be more obvious to any creature native to the forest.”
Harry looked back at Dumbledore.
“I am inclined to believe the centaurs would have confronted you anyway, and had you not been there, Professor Amsel would be dead instead of playing this marvelous concerto.”
Harry blinked several times, unsure of what to say or even if he should say anything.
“Not only did the centaurs not know you were there with any certainty, you took them by surprise and off balance, splitting the odds in half and then saved her life when the poison had fully taken over her motor functions. Professor Amsel did not hesitate to say that had she been alone she would have died.”
“But I attacked the foal,” Harry protested. “Bane was furious and Ronan—”
“Bane has no love of humans anyway,” said Dumbledore with a dismissive wave of his hand. “He does not need an excuse to attack us. As for Ronan…” he paused and leaned over closer to Harry. “Ronan acted as any father would act when their child has been attacked. But that does not, by any means, place the responsibility of all the unfortunate events on your shoulders. You should not have attacked Kali,” he continued, giving Harry a piercing gaze over his spectacles. “But you did not cause every misfortune.”
The music stopped and Dumbledore looked out to the corridor. Harry could hear the faint sound of rustling. Professor Amsel must be putting the cover on the piano.
“It seems that the professor is done for the night,” said Dumbledore, looking back towards Harry. “I suggest you head back to the Gryffindor Tower before she returns to her office, for I can assure you that the consequences of eavesdropping on her while playing the piano far outstripped those of eavesdropping on a mere conversation.”
Harry nodded slightly before standing.
“And Harry,” said Dumbledore as he stood as well. “Think about what I have told you before you next speak to Professor Amsel outside of class.”
He hesitated for a moment and then nodded.
“Good, now, off you go,” said Dumbledore, patting him on the shoulder and pressing him slightly towards the door.
Hermione had not slept well that night. What had happened between she and Ron disturbed her greatly. The reasons for why she had broken up with Ron at the end of the last term were ingrained in her mind and she was very firmly set against ever entering into a relationship with him again. But this resolve only confused her more as she had no idea why she had allowed herself to kiss him. Normally she would have gone to breakfast on her own after such a situation had passed, but Hermione needed to know what had happened between Harry and Professor Amsel.
So she sat on the couch in the Common Room the next, waiting for Ron and Harry to come down from the dormitories. Most of the other seventh years had already gone to breakfast, and Hermione wondered how late Harry and Ron had stayed up to make them so late.
Especially Ron, as he was never late for breakfast. Or any occasion when food was served.
“At least you didn’t get detention, mate,” came Ron’s voice from the stairs. The two boys emerged from the stairwell, Harry looking a bit exhausted.
“Yes, thank goodness for that,” said Hermione standing up and meeting them in the middle of the room. “So what happened?” she asked Harry flatly.
“Nothing,” he said. “Really, Hermione,” he insisted when she crossed her arms and raised a doubtful eyebrow. “I didn’t even talk to her. I ran into Professor Dumbledore--”
“Oh come on, Harry, just tell her on the way,” said Ron. “I’m starving and we’re late for breakfast.”
Hermione smiled lightly at him, but it fell when Ron didn’t meet her eyes and just brushed passed her. Harry looked at her curiously, his eyes flicking between she and Ron before continuing his story as they both climbed out the portrait hole.
“Do you believe him?” asked Hermione as the came to the bottom of the grand staircase.
Harry shrugged. “Yes,” he said reluctantly. “Though it doesn’t make me feel any better about it, he’s right. I suppose it isn’t all my fault.”
“It isn’t all your fault,” said Ron over his shoulder as they rounded the corner. “Like Dumbledore said, Amsel had been in the forest five times before you guys went in. The centaurs were going to find you anyway. They were just a bit madder because you attacked the foal.”
“Thanks, Ron,” said Harry glaring at the back of Ron’s head. “That makes me feel loads better.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and was about to tell them both to just shut up when the entered the Great Hall.
An unusually quiet Great Hall.
The three of them exchanged uneasy glances before they walked down the long tables towards their seats. Whispers and the rustling of parchment intermixed with the clatter of tableware were the only sounds in the whole hall.
Harry looked up to the Staff Table where Professor Dumbledore and McGonagall were leaning close to each other and looked to be discussing something extremely serious as they pointed to something lying on the table between the two of them. Both of their plates of food were set aside, forgotten, as they spoke.
Dumbledore looked up from McGonagall, down the table towards Snape, who stood immediately and walked over to the two of them.
Professor Amsel, Harry noticed, was not at the Staff Table.
“Oi, you three!” called Seamus from down the Gryffindor table. “You’re late.”
Harry, Ron and Hermione took the three open spots that Ginny, Seamus and Neville had saved for them.
“What’s going on?” asked Ron, already starting to pile up the eggs on his plate.
“See for yourself, Ron,” said Ginny, and she tossed a copy of the Daily Prophet across the table at him. “Though you just might want to eat first before you read it.”
Her face look pale and it was only after she had tossed the paper that Harry noticed that her hands were trembling.
“Ginny? What’s going on—”
“Bloody hell.” Ron’s face had gone completely white, his eggs forgotten, the Prophet clutched between his own barely shaking hands. “He’s back?” he asked, looking up at Ginny. “For real?”
Ginny only nodded, her face blanching more as she swallowed. Seamus gently squeezed her hand.
“What is it? Who’s back?” asked Hermione, leaning over the table to try and glimpse the title of the front page article. Ron swallowed before handing it over to her. Harry leaned over near her and started to read the article after Ron said, “Only the most notorious murderer in Europe,” in a very choked voice.
Infamous Assassin Spotted in Normandy
The ministry announced this morning that Georg Walden, more commonly known as The Knight, was spotted last Saturday afternoon outside of Vire. His intended destination is unknown, as is the reason for his sudden appearance after supposedly taking refuge in the barren mountains of Pakistan for the last sixteen years. No reports of disappearances or deaths have been sited in the local area. French Ministry officials are working with the Muggle French Prime Minister to track any Muggle reports of murders as Walden is most known for his use of Muggle tactics to carry out his kills, such as his last confirmed kill over sixteen and a half years ago seven miles outside of Kent.
One hundred and eighty-three murders throughout Europe have been directly linked to Walden (forty-five of which occurred in Great Britain) since the end of the Grindewald Wars.
A confirmed Knight of Welleprig (Death Eater of Grindewald), Ministry Officials say that he hold loyalty to know one but his contractors, and that only lasts until the assassination is carried out.
Aside from the horrifying and bloody manner in which Walden murders his victims, his’s calling card is a black knight from a Muggle chess set, placed in the hands of his victims.
Further details and history on pages 3,5,8,10-13.
Harry looked up from the paper and across the table to Ron. “One hundred and eighty- three murders?” he said through a tight throat. “How could he get away with them?”
“He’s an assassin, Harry, they aren’t supposed to get caught. No one has been able to catch him,” said Ron, who was slowly buttering his toast. It looked as though Ron was still debating on whether or not he should eat. “My dad told me of the times when he was killing people all the time. He uses Muggle weapons modified by magic. There’s no warning. People would just walk into rooms or offices and find someone dead, a black knight stuffed into their hand.”
“Do you think he’s here to work for Voldemort?” asked Hermione, who turned to page three (The Knight’s Last Kill).
“It’s as good a guess as any,” answered Dean, who sat next to Ron.
“I shudder to think what kind of job You-Know-Who could have offered him to get him out of his self imposed exile,” said Seamus. “Page eleven talks about it,” he told Hermione, whose eyes were glued to the paper. “The guy’s not just any ordinary murderer, he’s a mercenary. He kills for money. No one has been able to tie him to any specific cause or person since Grindewald was defeated.”
“Some people think that Grindewald actually paid Walden to join his ranks during the war,” said Neville from the other side of Hermione. “I remember hearing my Gran talking to my uncle about it a few years ago with You-Know-Who came back. The ministry believed that Walden was working for You-Know-Who the first time. I’d be surprised if the Ministry didn’t associate this guy with You-Know-Who.”
The noise level in the Great Hall went up a few notches and Harry automatically looked up to the Staff Table. Professor Amsel had just arrived. There were a few muffled cheers and whispered “finally”s before it quickly died down and the rest of the students returned their attention to the paper.
But Harry didn’t take his eyes off of the Staff Table.
Snape had just shot Professor Dumbledore an odd look and the Headmaster turned around just as Professor Amsel sat down in the empty chair to his left. There was a quick exchange of words, Professor Amsel gave Dumbledore an odd look, narrowed her eyes, turned around to where Professor Vector sat and ripped the paper from the other Professor’s hands.
Every bit of color drained from the professor’s face and her eyes widened.
Harry nudged Hermione in the shoulder and jerked his head towards the Staff Table when she finally tore her eyes from the Prophet.
“Harry what is it? I’m trying to—oh!”
Professor Amsel had yet to tear her eyes from the front page article and probably hadn’t even noticed Professor Vector scowl at her for ripping the paper from her hands. Dumbledore was speaking to her as Snape and McGonagall exchanged curious looks.
Amsel’s head suddenly snapped to the side to face Dumbledore and she spoke very quickly to him about something before standing and giving Snape an extremely pointed glare.
“What I wouldn’t give to hear that conversation,” said Neville, who was also staring up at the Staff Table.
Dumbledore grabbed her arm and said something else to her before letting go. Amsel gave him another odd look before turning her narrowed eyes on Snape. His face was expressionless but a few words were exchanged and Amsel brushed passed him and into the door behind the Staff Table.
“You don’t think she knows anything about this guy, do you?” asked Ginny.
“I wouldn’t put it passed her,” said Dean. “The way she reacted you’d think she knew him personally.”
Hermione folded up the Daily Prophet and stuffed it into her bag, her own face slightly pale. She’d read the entire article on this Walden man and the whole deal about his last confirmed murder did not sit well with her at all.
“Hey, Hermione,” whispered Neville. “You alright?”
“Hm? Oh, yeah, I’m fine,” she said absently, her mind still on the horrifying details. “Look, we’ve got to leave if we’re going to make it to Defense today,” she said. “And I don’t think anyone should risk being late this morning. Not after that little scene,” she said, flicking her eyes to the Staff Table.
She stood up without another word and walked down the table and left the Great Hall, leaving Ron and Harry staring after her.
“We don’t have Defense today,” said Ron, as he watched her disappear. “It’s Wednesday. We don’t have Defense class on Wednesday.”
“No, Ron, we don’t,” said Harry before turning back to his still empty plate. “Did something happen last night?” he asked after a moment, recalling the odd way Ron had acted around Hermione in the Common Room.
Harry eyed him carefully as Ron not only didn’t meet his gaze, but had begun to pile on a lake of ketchup on his eggs and potatoes.
Ron hated ketchup on eggs.
But while Ron might have been acting strangely because of the previous night with Hermione, Hermione was acting odd for an entirely different reason. The ring she had received on her birthday had turned extremely cold on her finger when she had read the article and a fleeting, fuzzy memory cropped up in her mind that she hadn’t remembered in a very, very long time.
Walden’s last kill was just three miles from her house over sixteen years ago. Her parents had talked about the murder just as everyone else did. It was the most gruesome and baffling murder to ever take place so close to their quiet neighborhood.
It was also the same night that her parents brought home a strange woman, wounded and distraught who made things in their house explode at her cries. Hermione may have only been just over two years old, but the image of a soaking wet, bloody, crying woman dressed in odd clothing just doesn’t fade away.
Post Note: I'm not sure I got the name of Grindewald's followers correct and I couldn't find it on the Lexicon. *sighs* Next chapter WILL have Harry's discussion with Amsel, Hogsmeade weekend, the return of Katarina and Malfoy. Thanks for reading and I look forward to reading what you think of the chapter. *Eli*
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