Chapter 1 : Chapter One- The Mysterious Book
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Harry had been so deep in thought that he had not seen Professor Snape approach his cauldron and he jumped at the sound of his voice. His ears went red as he noticed the giggles from the rest of the class, most of which, of course, came from those in Slytherin.
“Perhaps you think your fame will make up for your lack of attention in my class, Potter? Perhaps you think your shoddy work will be overlooked,” he continued, peering down into the mirky, grey liquid that was supposed to be the day’s lesson. His lip curled at the site of Harry’s sad attempt at a Skarmy Potion that was supposed to be glowing red and was supposed to produce acid filled gas bubbles. “Which part of the numbered directions clearly written on the front board can you not read?”
Harry glanced over at Ron who seemed to be suddenly taking too much interest in his own cauldron, head bent low, stirring furiously.
Snape swept his wand over Harry’s cauldron and the contents vanished immediately. “Ten points from Gryffindor,” He said with a sneer, turning quickly and heading to his desk, his black robes rippling behind him.
Harry sat down heavily on his chair and noticed Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle snickering and pointing at him.
“Harry, if you don’t pay attention in Snape’s class you’ll never learn the potions.” Hermione scolded, as she, Ron, and Harry headed toward Gryffindor tower.
“We don’t need to pay attention, Hermione,” Ron said, elbowing Harry. “That’s what we have you for.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and shifted her bag to the other shoulder. “What were you daydreaming about, anyway?”
“You’re so nosy, Hermione,” Ron said, “Don’t you know a man’s thoughts are his own?”
“I was thinking that I might have a solution to our little problem,” Harry said, ignoring Ron’s comment and glancing around to see if anyone could hear him. “Ron, remember that book we saw on Snape’s desk last week? A Curse a Day by Adeline Skrewtberry?”
“Yeah, sure. So?” Ron said, shrugging.
“Come over here,” Harry said, pulling them both to the side of the corridor between a suit of armor and a large stone pillar. The suit of armor sneezed a large puff of dust out of the half-rusted mouth guard.
“Hermione,” Harry spoke quietly, “You said that Adeline Skrewtberry was in Azkaban, right?”
Hermione nodded impatiently, “Yeah, about 5 years now. What does Adeline Skrewtberry have to do with anything?”
“You said he wrote the book, had it published and only then was discovered to be a supporter of Voldemort. They found out he was a Death-Eater, right?”
Ron winced at the name Voldemort being spoken aloud.
“Of course I said that,” Hermione said, letting her bag drop to the floor. “It’s right in the front cover of the book, isn’t it? What are you getting at?”
Harry sighed impatiently, looking from Hermione to Ron, wondering why they still weren’t making the connection. “Come on, why would Snape want a book like that? I mean, why would he be studying the writings of an Azkaban prisoner? A convicted supporter of Voldemort!”
“Harry, must you keep saying that name?” Ron said, wincing again.
“Get off it, Ron,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. He turned back to Hermione who was deep in thought. “You think I’m on to something, don’t you? Nobody should be reading a book like that…unless he was a supporter of Vol—I mean, you-know-who,” he said, throwing Ron an annoying look. “The book is sort of a study aid for the dark arts, right? A curse a day keeps your enemies away; isn’t that the theme of the entire volume?” He waited for Hermione’s reaction.
Hermione breathed heavily, then shook her head. “Yeah, but we’ve been through this before, Harry. Snape is not a death-eater! He’s not a supporter of..of…you-know-who! And, besides, he could have gotten that book from anywhere!”
“But he didn’t get it from just anywhere, did he?” Harry said, eyes wild with excitement. “He got it from the forbidden section of the library. Most of those books are banned from use by students and Professor McGonagal said the others are mostly only for reference.”
“So?” Hermione retorted, one eyebrow raised. “Maybe he’s using it for reference. Maybe it has something in it about potions?”
“Dark arts potions?” Ron said, starting to come around. “Last time I checked that course isn’t offered at Hogwarts, Hermione.”
“Exactly!” Harry exclaimed, trying to keep his voice down, “Maybe he’s honing his skills in the dark arts! Preparing for you-know-who’s return!” He poked Ron in the chest. “Remember last week when Neville knocked over his cauldron in class and as he was scrambling to clean the mess? Snape mumbled something under his breath and suddenly Neville had two left feet!”
Ron giggle, remembering the surprised look on Neville’s face that day. The spell wore off by the end of the class, but during the rest of Potions, everywhere that Neville walked, he veered slightly to the left.
Harry continued, “Did you notice the surprised look on Snapes face when the spell changed Neville’s feet? It was almost like Snape didn’t think it would work or like that was the first time he’d seen it.”
“Hold it a second,” Hermione protested, “You mean to tell me that Snape would be surprised to see such a simple spell work? Do you imagine he needs some book to learn to do that?”
“No,” Harry replied, exasperated, “but the book says that the methods used for these spells are particularly dark. The same spells can be done using ordinary magic, but the book teaches the reader to do ordinary spells with much darker methods. To teach one the ways of the dark arts.”
“How do you know what the book says?” Ron said, raising his eyebrows.
Harry sighed impatiently. “I looked up the book review in an old copy of The Daily Prophet.”
Hermione looked impressed. “Good researching, Harry!”
“So, what do you think?” Harry asked, ignoring the compliment.
Hermione rubbed her chin thoughfully. “So, the purpose of the book is to prepare the reader for a life in the dark arts? And that is obviously what Snape is after…Is that what you’re saying?”
Harry smiled triumphantly. “What would you say? Can you think of another reason?”
Ron suddenly grabbed both of their arms and hurried them down the corridor. “I don’t know about all of this, but if we don’t get moving Snape could happen by and catch us here.”
They arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady, gave the password (portwallace) and entered the Gryffindor common room, which was filled with students all chattering amongst themselves. They headed toward the rear of the round room and dropped their books in a heap by one of the overstuffed cushioned chairs. A warm fire was crackling in the large fireplace.
Hermione spoke first. “Well, what should we do? Snape certainly isn’t going to tell us what he’s doing with book, is he? So how do we find out?”
Harry leaned in close and spoke in a hushed tone. “I have a plan.”
Harry told them his plan and Ron laughed every few sentences while Hermione’s eyebrows raised higher and higher on her forehead as he spoke.
“I’m not doing that!” Hermione finally exclaimed, a bit louder than she had intended. “Absolutely not.”
Harry and Ron noticed the looks they were getting from the other students in the common room.
“You mind keeping your voice down?” Ron hissed.
Hermione looked around guiltily. “Sorry, but I’m doing doing something that could get me…that could get all of us… expelled!”
“You won’t get expelled, Hermione,” Harry said, shaking his head. “You can use the Displacement spell to get the book and have it returned before anyone even notices. But we have to see what Snape’s notes say in that book. I saw his parchment sticking out of it. I’ll bet it tells exactly what he’s up to.”
Hermione sat suddenly forward “Well, why don’t I just use the spell to go forward now to tomorrow afternoon, " she whispered harshly, voice dripping with sarcasm, "take the book, then go back in time five minutes ago and put it…” Hermione looked around wildly until her eyes fell on a cushioned chair across the common room, “…there! I can put it right there under that chair! How would that be?”
Harry, getting tired of Hermione’s attitude, whispered back harshly, “Listen, if you don’t want to help out, that’s just-…”
He abruptly stopped in mid-sentence and a strange, knowing looking slowly dawned on his face.
“Are you alright, Harry?” Ron asked, looking a bit worried.
But Harry didn’t even hear him. “Hermione, say that again!”
“Say what again? What did I say?” She asked, not liking the way Harry was looking her.
“What you just said,” Harry whispered, grabbing her wrist. “About the Displacement spell!”
“You’re hurting my arm!” She said, pulling away, “And I’m not saying all that rubbish again.”
Harry rubbed his chin, then pointed at the chair. “It could be there right now, couldn’t it?” He slowly smiled, then looked suddenly at Hermione. “Okay, Hermione, say you’ll do it. Say you’ll use the spell this evening after dinner and go forward to tomorrow to get the book…then go back to five minutes ago, just like you said, and put the book under that chair! Can you agree to do that?”
Hermione looked perplexed. “Why would I agree to do something so foolish? I wasn’t serious, you know. It won’t work.”
“Ah! I see where this is going!” Ron said, finally getting it. He grinned at Harry. “If she agrees to do it, the book will be there right now!” His smiled faltered a little. “That is…if she actually does it.” He scratched his head. “But what if she decides to not do it after we’ve seen the book?”
Harry brushed the argument aside with a wave of his hand. “Don’t muddle it up with logic, Ron.” He looked back to Hermione. “Will you do it? I really think it might work.”
Hermione stared at the chair for a moment. “Oh, I guess it’s worth a try.” She looked at Harry. Then back to the chair. Then back again to Harry. “Okay, yeah. I’ll do it. Why not?”
“Great!” Harry exclaimed, smiling. “Ron, go get the book!”
Ron looked across the room at the chair, which was now occupied by a ruddy-looking first year. “Do you really think it’s there?”
“I don’t know,” Harry said, irritably. “Go check!”
Ron shrugged. “Okay.” He stood up, walked across the common room, said something to the first year, who then reached under the chair and pulled out a small brown book and handed it to Ron. Ron looked at it, then turned to Harry and Hermione, holding the book like he thought it might bite him any second.
Hermione gasped as Ron hurried back to them, holding the book out in front of him. “I can’t believe it. It’s actually there!”
Harry was beaming, “See? I told you. Now...”
“But what if I decide later to not use the spell,” Hermione said, interrupting. “What would happen? Would the book disappear? What if we had already looked in it? Would we still know what was in it if I decided to not do it and the book disappeared? This is so confusing! It opens up about a million logic problems!” Her voice was loud again.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Would you be quiet? People are staring.”
And so they were. All the little groups that had gathered in the common room were all turning to see what was going on.
“Come on,” Harry said, gathering his books and heading for the portrait. “Let’s go to the library. We can open the book there.”
***GO ON TO CHAPTER TWO: ADDED 8/18/03***