Chapter 1 : And We Start in the Middle
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He made his way down the path to Hagrid's carefully, using Lumos to guide him, with a half-conscious fear that the spell would shine through his invisibility cloak. He stumbled on a stone three-quarters of the way there, cursed softly, and readjusted his sneaker, then continued on his way. Night had fallen completely, and the moon was barely a sliver of light, hidden behind grey clouds. He wouldn't have been surprised if there had been a thunderstorm; it would have fit the ominous mood extremely.
But no. The weather was pleasant enough; crickets chirped around him and owls hooted their night-songs.
He reached the hut far quicker than he should have wanted, and held a reluctant hand out from his cloak to knock on the decaying wooden door. He could hear the mumbling of words inside, Hagrid's deep voice first, then the light trilling of hers. There was a scraping of a Hagrid-sized chair on the floor, and Hagrid-sized sounds of footsteps coming to the door. The door opened inward, and Hagrid let out a great bellow : "Fang! Ye great lummox! Come an' ge' summat to eat, ye silly creature."
Quickly, before the giant bull mastiff made its lumbering way into Hagrid's hut, Harry went in, slipping below Hagrid's armpit and taking a place firmly behind the half-giant. This had all been choreographed thoroughly; Harry was hardly allowed to breathe until the huge door shut behind him. An unpleasant sensation ran over him as Fang's nose found the hem of the invisibility cloak and snuffled under, leaving Harry's hand covered in copious amounts of slobber.
"All right then 'Arry?" Hagrid beamed down at the place where Fang's head disappeared.
"I've been better," Harry responded, taking off the invisibility cloak and flinging it over an armchair. He held up his hand, looking at it with disgust, and began shaking it vigorously. Blobs of slobber began to fly around the room, until a quiet, female voice said, "Scourgify."
"Hullo," Harry said sullenly.
"Hey yourself," said the girl, her face arranged in an equally unpleasant expression.
An awkward silence covered them until Hagrid came in with three great mugs of chocolate. "Gonna need to keep yer energy up, eh 'Arry? Bette?"
Bette gave a wan smile in Hagrid's direction as Harry just continued to stare at her with equal measures of curiosity, guilt, hurt, and dislike.
"Okay," Bette said. "Hagrid, can I ask you to…?"
"Righ'. I got some unicorn hairs ter collect. See yer later, 'Arry."
"Later, Hagrid." Harry glanced toward the giant table where the remains of a meal were sitting. "So," he began slowly, "how's it going?"
"Not too bad. I've started to cook dinner, Hagrid really appreciates that. It's the least I can do. I just cook for a family of five and eat one portion. I taught Hagrid how to make a ten-egg omelet on Saturday." She smiled faintly.
Harry nodded. He didn't really know what else to say.
"We might as well get started, the sooner we do, the sooner you can get back to the castle."
Harry reddened at the mention of Hogwarts, then composed himself. "Where are we…?"
"Well we both need to be comfortable. You brought your wand?"
"Of course," Harry said with a sneer.
"Good. You'll need it." She stood up then, and started walking toward the back end of the house, where a curtain partitioned off a small space. She held it back, then gestured inside.
She lived here now, Harry thought, looking around with interest. There was a narrow bed and plenty of cushions on the floor. Fang rested in one of them, her eyes bleary. Fanglet sat near her mother, but rose up to a sitting position as Bette came in the room. She was only a few months old, but already she came up to Bette's waist.
There was a lamp, books, a small desk… rudimentaries of school life. Some pictures were posted on the wall beside the bed and Harry caught a glimpse of them before Bette set a long pillow against the wall to lean back against. Harry and Bette : laughing into the camera. Ron and Hermione, reluctantly putting their heads together and smiling cheesily. The four of them – all making silly faces. Another of Bette and Harry – Bette was running both her hands through Harry's hair, making it stand on end. One more – focused on Ron and Hermione talking to each other, Hermione's face red with frustration and her hands on her hips, Ron rolling his eyes good-naturedly. In the background, Harry and Bette were clasping arms, twirling around in the falling leaves, her long scarf wrapping around his arms, his jacket flying open and revealing a shirt with a picture of a Hungarian Horntail on it.
This last made him gulp with nostalgia.
Bette sat on the bed, crossing her legs under her, and gestured for Harry to sit across from her.
"Are you comfortable?" she asked.
Harry made a "mmmph" sound in the back of his throat, which was supposed to pass for affirmation.
Bette scooted a bit closer until her knees were touching his, and looked into Harry's eyes. "You'll need to take off your glasses." Harry did so. "So just, take your wand out. You don't have to hold it or anything, just have it within reach. I'm really the only one who's going to need a wand."
"I don't understand why we have to do this in the first place."
Bette sighed and leaned back. "Fine. If you want to go back to Professor Snape, you're more than welcome. I know your lessons with Dumbledore are taxing…"
"You don't know anything about my lessons with Dumbledore!"
But she plowed sturdily on. "Still, this is a skill you need to know. And Dumbledore thinks this setting is 'less stressful.'"
"This is going to be about as unstressful as…"
"… vaccinating doxies. I know."
Her face became slightly angry. "No, I didn't. That was a coincidence. You'd know if I had."
Harry remained silent.
"I know you don't believe me. I know you think I'm full of bullshit, or something worse – full of Darkness. I know you think that I don't really like you, that I…" she turned her head away and stayed that way till a minute had passed. She turned back, and her face was red. "We've been over that before. Again, and again, and again. Just think, after we're done with these lessons, you may even be able to find out the truth. That'd ease your mind, I hope."
"It would depend on what I see," Harry lowered his voice into a growl.
Bette's eyes hardened. "Right now, Harry, you're going to have to trust me. You don't really have another choice."
"Harry. Trust me."
He crossed his arms, and leant forward, his nose inches away from hers. "With this… perhaps. With anything else? Never."
Bette choked back a noise that could have been a laugh or a sob, then looked down to collect herself, then back up.
"Fine by me."
"First, think of a memory that you wouldn't care if someone else knew about."
She rolled her eyes. "Think of something you would mind me seeing. Nothing too emotionally charged. No childhood memories. No sensitive moments. Nothing where you feel weak, or alone, or sad. Nothing that can be used against you."
"Well, that narrows the field down quite a bit." Harry racked his brains, and then picked the perfect memory.
Harry gritted his teeth. "Whenever you are."
"Legilimens." Bette said softly, pointing her wand straight between Harry's eyes and looking into them. She let the familiar sensation wash over her, as her world was colored emerald green for a moment, and then she fell, farther and farther, landing ungracefully on her rump in a grey room with pillars, and a fireplace at one end. The room's walls seemed to be mirrors – and then, in front of her, was Harry, one year younger.
He was standing by a tall girl with long, straight black hair and asian features. The mirror they stood by was covered in clippings from the newspaper, pictures of friends and family, and a list, topped with the words : Dumbledore's Army.
Harry and the girl were talking softly, and Bette moved closer.
"You're really good at this stuff, Harry. I've never been able to Stun anything before. I'm just wondering, if he knew…?" Her head flicked to the mirror, where a picture of a handsome young man dressed in yellow and black enthusiastically smiled at them.
"But he did know!" Harry interrupted. "It's just… Voldemort knew it better." Bette shivered at the name, but continued her observation.
There was a silence, and then the Asian girl looked up. "Look – mistletoe." She said, smiling.
"Probably filled with nargles," Harry responded.
"What's a… nargle?"
"I've got no idea…" Harry's voice was husky, his breath coming quickly. The girl began to lean in, and then Harry did too…
Bette turned away, tears running down her face.
"You certainly picked the right memory, Mr. Potter."
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