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Free Will and Fate by Sara Winters
Chapter 32 : Unusual Tales
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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            The moment she got her bearings after stepping out of Pensieve, Hermione ran over to Harry and put her arms around him. She was trembling as she sank onto his lap in the chair and he held her close, looking over her shoulder to Professor McGonagall who seemed just as shaken as the girl in his arms.

            The Headmistress took a seat on the other side of the table silently. She stared at her hands for a few minutes, playing with her fingernails, fidgeting, trying to distract herself as thoughts of what she had just witnessed played through her mind again. She settled for siphoning both memories out of the Pensieve and putting them back into their labeled vials.

            "I'm so sorry for what happened to you," Hermione whispered in his ear. She pulled back a little and looked into Harry's eyes. "I don't know how you made it through all that. You both nearly died."

            "Fawkes saved me and Ginny that day. I'm just glad I got there in time to destroy the diary," Harry said.

            "If events got progressively worse over the years, I'm not sure I wish to see anymore," McGonagall said. "I wonder if that house-elf could give us information about whatever Lucius is up to now."

            "I doubt it," Harry said. "Dobby had to hurt himself every time he tried to warn me that year. There's only a slim chance he could tell us anything now."

            "Yes, they are tremendously loyal creatures," McGonagall said.

            "What about Draco?" Hermione asked. She stood and moved to sit in her own chair. "Dobby is bound to do anything Draco asks of him because he's a member of the family."

            "We don't know if we can trust him," Harry reminded her. "I have no idea if he ran to his aunt the other day or not. Plus, Dobby could still tell his father whatever Draco asks him about."

            "Unless he orders him not to. It's worth keeping in mind, Miss Granger." McGonagall sighed. "How was the hospital visit?"

            Harry shook his head, avoiding Hermione's eyes as he answered. "It's worse than I thought. I knew it was bad, but…" Harry shook his head again. "I copied the medical file." He put a hand on top of Hermione's when she reached for the folder. His eyes locked with hers. "You might not want to read that. At least give yourself some time to recover from what you've just seen."

            She seemed startled by his statement. "All right. I guess we can work on trying to figure out the curse tomorrow. Do you want to go through memories from third year?"

            Harry nodded. "These are a lot more tame than the first two. You really only need to see the one where Professor Lupin and Sirius Black discovered that Peter Pettigrew had faked his death and was living—hey! Ron doesn't have a pet rat, does he?" Harry looked around in alarm. He had completely forgotten about checking his own dorm room for the smelly, balding animal his parents used to call friend.

            Hermione shrugged. "I don't think he's ever had a pet at school."

            "Why?" Professor McGonagall asked.

            "He—Pettigrew—is an unregistered Animagus. After he faked his death and framed Sirius for leading Voldemort to my parents, he was living as a rat and Ron's family kept him as a pet. You'll get to see Sirius and Lupin blow his cover." Harry smiled. "You'll also get to see us disarm Snape, knocking him out. Too bad we can't do that again. If you really want to see something interesting, you can watch my memory of Professor Lupin turning into a werewolf or when I fought off all the Dementors by the lake. I had to break these up into separate memories because they're so long."

            "You've led a more interesting life than wizards several times your age, Mr. Potter," McGonagall said with a faint smile. "I don't know many students your age who could fight off even one Dementor. How many were there?"

            He shrugged. "I think there were over a hundred, but I don't remember exactly. They were surrounding the school the entire year."

            Hermione stared at him openmouthed.

            Harry resisted the sudden urge to smile. He knew he wasn't bragging, but it felt like it every time he went over details of his past this way. "Why are you looking at me like that? I told you all of this last week, remember? This is when you and I used the Time-Turner together." He pointed at a bottle on the table. "After what's happened, I wonder if Dumbledore would regret giving us permission to do that. I never would've considered changing my past before then."

            Hermione touched his wrist softly. "Harry, don't think that way. What's done is done."

            He nodded. He knew that better than anyone. He picked up one of the vials. "You two ready?"

            "You're not coming with us again?" Hermione asked. "I didn't think this one was all that traumatic."

            "It's not," Harry said. "I found out more about how my parents died." He looked across the table as Professor McGonagall coughed. "I should've shown you the memory of when I left the letter for them first. After you hear Sirius and Pettigrew describe what happened, maybe you'll understand better why I did it." He lowered his eyes to the bottle in his hand. "I just don't feel like hearing the story again. It's enough that my mom is here now." He opened the bottle and poured the memory into the Pensieve.

            "What will you be doing while we watch this?" Hermione stood next to him and put a hand on his shoulder.

            "I'm going through this book," he said, motioning to the beat-up text he'd borrowed a few days previous. "Now that I have an idea what symptoms to look for, maybe I can tell if one of these potions was used. Though after what I saw and read…" He looked at the folder of his medical records and then back up at Hermione. "I'm not sure how much of it will be helpful. We'll see."

            Hermione bent and kissed him on the cheek. "Have faith, Harry. I do."

            He nodded but did not respond. He stared at the cover of the book in front of him silently until he was alone in the room and then he opened it, searching for a cure that was looking more and more improbable by the day.

 

 

            "Ignore it," Hermione said. "We know what's really going on. That's more important than what everyone else thinks."

            "I know," Harry responded. He sighed. It was easy for her to say that. She tightened her arms around him briefly before kissing him on the cheek and releasing him. "Good night, Hermione."

            "Good night," she said before turning and walking up the stairs to the girls' dorm.

            Finally able to escape the staring from students in the common room, Harry took the stairs two at a time to his own dorm, stopping in the doorway when he noticed Dean and Ron standing near his bed, staring at the floor next to it.

            "Something up?" Both boys turned at Harry's voice. Between them, he saw what had held them so captivated. The cabinet next to his bed had been opened and turned over; his clothes were scattered everywhere. The few contents of his trunk, mostly a few books from previous school years and extra quills and parchment, were scattered all over the floor.

            "We just came up here," Ron said. "No idea who did it."

            "It's okay," Harry said. He had a very good idea. His stepfather had decided to reclaim his stolen property once he'd realized Harry wouldn't be around. Snape hadn't even bothered to hide what he was doing. Harry was relieved Professor McGonagall had let them leave everything of importance in her office. He pulled out his wand and cleaned up the mess, glad the ink bottle that had been dropped hadn't broken and spilled all over his things.

            "Are you okay?" Dean asked. "I mean, after what happened yesterday…and this morning."

            When he looked over to Dean, he noticed that Seamus and Neville had joined his other two roommates at the foot of his bed, all of them eager for answers. "I'm fine," Harry said, though it was nowhere near the truth. The agreed upon story would suffice for his roommates. "Hermione is upset that we're in trouble, but it's not going to affect her marks, so she'll get over it. Professor McGonagall basically told me if I don't stay away from Snape, or at least stop fighting with him, she'll punish me more. Other than that, I'm fine."

            "You don't still feel sick?" Neville asked.

            Harry paused. Was Neville more affected than he'd let on earlier? "No. Do you?"

            "No, I…" He looked around at the other boys. "Would it be okay if we talked alone, Harry? I have some things to ask you."

            "That's fine," Harry responded. He nodded at the other boys and they all went to their beds, watching the quiet pair as they sat side by side on Harry's bed. "What do you want to know?"

            "You know more than you were saying this morning," Neville began. "Don't bother denying it. Hermione never gets defensive like that unless she has something to hide. Tell me what you know about what happened."

            This was one of the things Harry had been afraid of, having to lie when asked a direct question by someone who needed to know a good portion of the truth. "I can't tell you everything," Harry whispered. Professor McGonagall would probably kill him for the little he was going to say. "You can't tell anyone what I'm going to tell you. The woman from the Ministry is an Auror."

            "So that's why she was sent to inspect the room?"

            Harry nodded. "She spent half the afternoon searching the room and she didn't find anything. She's been searching the school for things the Ministry has been missing for weeks."

            "From the break-ins over the summer?"

            "It may go back further than that, but yes," Harry said.

            Neville shook his head, his confusion evident. "But what does have that to do with what happened to us? Professor McGonagall isolating you and Hermione? The voice?"

            "The voice?"

            Neville's eyes widened. "You didn't hear it? Lavender thinks I must've been in shock, but I could swear I heard a voice just before I passed out. It said something about…" His eyes rolled to one side as he thought. "Destroying the unworthy and forgiveness and…never mind. You have no idea what I'm talking about."

            "No, I do." Harry put a hand on Neville's arm before he could get up to leave. "I heard it too." He looked down. "Parvati was right. It has something to do with our scars."

            Neville lifted a hand to the side of his face. "You're not just saying this to scare me? The last time I passed out like this, the Minister told Gran he thought it might have something to do with my scar."

            "I thought nothing had ever happened with your scar before," Harry said. "The Minister visited your house?"

            "Nothing major has happened, but it's hurt a few times before. I passed out ages ago, when I was eight. Gran didn't think it was a big deal. I was just starting to show major signs of having magic ability and she thought the headaches and dreams and things were because of that."

            "What?" Harry waved at Ron absently when he looked over to them. "You've been having dreams and headaches and you passed out?"

            "I don't think it's all related to my scar, but yeah." Neville looked down and began picking at a loose thread on Harry's blanket. "My uncle got worried one day when he was babysitting and he took me to St. Mungo's when Gran wasn't around. The Minister heard about it and came by for a visit. Can you imagine?" Neville looked up and Harry saw the embarrassment in his eyes. "I had a few nightmares and they act like it's the end of the world. When I passed out a few weeks later, Dumbledore came by the house and told Gran if my scar bothered me again to contact him. She said it wouldn't. And it hasn't. Until yesterday."

            Harry wanted to scream. Did this mean Voldemort had almost come back years ago? He hadn't felt anything from his own scar until he'd come to Hogwarts and Voldemort was near him, gathering strength. How long had Snape's plan been going on?

            "How did you get your scar, Harry?"

            He looked up at the other boy and shook his head. "I promised Professor McGonagall I wouldn't discuss it."

            "But Hermione knows."

            "Hermione is in danger because of it." Harry looked around their room and lowered his voice even more. "Look, what happened with me over the summer—Professor McGonagall wants me and Hermione with her during the day because we're researching my attackers. She's also protecting both of us."

            "How?" Neville asked. "I don't see how this relates to what happened yesterday."

            "I'm sorry, I can't tell you." Harry shook his head and looked away from Neville again. "I don't know exactly what happened yesterday, but as far as I know, you're not in any danger. If you were, Professor McGonagall would protect you too." Harry scratched at his head absently. "As far as our scars go, you might be on to something about something nearby affecting both of us. But after all of the attention yesterday, I doubt whoever caused it is going to do whatever they did again."

            "That doesn't tell me anything, Harry. You know who's doing this, don't you? Why don't you just tell me the truth?"

            Harry shook his head again, still avoiding Neville's eyes. "I can't tell you any more than I already have. Just don't worry about it. And don't tell anyone what I've told you." He looked at the other boy's face again. The guilt that hit him felt like a punch in the gut. "If you absolutely need more answers, come by Professor McGonagall's office during lunch tomorrow and she'll decide if there's more we can tell you. But I swear, none of this is about you," Harry added.

            Neville didn't respond. He shook his head and walked over to his own bed, sitting on it and closing the dark curtains around himself. He didn't move for the rest of the night.


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