The Road Not Taken Chapter Sixteen: Sifting Through Lost Memories
"Neville?!" said Harry with a spot of fear in his voice.
He remained in his place above Harry, watching him murderously as if in a trance. Harry was about to make a huge leap for his wand on the bedside table when Neville seemed to break from reverie and shook violently before looking back at Harry with a look of surprise.
"You alright Harry?"
Harry dared not believe what Neville had just spoken. Was he alright? He wasn't sure exactly what had just come over Neville in that moment, but it had been too frightening to just shrug off as though it was nothing.
"I'm fine. You?"
"I'm a bit tired. Don't know what woke me really. I was just having this awful dream about this cold room and a weird man and then next thing I knew, I was standing by your bedside. Some party they threw last night huh? Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going back to bed."
Harry sat up in his bed long after Neville had lain down, struck to pieces with confusion and fear. Neville was having dreams about cold rooms too? Neville seemed not to be telling the whole truth; it was just so obvious. There was something really wrong, and Harry knew it for certain by Neville's lack of snoring. He was still awake, likely afraid to go to sleep. Harry knew the feeling; his mind while in the world of dreams was an open field for anyone to break into as well and it was just as true for him now as it had been last year.
He lay awake wondering how it could be. He had no scar anymore: he shared no connection with Voldemort anymore. So how was it that he could invade Harry’s dreams as easily as he used to?
Harry continued to lay awake, watching the minute hand on the clock resting on the bedside table whirl around and around until it finally read five forty-five. He knew Madame Pince opened the library at six, so he got dressed quickly and nearly ran from the wreckage that was now their common room, stopping briefly to wonder what Professor McGonagall was going to do when she found out, but then rushing from the portrait hole as though his life depended on it.
He almost beat the door to the library down and Madame Pince threw it open with a look that told Harry he was about to be assaulted for his impatience and loudness when he begged her to let him in.
"It's not often I have students trying to force their way into my library just before six on a Sunday morning," she said briskly.
"Well, this is important. I was told you have old newspapers here, and I was wondering if I might look through them."
"You're most unusual Potter. No one has asked to read through my newspapers since Percy Weasley was a student here," she said, seemingly both surprised and impressed by his request. "Actually, he was looking in here at the beginning of the summer, come to think of it. Right this way."
She led him past rows and rows of books and straight up one aisle to a very small door, probably no higher than five feet tall, and he had to stoop just to get through it. The room was narrow; just wide enough for two thin people to stand side by side and was very long.
"Right side is the Daily Prophet and the left side is the Evening Prophet. It only goes back to 1953, which starts at the end there against the far wall and come to this morning's edition just right here. Happy hunting!" she said, yawning.
Harry wanted to laugh at all the volumes and volumes of paper and information in here. This was going to consume all of his day, likely all of the rest of his fifth year and probably much of his sixth. He walked down the narrow pathway and stopped at the section labeled '1979'. It was as good a place to start as any.
He picked through the papers for nearly half an hour before he found anything that caught his attention, but just suddenly, he picked up the edition from December 26, 1979 and found an interesting bit of information.
”Regulus Black Murdered”
Late last night, it is believed that followers "Voldemort" broke into the house of the recently deceased Orion Black at #12 Grimmauld Place and in cold blood murdered his younger surviving son, Regulus. Neighbors report nothing out of the ordinary and from across the street, Marjorie Diggle only saw two people leaving the residence in the early hours of the morning.
His body was found by his father later that afternoon. Orion and Walberga Black refused to comment on the death of their son, and have not allowed authorities to investigate the house. While no arrests have yet been made, an investigation is underway to determine the identities of the two men seen leaving their house and the connection they have to the murder.
His death has come in the wake of new legislation to ban certain curses, most notably, the Killing Curse, along with the Imperius and Cruciatus Curses. With the death of Regulus Black and numerous deaths in recent months, these laws are expected to be catapulted into the law books by the first of January...
Hadn’t Sirius’ younger brother been in league with Voldemort? Harry would have sworn that Lupin had once told him that he had been killed by the Death Eaters just after the fall of Voldemort, yet the Daily Prophet from late December of 1979 said he had been killed in his own home before Harry was even born. He suddenly wondered if the room he had stumbled upon had belonged to Regulus. But he was dead. It all seemed so strange.
He put the paper back into its respective slot and continued to look for anything that would tell of who had murdered him in subsequent editions of the paper but found nothing. He went on perusing through old want ads and wedding, death, and birth announcements until he happened upon another story from February 1, 1980 that nearly struck him dumb.
"Mad-Eye Funeral Went Off with a Last Bang"
Recently deceased ex-Auror Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody had one last tribute to his paranoia during his open funeral when a Muggle "watermaine' burst and water exploded into the street outside Godric's Hall Funeral Home yesterday morning.
Arrests of people suspected in his murder were made later that day. Lucius Malfoy and Peter Pettigrew were picked up by members of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad and taken to Azkaban without comment...
Harry could hardly believe what he had read. He had never even given Pettigrew a second thought when he had arrived in this new life. So he had been arrested with Malfoy for killing Moody? He read the rest of the article, which went on to say that they had cornered Moody in his office at the Ministry late at night and attacked him without warning. He scanned the rest of the story and didn't find out much, other than that the broken water main still continued to shower as a fountain near Moody's new gravesite. He was too stunned about what to think.
He continued to drift through the papers, not finding much and skimming over the trials of Lucius Malfoy and Wormtail until he came across the headline of March 4, 1980.
"Malfoy and Pettigrew Convicted"
He briefly scanned through the story with grim satisfaction, feeling as though Moody and in an odd way his parents and Sirius had gotten some kind of justice as he learned that they were both going to serve life sentences in prison. He paused briefly when it mentioned at the end of the article when it mentioned that his wife, Narcissa Malfoy, had committed suicide after her husband’s sentence was handed down.
He went back to reading articles and snippets of stories, finding familiar names and faces featured every now and then. He found it particularly funny to read the birth announcements of September 1 and find a picture of himself, wrinkled and pinched looking, along with his parents. His father was beaming and hugging his mother who looked understandably worn and tired. It was so wonderful to be now living in a world where he could know them, for it only enhanced his appreciation for the small section of the September 1 paper that was devoted to him.
He looked at the picture for a long time, refusing to put it back on the shelf with the other yellowing versions of the Daily Prophet but at last returned it and went on in his search.
He wasn't exactly sure how long he had been looking but his stomach was growling angrily from lack of a normal meal, but he continued to search in spite of it. Paper after paper after paper was taken and replaced on the shelf, pointless in content.
The rest of 1980 brought news of more deaths and disappearances. He began to notice that the Prophet began calling Voldemort varying versions of You-Know-Who and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named rather than by his actual assumed name somewhere around November of that year. He scanned over articles about the capture of Evan Rosier, Hagrid's appointment as Ambassador to Giants, and more mysterious deaths.
Hours had gone by as he finally made it to the story of November 1, 1981: the day after Voldemort fell to Neville.
"The Boy Who Lived"
The Wizarding Community is celebrating at the fall of You-Know-Who late last night to the small son of Frank and Alice Longbottom, Neville. No one is certain what happened, but somehow the young boy survived a Killing Curse issued by You-Know-Who after he murdered Neville's parents and the curse was somehow deflected back on him.
Neighbors reported that they heard screaming and the loud cracks of a duel and were going to investigate when the house gave a "shudder", according to a resident of a few houses down, Robert Fitzpatrick. No sign of You-Know-Who could be found, but the boy Neville, now called by many to be the Boy Who Lived, was found seemingly unhurt in his crib, bearing a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead as a testament to his encounter.
Next door neighbor of 55 Pennyfield Lane Eunice Simmons confessed that "They weren't even supposed to be home. They were supposed to be going to a party in honor of James Potter's promotion to Auror but just didn't go for some reason..." When asked if she had seen anything of the murder, she refused further comment.
There are some speculations that You-Know-Who is not dead and vanquished. Albus Dumbledore said early this morning to Prophet correspondent Martha Skeeter that "He had many spells and protections guarding him against death. Of that we are certain. It is likely that he managed to achieve some success in his experimentations with immortality, and I desperately urge the Ministry to continue to search for him..." The Departments of Aurors and Magical Law Enforcement have issued a release to foreign countries warning of his possible entrance into their borders, but no search by the English Ministry of Magic has yet gotten underway.
Aurors have been sent out to search for the remaining followers of You-Know-Who, however, though no arrests have yet been made. For a list of names and descriptions of suspected Death Eaters, turn to page 8.
As for the Boy Who Lived, Neville is going to live with his only surviving relative, his paternal grandmother Augusta Longbottom after he has been released from St. Mungo's, where he remains for observation.
Meanwhile, loud parties have sprung up from all corners of the country, and Authorities are encouraging people to remain calm and discreet in their celebrations. Several people have even been issued fines for performing magic in the full view of Muggles..."
Harry felt a lump growing in his throat. Had they written anything like this for him and his parents when it had been he who was the Boy Who Lived? He felt deeply disturbed about the part where their neighbor had mentioned "They were supposed to be going to a party in honor of James Potter's promotion to Auror but just didn't go for some reason..." Why hadn't they gone? In the dreams he had been having of Tom Riddle, Riddle had told him Neville blamed him and his family for the deaths of Neville's parents. So did this mean that it was true?
Harry put the papers he had strewn about back onto their shelves, and whether they were in the right order or not, he didn't care. He was getting ready to leave the small, narrow, and much too cramped room when he spied a slip of parchment sticking out from the section of newspapers labeled 1984.
He extracted it from between the old editions of the Evening Prophet and noticed that it was a small envelope lacking a letter, addressed to Percy Weasley and on the back in a different handwriting was the message "Arcus Temporae."
He wasn't sure what that meant, whatever it was, but was beginning to feel a knot in his stomach that told him he had likely just stumbled upon something he wasn't supposed to find. Who was writing to Percy? Was Voldemort able to smuggle mail into Hogwarts?
The door creaked open and he felt his blood run cold. He reached his wand into his pocket for his wand and swallowed.
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