Chapter 8 : Back to Hogwarts
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Disclaimer: I do not own any of these wonderful characters; they all belong to the magnificent J.K. Rowling. (Except for the original few that you'll be able to recognize yourselves!)
Chapter 8: Back to Hogwarts
Harry walked the familiar dark corridor. He had no idea why he was here again. There was no reason to be here again, nor did he want to be here again. Too many bad memories. But for whatever reason he was there, and he couldn't turn around, so he kept walking down the dark, gloomy corridor until he reached the door. He put his hand on the knob and pulled it open. He entered the circular chamber, that was filled with its usual flickering candles that gave off an eerie blue tint. There were several more doors to choose from, but unlike his first encounter with this room, he now knew exactly which one it was; the only thing left to do was to go through it.
"But why would you want to go back there?" The little voice in the back of his mind said, but as always he ignored it and proceeded to his destination.
When he opened the door he saw it immediately, after all it was hard to miss. The black veil that hung in the archway billowed lightly, as if someone had touched it. If Harry listened close enough he could hear whispering, ghostly, voices. He began to walk closer as if in a trance, desperately trying to hear what was being said. As he inched closer he could finally hear what they were saying.
"Harry! Harry!" They whispered.
"Sirius, is that you?" He neared even closer, reaching out his hand desperately wanting to touch the veil.
"That's it Harry, come closer." The voice encouraged.
He was almost there, is hand just inches from the thin veil; there were hundreds of voices calling his name.
It was then that Harry Potter woke up from his dream, and the whispering had not stopped; it had been Ron, Hermione, and Ginny.
"Are you okay? You were muttering, but we couldn't understand what you were saying." Ron inquired, with a deep look of concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine…I can't believe I fell asleep…were the students sorted yet?" He asked a bit confused, the dream still on his mind.
"No, they're just about to, that's why we woke you up. But you missed the Sorting Hat's song." Hermione peered across the table at him. "We thought you'd like to see your cousin being sorted." She too, was obviously worried about him. But he ignored it because it was the same dream that had gotten him into the mess that was the end of his previous year at Hogwarts.
Professor McGonagall cleared her throat, signaling for the students to quiet down; the sorting was about to begin.
"Adams, Leo." Called Professor McGonagall. A brave looking boy with dark brown hair marched up to the stool, and Professor McGonagall placed the Sorting Hat upon his head. About a minute later, the hat shouted "GRYFFINDOR!" And the Gryffindors broke into applause. As the boy joined his new house, Professor McGonagall called up Leo's twin brother Perry. Perry looked a bit apprehensive as the hat was placed on his head, but looked very much relieved a minute later when he was joining his brother at the Gryffindor table.
The next first year to be sorted was Applegate, Aubrey. A small girl with curly blonde pigtails sat down on the stool and after a few minutes, was declared a Ravenclaw, and was cheered by her housemates.
Harry yawned and wished that his friends had let him stay asleep. The sorting wasn't that interesting. As his mind wandered, he scanned the staff table and saw that there was someone new. A woman that couldn't be much younger than Snape sat in the seat that Umbridge had sat in the previous year. The only teaching position that was usually open was Defense Against the Dark Arts, so Harry assumed that she must be the new professor.
"Do you suppose that's the new Defense teacher?" Harry whispered to Ron.
"Who? Her?" Ron said nodding towards the woman and Harry nodded in reply. "I reckon so, hopefully she's more qualified than Umbridge."
Hermione glanced over at the pair of them and gave them a stern glance, not unlike McGonagall's.
"Why do you care, it's not like you have family being sorted." Ron replied.
"No, but Harry does. And don't you want to find out who that mysterious girl is?" Hermione whispered, and glanced to the left of where McGonagall was standing. There sat the girl from the train, staring up at the ceiling as if entranced.
Ginny giggled. "You can tell she's muggle born."
Hermione smiled too, but quickly shushed them again, "Harry, she just called your cousin!"
Harry looked at the front of the room at the mention of Mark. Mark Evans was the average height for his age, with red hair, just like Lily's. Harry watched expectantly, hoping that Mark would also become a Gryffindor although it didn't really matter what house he was in, just as long as he wasn't a Slytherin, but Harry still hoped.
"GRYFFINDOR!" The hat shouted after a few moments. Mark seemed to let out a sigh of relief. Harry clapped proudly for his cousin. As Mark sat down farther down the table, he caught Harry's eye and waved. His father must have told him that Harry would be there; Harry grinned in reply.
The rest of the ceremony seemed to drag on. Everyone was getting hungry, and Ron muttered, "I wish the house elves would just send the food up already." Hermione's eyes widened in anger and she was nearly set off, but Ginny quietly reminded her that sorting was not yet over. They begrudgingly sat and waited through the rest of the alphabet, when finally they reached Zain, David, who was sorted into Slytherin.
"Finally!" Ron muttered.
"Dumbledore still has to make his usual speech, and introduce the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, and that girl still has yet to be sorted." Hermione was obviously still irritated about the comment Ron made about the house elves.
Ron groaned and put his head down on the table. Harry laughed, and silently agreed with Ron, but didn't dare voice this for fear Hermione would jump out of her seat. The Great Hall quieted down once again, as Dumbledore stood up.
"Welcome everyone! I hope that, despite the unfortunate circumstances of Lord Voldemort's return you and your families have enjoyed a safe summer." Most people in the room flinched at the sound of Voldemort's name, with the exception of Harry, and a few others. "I have a few things to address before our feast begins. Firstly, the forest is forbidden to everyone who does not wish to die a most excruciating and unnecessary death." The first years throughout the great hall looked around bewilderedly, but Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he surveyed the room." Last year," He continued, "Professor Umbridge had placed a number of bans upon students, clubs and teams. Those bans are now permanenty lifted from all that it applied to." The headmaster's eyes flitted to Harry for a few seconds.
"I am very delighted to tell you all, that we have a new staff member joining us this year. I am very pleased to introduce, your new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Alixandra Callaway." Dumbledore continued; the students clapped politely but it was as if they needed something much more reassuring.
Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled again as he added with a note of amusement, "I promise you all that she is nothing like her predecessor." With that the whole room, with the exception of Malfoy, and the rest of the former Inquisitorial Squad broke into cheers and louder, more appreciative applause.
"I would also like to welcome back Professor Trelawney to the Divination position, but I must add that Sybil has agreed to share her position with Firenze." Some people clapped, others groaned, but Parvati and Lavender let out squeals of delight. "Lastly, we have one more student to sort. This is her first time at any magical school and she will be beginning her sixth year here, which is a first in Hogwarts history." He paused looking over at the mysterious girl from the train. "Cassidy Lestrange, will you please take a seat at the stool to be sorted."
Harry's face went white. "No…this can't be…" His hands curled into fists. He glared at Cassidy. "She better not be sorted into Gryffindor, so help me—"
The Sorting Hat broke the deafening silence with a thunderous, "GRYFFINDOR!"
Hermione and Ginny let out a gasp of surprise at the same time.
Harry shook with rage; he couldn't find the words to express his anger. How could she have been the daughter of Bellatrix; where was she all these years? But at the same time he found himself asking, how couldn't she be? She looked just like Bellatrix, and there was no way it was just a coincidence. These possibilities raced through Harry's mind, and as they did, they seemed to become more and more in favor of the idea that Cassidy was Bellatrix's daughter. "That explains the eyes." Harry thought. She had the exact same grey eyes as Sirius had. He lost his appetite at this revelation.
Ginny, Ron and Hermione stared at Harry, unsure of what to do or say. Cassidy began to walk to the Gryffindor table and they hoped she wouldn't sit near them, for Harry's sake. But, seeing as they were the only semi-familiar faces, she walked right towards them, and filled the empty space between Hermione and a fourth year girl.
"Hello." Hermione greeted her, clearly trying to sound as friendly as possible.
"Hi…is he okay?" She asked apprehensively, nodding in Harry's direction. He was still shaking and it was very obvious to those who didn't even know Harry that he was infuriated.
"Yes, he's fine." Hermione said, as she kicked Harry under the table.
"Ow! What the—" Harry began.
"Oh look! Food's here!" Ron said excitedly, immediately changing the subject.
"I'm not hungry." Harry replied flatly.
"Yes you are." Ginny fixed him with a severe expression.
"No, I'm not, so if you'll excuse me." And with that, he got up from the table and stalked across the Great Hall.
"He'll be okay." She told Ron and Hermione, trying to sound confident, even though she only half believed it herself.
"He doesn't know the password." Hermione whispered, tears forming in her eyes.
"I doubt he's going to Gryffindor Tower anyway." Ginny watched him walk out of the Great Hall, and then turned her gaze to the Professors' table. She wanted to see if Dumbledore noticed, and sure enough the headmaster was staring concernedly after Harry as he exited the Great Hall. When Harry stormed out of the doors, Dumbledore turned to the Gryffindor table, and caught Ginny's eye. He turned his head slightly, signaling Ginny to follow Harry.
She nodded and stood up from her place at the table, "I'm going to see if he's okay."
"No Gin, let me go. I'm his best friend." Ron said, as he too stood up. Ginny raised one eyebrow at him, and Hermione grabbed the back of his robes, pulling him back in his seat.
"Aren't you starving?" Hermione prompted, nodding at his food. Ginny smiled triumphantly and excused herself from the table.
"Hermione, why did you stop me and not her!" Ron asked exasperatedly.
"Because, he will talk to Ginny. They spent the whole summer together."
"Exactly, he hasn't seen us! He should talk to i."
Hermione sighed, "Never mind."
Ginny opened the double doors, and surveyed the grounds in front of her for a moment, wondering where Harry would go. She scanned the land, and as her eyes adjusted to the light, she was able to see a figure in the distance. She continued outside, and followed her brooding friend.
Harry sat under the very same tree that a young James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew once sat, many years before. He put his head in his hands and took a deep breath, trying his hardest not to cry, because he hated crying. "I can't do this anymore…this isn't fair. I don't want to do this anymore." He thought aloud.
"Yes, but you have to, you're the only one who can, Harry."
Harry jumped, "Don't do that Ginny. Why did you follow me, anyway?"
"I'm sorry, I just wanted to see if you were all right. I wanted to make sure that you wouldn't do anything…anything…" she trailed off.
"Anything what? Do you mean try to off myself? I'm not that stupid Ginny." He retorted indignantly.
"I know that Harry…I just…you never know. Besides, what you just said doesn't make my assumptions wrong now does it?"
"Yes it does. Because I would never do that. I know I'm the only one who can save this damn world…" He couldn't keep the his tone from sounding bitter; most people would have thought he'd have come to terms with this by now.
"You know we'll all do whatever we can to help you." She knelt down next to him and put a hand on his shoulder. He chanced a glance at her and she had tears in her eyes.
"Yeah, but in the end, I have to be the one to kill…" The last word held the most bitterness.
"Look...you're going to be okay, I know you are. And about Cassidy, just because she's a Lestrange does NOT mean that she's evil, especially if she was just sorted into Gryffindor."
"That means absolutely nothing to me. Wormtail was a Gryffindor, and look what he ended up doing." Harry stated.
Ginny sighed, "Well, you don't know her, and she couldn't have known her mother, because she's been in jail for most of Cassidy's life."
"Doesn't mean she's not like her…"
"Harry, you are so stubborn! Sirius was related to her, and he was not like that at all!" Ginny's voice was rising; Harry tore his gaze away from his hands again and stared at her in shock. She rarely ever lost her temper with him.
"No one said you have to talk to her, Harry." She began again, regaining her composure, "You don't even have to acknowledge that she exists, but you shouldn't be rude on purpose. Try to give her a chance."
He looked at her hopelessly, "I'm not making any promises."
Ginny smiled sympathetically, "Shall we make our way back to the feast, before Ron eats everything in sight?" She stood up and held out her hand to assist him.
He pulled Ginny into a hug, "Thank you," he said quietly into her hair.
He knew that the upcoming term was going to be difficult, but with Ginny by his side, he knew that he could pull through if he really put his heart in it.
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