Chapter 5 : Chapter 4 - The Magical Library
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Ducking behind one of the shelves, Harry peered around the room. There were easily more than two dozen patrons of the Magical Library. He was surprised at the variety of people. Some appeared to be just a few years out of Hogwarts, while others were closer to Mr. Weasley's age. The younger patrons were dressed in jeans and jumpers whereas the older patrons were dressed in a mixture of Muggle clothing and traditional robes.
A book flying past his hiding spot made him straighten up. A younger witch with long dark hair wearing blue robes appeared to be directing a stack of books back to their spot on the shelves.
Taking a deep breath, Harry cautiously approached her after ensuring his glamour charms were firmly in place. "Excuse me, ma'am."
She turned to face him and his jaw dropped in shock. Before he could say anything, she gasped. "Harry?"
Harry paled as he stared at his former teammate Alicia Spinnet. She drew closer to him, searching his face. Alicia pulled him over to one of the secluded desks hidden from the main reading room by the rows of bookshelves.
Reaching out, she touched his arm. "Harry, that is you, right?"
"How did you recognize me?" he whispered.
Alicia smiled. "Your charms are in place, but your eyes are a dead giveaway. Did you try changing their colour?"
Harry nodded. "They are supposed to be blue."
"Often if a person has a very distinctive feature, it will be harder to disguise," Alicia explained quietly.
Sitting down at the desk, Harry opened his pack and let Sparkle out. With a wave of his wand he cast a privacy charm. Alicia looked around before conjuring up a chair and sitting down next to him.
"What are you doing here?" she asked. "You do realize that there is a price on your head, right?"
Harry fully intended to just make up some excuse, but as he looked at his friend and former teammate, his story came tumbling out. "Professor Dumbledore left me with a task to do. Something that will make it easier to kill -"
"Shh!" Alicia broke in. "There is a Taboo on You-Know-Who's name. If you say it, they can track you. They've caught several people that way."
A look of surprise crossed his face. "Merlin, that… I'm glad you told me, Alicia. I usually use his name."
"I think that's the point. It is the strong wizards and witches that oppose him that use his name," Alicia replied. "So you were looking for an easier way to kill him."
"Yes." Harry nodded. "Ron and Hermione insisted on coming with me. We've been staying in a tent, changing places every night. We haven't had all that much to eat and while we've had some early success, we didn't have a good lead. One night, we…we overheard a group talking about what was going on at Hogwarts. Ginny, Neville, and Luna tried to steal the Sword of Gryffindor, I think for me. I was so…energized by that, but Ron…he was so angry. He was angry that he thought I didn't care if his sister got hurt and he was angry that I didn't have a plan and we were cold and hungry. Hermione…she tried to calm him down. She cast a Shield Charm between the two of us. I didn't want to hurt him, but I was so angry at him. I finally yelled at him to get out."
Harry paused, finding the story more difficult to tell than he anticipated. "He stormed out of the tent and she ran after him. They never came back. I searched for them, made myself sick by searching in the rain. By the noon the next day, I knew I had to leave. Hermione had all of the supplies. I didn't have anything. No food, no money, no potions, not even a change of clothes. I…I realized that I needed to rethink my whole plan. I've been staying someplace safe. I also realized that I've been relying on my friends too much. I didn't bother to learn some things because I knew Hermione would be there. I've focused so much on Defence that I haven't learned basic survival skills."
He looked over at Alicia. "I've spent the past few weeks relearning some basic spells. The one thing I didn't have any information on was Healing Charms. I went to my local library to find books on first aid. I accidentally found a book that belonged here. I didn't know there was a Magical Library."
Alicia listened to him with mounting anger. She had known Harry for many years and had always liked him. Like most of the members of Gryffindor, she had witnessed many fights between Ron and Hermione. She could easily see one of their fights getting out of control, but to abandon Harry… That was something she could not understand.
"So what do you need?" Alicia asked. "Do you have food, money?"
Harry laughed. "I…the place I'm staying, it…I found a bit of money and I have some food. I'm managing okay. It isn't the best place. It's cold, but it is shelter and I've found some tinned food. I got Sparkle my first week on my own so I have company. She's been great. My owl, Hedwig…" Harry swallowed thickly. He still hated thinking about Hedwig's death. "She was killed early in the summer and I've really missed her company. Sparkle isn't the same, but she's been great."
As he was talking, he reached out to pet Sparkle. He looked over at Alicia and she could see the determination shining in his eyes. She resolved to help him however she could. "So what were you looking for here?" she asked.
"I'm hoping for books on Healing and also if there is anything on Rowena Ravenclaw," he replied.
"Wait here," Alicia said. "I'll be right back."
Within ten minutes, Harry had already started taking notes from the stack of books Alicia had brought to him.
"Harry," Alicia whispered. "Do me a favour. Promise me you won't leave until I get back. I'll be gone about an hour."
Harry shifted in his chair nervously. "Okay, but Alicia, you can't tell anyone I'm here."
"Don't worry, I won't." Alicia hurried over to the main desk and after a whispered conversation with one of her co-workers, she left the library.
A little over an hour later, Harry was closing a biography on Rowena Ravenclaw when he caught sight of Alicia re-entering the library carrying a dark blue rucksack. She hung her cloak by the desk and after briefly speaking to the witch behind the desk, she approached Harry.
He smiled as she approached. "Hey, Alicia."
Setting the bag on the desk, Alicia sat down next to him. "Harry, I got a few things for you."
"Alicia, no. I didn't mean for you to do anything," Harry protested.
She put a calming hand on his arm. "I know you didn't. But I want to help, Harry. My brother and sister are both at Hogwarts. They should be worried about crushes and Quidditch and winning house points, not worried about the Death Eaters running the school."
"I know," Harry said softly. "My…my girlfriend is still there. I can tell you it scares the hell out of me. We…we broke up so that hopefully she won't be targeted because of me, but I really miss her."
Alicia nodded sympathetically. She leaned to whisper urgently. "Harry, I know you can do it. I know you can beat him."
She opened the rucksack. "I got you a few pair of jeans and t-shirts. The apothecary around the way sells a starter pack of healing potions – Pepper up Potion, Blood Replenishing, Cough Potion, and Bruise Paste. There's a collapsible cauldron at the bottom. They don't last long, but I figured they would do in a pinch. I added some biscuits and a box of tea bags. It's not much."
"No, Alicia. It is more than enough. Thank you. I promise, I will pay you back," Harry said as he eyed the full pack. The trust and belief she showed him warmed him to the core. He hadn't spoken to anyone in the Wizarding world outside of Ron and Hermione for almost four months. He hadn't realized how much their abandoning him had shaken him until he felt the level of belief Alicia had in him.
He gathered up his materials and scooped up Sparkle, putting them in his bag. Alicia handed him the bag she'd put together for him and gave him a hug. "Good luck, Harry."
"Thanks, Alicia." He paused for a minute as he looked down at her. "Do me a favour? Wait until next week and then just let the twins know you saw me. Ask them to let Remus know that I'm sorry and I'm okay."
"Of course." Alicia leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. Harry blushed and gave her a smile as he left.
Hermione stared at the ceiling of Ginny's room. She really didn't know what to do and she hated that feeling. She kept going over their last fight again and again in her mind, trying to see what else she could have done. She felt so guilty for agreeing to stay with Agatha. Why hadn't she sent him a Patronus letting him know they would be back?
In the past few weeks, she had overheard various members of the Order of the Phoenix talking about Harry. Some of them seemed to be blaming Harry for abandoning his task. She wanted to let them know that Harry wasn't to blame, but she also didn't want them to know that she and Ron had abandoned him. A knock on the door brought her out of her reverie.
To her surprise, it was Ron who opened the door. He had just moved back into the Burrow after spending a week at Shell Cottage with Bill and Fleur. She hadn't talked to him in private since that morning in Godric's Hollow. She quickly sat up on the camp bed on which she normally slept.
"Hermione." Ron awkwardly made his way into the bright room and sat down on Ginny's bed. He looked up at Hermione before he looked down at his hands. "I'm sorry for the way I've acted. I'm sorry for what I said to you."
"You keep saying you are sorry, but then you go and do something else hurtful," Hermione said softly.
Ron sighed. "I know. It's almost like I can hear myself being so horrible to you and I want to stop, but I can't stop the words in time."
Hermione looked over at the boy she'd had a crush on for years now. She knew he had a good heart and could be kind, loyal, and funny, but his temper and jealousy could easily get out of control.
Sighing, Hermione asked, "What are we going to do?"
"Do?" Ron repeated. "Why do we have to do anything?"
"Ronald, we don't know Harry's whereabouts. We are no closer to finding the Horcruxes. We need to talk to someone," Hermione replied heatedly.
Ron rolled his eyes and gave in with ill grace. "Okay, I do feel bad that he's out there by himself, but wasn't that his original plan – to go by himself?"
"Ron, stop it," Hermione said sharply. Taking a breath to calm herself, Hermione continued, "Who should we talk to?"
After considering the matter, Ron replied, "Why don't we talk to Bill and Remus? They are the least likely to make a fuss."
Harry looked around his childhood bedroom as he prepared to leave it for a second time. Surprisingly, he felt better this time. He felt more prepared and more focused. He was going to Godric's Hollow. He felt a strong need to reconnect with the place where this all began for him. He wanted to talk to Bathilda Bagshot and visit his parents' house.
While he was in the Magical Library, he had found a map of Godric's Hollow. He was pretty sure he would be able to find his parents' house, Bathilda Bagshot's house, as well as Professor Dumbledore's family home.
Gathering Sparkle in his arms, he Apparated to Godric's Hollow.
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