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Chapter 7 : Locked up
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You must realise real life kepts me and my co-writer off from writing, esp. if you have a family and a job whatever. Its a hobby to write so we search after this spare time where we can do so but if you did work 8 or more hours a day you'll find yourself not really able to focus your thoughts at this.
Edit I would like to thank DadofHermyGinny for his betaing this chapter.
Chapter 7: Locked up
No matter how often Harry had done this before, it continued to be unbelievably hard for him to empty his mind of all worry. Pictures of his past, and of his loss, haunted him once again as he rested on his knees, panting heavily, and tried to get his strength back. By now, his forehead was covered in a faint film of sweat.
Harry could taste salt on his lips as he stood up from the floor with difficulty. Not far away from him
stood Dumbledore, watching him intensely, as if to find an answer - as if to figure out if Harry already
had this power. As Harry lifted his wand once more, he could see that it shook slightly.
"Enough for today, Harry. We will practice further tomorrow. Remember to empty your mind before you go to sleep. Voldemort now knows that he can reach you if your mind isn't guarded well enough. Occlumency is the only magic that will keep your mind and your feelings safe. For your own sake, you must master Occlumency as soon as possible." Dumbledore looked deeply into Harry's eyes.
Harry nodded slightly. This was what Snape had told him just a few months ago. "The last few weeks I didn't dream much." He cleared his throat as he tried to remember how this week's dreams had been. "Except for the night the Grangers were attacked." Before he knew it, he told Dumbledore about the dream.
It was still so very clear in his mind - he could still hear the screams of agony. As Harry ended his
story, the old wizard seemed to be in deep thought about something that Harry couldn't quite understand. "It couldn't - it couldn't be that Voldemort *wanted* me to see this, could it? I mean, in this dream about Sirius he was there, too. He was always there in some way." Unbeknownst to Harry, his voice quivered slightly as the reason behind the dream became more and more clear.
"Voldemort wanted you to see his Death Eaters torture and kill the Grangers, but something prevented it," Dumbledore explained. "Something happened this time so that the plan failed. This would explain why his Death Eaters didn't perform the killing curse. As you woke up, the connection between you and Voldemort was lost. That is probably the only reason why the Grangers aren't dead now", Dumbledore explained, with a knowing twinkle in his eyes.
As he heard this, Harry felt as if someone had punched him in the stomach. Now he knew that only he was truly to blame. If only he had practiced Occlumency. If he had mastered it months ago, the Grangers would never have been attacked in the first place. He felt so foolish and stupid for letting this happen.
"Voldemort's main goal will be to become powerful again", continued Dumbledore. "He will continue to gain power like never before, because he realizes that you must have a power which he does not know. I am afraid that the next months will be no easier than the past one. You are almost an adult, and therefore you must learn to duel. I certainly know that you dueled with Voldemort, but you must be even more prepared and know every trick in order to be successful in the end. Mastering Occlumency is a small step, but is the very basis of what you must learn. In our next meeting, we will discuss this matter further, and talk about who will teach you." Calmly, Dumbledore went on as though he hadn't recognized Harry's painful expression.
Harry was dimly aware of Dumbledore saying his good-byes and leaving him in his room alone. His first Occlumency lesson with the greatest wizard of the century had turned out to be one of the most unpleasant hours of his life. It just couldn't be possible that the Grangers had been attacked only because Voldemort knew he could reach Harry's mind. It didn't seem right - after all, the Order had known for almost a full year that the Dark Lord was back, and after Harry. Why hadn't there been anybody guarding the Grangers' safety? Why had nobody prevented all of this?
Harry shook his head to get rid of all these unreasonable thoughts. This had become his ritual in the past weeks since Sirius had fallen through the veil. As Harry moved slowly toward the windows, he could feel his temper rising. With an empty mind, he narrowed his eyes and stared through the glass. He could see a slight reflection of his glasses in the windows. The sky was gray and dark, although it wasn't at all late. To the contrary - lunchtime wasn't far away. On the horizon, Harry saw a brown owl flying in his direction. Just as he was about to open the windows for it, it turned slightly and landed on the windowsill outside of Ginny and Hermione's room. Nobody opened the window, and the owl sat there for several minutes.
Without a second thought, Harry opened his windows. Before long, the owl flew over to him and allowed him to unfasten the letter. On a white envelope was written the name "Hermione Granger" in deep blue ink. On the back side of the envelope was a slightly lighter blue seal with a coat of arms. Harry knew he had seen this coat of arms somewhere before, but couldn't quite place it. He turned the letter over, but could only see Hermione's name. This was quite unusual, as official letters addressed there had always indicated where the owl should deliver it - yet this only had a name.
He slowly made his way out of the room and went down the stairs to the next landing. He heard his name, and turned to see Ginny coming up the stairs.
"There you are! I was just about to call you for lunch", she said as she reached him. She saw the envelope in Harry's hands.
"What is it?", she asked, and took it out of his hands.
"Just a letter for Hermione", Harry answered with a tight throat, as he watched Ginny's face darken.
"It's from the Ministry", Ginny said. To Harry's amazement, she put the envelope in her back pocket. He stared at her for seconds before opening his mouth. "Don't you think Hermione should read it?"
She shook her head slightly as she gestured to him to follow her downstairs. "When I brought her breakfast, she told me that she wanted to be left alone. All she told me was that she needed time to think. I don't know, but I think that what happened to her parents is still bothering her greatly."
"She shouldn't be left alone", Harry whispered urgently to Ginny. She just sighed and shook her head. The gesture was starting to annoy Harry.
"Hermione locked the door after I left. I think all she needs is time to figure this out. You know how she is, Harry", Ginny said quietly as they finally entered the kitchen.
To Harry's great surprise, Mr. Weasley was sitting along with Mrs. Weasley and Ron. He gave Harry a faint smile.
"Harry, good to see you. I just came over to tell you that you might want to come along with Hermione to see Minister Fudge. He wishes to hear all about the attack firsthand." Harry sat down next to Ron, who was eating his sandwich without saying a single word.
"When are we meeting Fudge?", Harry asked.
"Tomorrow at 8:00 am, at the Ministry." Mr. Weasley looked questioningly at Harry before adding, "I thought Hermione got a letter from Fudge?"
Harry continued chewing his sandwich.
"She hasn't read her letter yet, Dad. She's spent most of the day sleeping", explained Ginny. Harry looked at her, saw her nod slightly to her mother, and understood. Mrs. Weasley had always fussed over them a great deal, but with Voldemort returning to power, her fussing had, if possible, increased.
Time passed slowly. Mrs. Weasley had insisted that they needed to clean even more rooms, and the third landing wasn't done yet. It wasn't until evening that a very tired Harry entered the room that he shared with Ron, who had been strangely quiet all day. Just as Harry started to change, the door slammed shut, and Ron was standing in the room, red-faced.
"Tell me what's going on, Harry!", Ron demanded through gritted teeth.
Harry had a sudden urge to not tell Ron what had really happened, so Ron would know how it had felt for Harry to spend all those weeks alone at Privet Drive last year without a clue.
"I don't know what you're talking about", said Harry casually as he changed into his pajamas.
"I know **** well that you know more than I do about the attack at the Grangers. What are you playing at, acting like Mom and Dad? Come on - tell me what happened that night!", Ron shouted angrily.
"Maybe you should ask your parents. They might tell you more", Harry shrugged, as he finished putting on his pajamas. "I told you that they won't tell me anything", shouted Ron. "They're acting like I'm a bloody child. If you must know, they even forbade me to go to Hogsmeade this year!"
"Oh, I'm so very sorry for you, Ron", Harry said sardonically.
"Are you going to tell me anything?", Ron roared, as he planted himself heavily on his bed.
"No, I won't. Dumbledore made me swear I wouldn't. Good night." With this, Harry went to bed with an enormously satisfied feeling.
Harry nodded off. In a dark room, only a beam of light illuminated a person kneeling on the dirty ground. Soon, Harry realized that he was in a prison, and the person looked rather filthy, and in a bad state. She was thin and very pale, and in front of her knees was a thick book. A slight muttering was heard from the woman, which sounded very familiar to Harry.
"There has to be a counter-spell - there has to be..." She kept muttering her mantra.
Slowly and uncertainly, Harry went around the woman, who appeared to be very young. She had long, uncombed, brown, filthy hair, which made her appear even more pale under her dirty skin. A sudden noise, which sounded suspicious, and the sound of rattling breathing and chains forced the woman to slam the book shut and look up for the first time.
Her eyes had a look of pure terror, and Harry knew them so well. He was about to step closer and try to do something, but suddenly it was too late, and the scenery changed rapidly. He felt so very pleased with himself as he walked slowly down a dark corridor. At Harry's side was a man whose face he couldn't see. In the darkness, he could just hear his faint, low voice.
"Master, everything works as planned. Dumbledore doesn't suspect a thing." Harry flexed his pale, long fingers slightly in pure glee. "Indeed, this will be a great day", he said in a cruel voice.
Someone shook him roughly. "Wake up, Harry", a low voice said.
He stirred abruptly and looked around, but only saw Mrs. Weasley standing by his bed. A few strains of daylight came through the windows as Mrs. Weasley turned away and left the room.
Twenty minutes later, Harry left Ron and his snores alone and hurried down the stairs, for once finding the kitchen rather full. Mr. Weasley was absently eating a sandwich behind a copy of the Daily Prophet. Lupin was in a deep discussion with Bill and Mad-Eye Moody.
Mrs. Weasley was busy trying to assure Tonks that she didn't need her help making breakfast. Sitting all alone, with a firm, pale face, and in dark blue clothes, was Hermione. She was absently picking at her plate, which was untouched. It looked as though she was someplace far away with her thoughts. Her hair was tied together in a knot that made her look older than she was.
The expression and paleness of her face reminded Harry very much of their third year at Hogwarts. But this time it was different - it was caused by true illness and deep worry for her parents, rather than simply studying too much.
"Ah, Harry dear, sit down and eat! We're in a bit of a hurry right now because the Portkey will be active in a few minutes." Mrs. Weasley bustled him over to a free place and set a plate of sausages and eggs in front of him. Slightly distracted, he sat down and looked across to Hermione, who hadn't even recognized him yet.
"Um, well, why a Portkey? Last year, we went to the Ministry like Muggles", he asked, as he started to eat. Unlike last year, he was a bit more hungry.
"Because it's too dangerous! No guard can guarantee our safety if Voldemort is lurking and waiting out there", Hermione snapped impatiently, as Mrs. Weasley winced slightly at the name.
Unsure, Harry looked up, and found Hermione staring right back at him. It was not at all a pleasant morning. The atmosphere was tense, and Hermione's mood was anything but friendly, though silently, he understood why. Fudge was not the sort of person Harry wished to see again, and was most likely not a person to whom he'd wish to tell what Hermione had to tell.
The Portkey was a usual one - this time, a wooden stick which Mad-Eye had used. They arrived directly in the hall of the Ministry, where the lifts were to be found. Nothing had changed since the last time Harry had been there. Just a few weeks ago, and a few meters away, Sirius had fallen through the veil.
If Harry closed his eyes or just allowed himself to think about it, he heard and saw everything like an old dream replaying in his mind. As they stepped into the lift, he wondered absently if they hadn't been controlled.
"Goodness, didn't you know? Since the Ministry has finally admitted that You-Know-Who is back, you can only arrive as a visitor via official Ministry portkeys, and only if Aurors are guarding you. They even took care of the phone-box after the attack at St. Mungo's", Tonks said as the lift started to move.
Today, Tonks had short blue hair, which was the only thing that slightly lightened the mood. As Harry looked around and caught Hermione's eyes, he knew her thoughts were on the same day as his own. To his amazement, her eyes showed sympathy for him, and a sadness for the loss this place caused him. Each time the lift stopped, memos zoomed in and out. It wasn't long until the doors opened, and they saw Percy Weasley standing there, surrounded by Aurors.
He didn't look at Mr. Weasley or Harry, but looked at Hermione. It was a bit bizarre, as he acted as if nothing had happened.
Harry left the lift with Mr. Weasley at last, and with narrowed eyes followed Percy and the rest of his large group. To his satisfaction, he saw Hermione listening to Percy's encouraging talking with a deep frown, but this didn't seem to bother Percy much. Suddenly, Harry didn't know if he could hold back his temper if he met Fudge again - someone who had called him a liar and had made his life a hell, even at Hogwarts. Though feeling that something might go horribly wrong, and he might end up shouting at Fudge - Harry didn't feel that this was wrong at all. He might finally get what he wanted: answers.
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