That night in Gryffindor tower, little could have been done to stop the party that went on throughout the evening and well into the night. McGonagall had in fact made a visit to try and calm them down, but had in turn been convinced by the twins to have a butterbeer with the team before going back to her office.
‘How do you do that?’ Ron shouted to his brothers as they continued to drink butterbeers and hand out treats they had collected from the kitchen earlier.
‘It’s all in the Weasley charm, dear brother,’ George told him with a smirk.
‘And I’m afraid you have yet to perfect it. But don’t worry, you will. We Weasleys always do!’ Fred added with a cheer and everyone around him laughed loudly.
The Gryffindor banner was once again strewn across the common room and several tiny fireworks were set off around the room. Fred and George had brought some of their latest creations with them in the hopes that Gryffindor would win and they would get to try them out on the students at the afterparty.
The fireworks were actually miniature versions of their much larger ‘Anti-Umbridge Brigades’ and only whipped around the room for a few minutes before slowly dissipating and finally vanishing altogether. The twins had decided that it was far too difficult to sell the larger fireworks and that they would be wise to find a new way to bring havoc to the corridors of Hogwarts.
Fleur had been by earlier to congratulate Harry on their victory but she was not able to stay long as she had a lesson to prepare for Monday’s classes. They made plans to meet the next night after dinner and she set off through the porthole back to her quarters.
Harry now sat in an armchair near the fire, across from Marc and Hannah Abbot. Marc had invited her, and none of the other Gryffindors had had any problem with it, especially after having spent the evening at the Halloween ball with her. Hannah really was hilarious, always telling jokes and keeping them in stitches. At the moment though, she was being shown around by her sister Sarah, one of the new first year Gryffindors. Marc and Harry played a game of wizard’s chess and talking about how great Marc’s first game as a beater had been.
‘I can’t believe how much fun that was! I mean, I’d played at Durmstrang but it was nothing like that. We don’t have houses there so there are really only two teams all the time. I can’t wait to play whoever wins next month. Do you think it will be Slytherin or Hufflepuff?’
‘Definitely Slytherin!’ Harry said immediately, knowing how ruthless the team was, and certain that they would stop at nothing to play Gryffindor again.
The pair continued to talk with Hannah as the night wore on until the Hufflepuff girl had to leave and the younger students started to make their way up to their beds. Harry found it odd to see Ron helping Katie usher them up to their dormitories at midnight, threatening to take away house points if they did not listen. It was usually Hermione who did this, always ready to be the strong arm when needed, but this was no longer the case as she barely showed her face around the common room.
Harry found again that she was nowhere in sight and assumed that she was off somewhere consoling the Head Boy after his loss on the pitch today. Not having Hermione around was not only hurting him but also many of the others in Gryffindor as she was no longer around to do her Prefect duties. He would have to apologise to her in the morning and hope she forgave him. If she did not, then at least he would explain to her why he had done what he had.
By one o’clock the common room had emptied out save for Harry and Marc, who both still sat near the fireplace discussing this and that over several games of chess. Marc finally decided to call it a night and told Harry that he would wake him in the morning so they could go flying if the weather permitted. Harry agreed and told his friend he would be up shortly.
Harry sat quietly watching the bright orange flames in the grate slowly die down and become glowing embers as he reflected on all that occurred today in his head. What weighed on his mind most heavily now was what Marc had asked him earlier. When he asked who he thought would win the next quidditch match, Harry had immediately said Slytherin, knowing that Hufflepuff stood little chance. Especially now that their star player and captain was dead. He could not help but start to feel guilty all over again for Cedric’s death.
He continued to silently mull over these thoughts until he heard the portrait quietly swing forward and watched as Hermione stepped through. She stopped when she saw Harry sitting in the shadows by the fire, and stood quietly in thought. Then she turned and made her way across the common room, clearly intent on going up to her dormitory without speaking to him.
‘Hermione wait,’ he called to her before she could disappear up the steps.
She turned to face him, her features cold. ‘Oh, so we’re back to first names then are we?’ she said with such bitterness that Harry cringed. He had not realised how badly he had hurt her that night.
‘Hermione, I’m sorry. I never meant to say that to you. You know you’re one of the last people I would ever hurt,’ he pleaded with her.
‘And yet you did it without hesitation, and the straightest of faces.’ She took another step toward him. ‘You know, I really thought we were best friends Harry, but after a stunt like that you really make me wonder. I know you still care for me. You proved that when you took my place in Defence class last week. Unfortunately, that’s not really the issue.’
Harry was confused, and ran one of his hands through his hair trying to figure out what she meant.
‘I wasn’t hurt because I thought you didn’t like me. After all these years I know you quite well, but I really thought you knew me better than this, Harry. I’m not an idiot. I know why you tried to get Ron and I angry with you, and what hurts is that after all this time you still don’t think we’re good enough to help you.’
Harry just sat silently in his chair, unsure of what to say to his cleverest friend, who had known all along what he had planned and who had never once left his side. He felt terrible.
‘I do care about you Harry, and Ron for that matter,’ she said letting out a long sigh. ‘I am quite certain that will never change, but since you’ve finally made it clear that you think so little of me, I’m afraid I cannot be your friend anymore, and for that I am truly sorry. Good luck, Harry.’
‘Hermione, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you!’ Harry said frantically, rising from the chair and crossing the room toward her. He could not believe what he was hearing. How could she think that?
Hermione looked at him for another minute before turning back toward her dormitory and silently walking up the stairs, and leaving Harry alone in the dark.
That night Harry had difficulty falling asleep, and when he finally did, it was a restless sleep filled with random dreams, each more confusing than the last. He was flying on his Firebolt for a while, chasing the snitch until he finally caught it and it turned out to be an orange. Then he decided to eat it, but upon peeling it he found a Time Turner. Figuring he could give it a try now that no one was around, Harry turned it over a few times and watched as the scene around him changed.
He once again found himself in the cave he had now been in twice before, but this time he seemed to be looking down on the scene and not actually in it. Harry looked to a far wall and found that the shackles that had once held Voldemort’s prisoner were still hanging there, vacant. The prisoner had evidently been released under the Imperius to complete a task still unknown to the Order.
Harry’s attention was pulled to the edge of the cave where three people walked through one of the many entrances. One short and twitchy, indicative of Wormtail, followed closely by none other than the Dark Lord himself, and finally a masked Death Eater that could have been anyone.
‘Is it done Wormtail?’ Voldemort’s chilling voice filled the air, causing Pettigrew to tremble as he held out a hand bearing a rolled parchment.
‘Yes m-m-master,’ he stuttered severely and the roll was pulled from his grasp.
‘Finally. I have waited far too long for this. It appears that at least one among my ranks knows what they are doing.’ He turned to face the masked Death Eater and his features softened slightly, indicating his approval and possible pleasure. ‘Is he still under the Imperius?’ he asked curiously.
‘No, my Lord,’ came the response from the same Death Eater Harry had heard last time, again in a voice that he found oddly familiar. ‘Surprisingly, once he had completed the task, he began to fight the curse, causing many disruptions and suspicions. I was forced to sever the link.’ She bowed apologetically.
‘Very well,’ he continued, completely undeterred by the loss of their prisoner. ‘I no longer need him at the moment, and I do have what I’ve been waiting for. Now, let me see,’ he said with what Harry noticed was certain excitement spiking his voice.
He unrolled the parchment and though Harry tried to read it, it was being held at an angle so that he could not see. Several moments passed before Voldemort touched the parchment with his wand in several places, rolled it up and handed it to the female Death Eater.
‘I am pleased. This list will greatly facilitate the purging process. I have indicated on the list which of them are to be dealt with first. You and Bella will handle the first fifty tomorrow, and I expect you to deal with those that I have marked personally. Especially number fourteen. She has been living in close proximity to the problem for nearly sixteen years and now she will pay dearly for standing in my way.’
‘It will be done, my Lord,’ the masked woman replied and once again bowed before heading toward the cave entrance.
‘Do make sure to take your time with her. Make it as painful as possible, and leave her for the old fool to find,’ Voldemort said with a twisted grin on his nearly skeletal face.
Just as quickly as the dream had begun, it ended, and Harry found himself once again chasing the snitch around the quidditch pitch, hoping desperately to catch it so that he might find another orange.
The next morning Harry was awakened by someone prodding him in the ribs.
‘Harry, wake up!’ a voice said in a forced whisper. ‘I’ll use the Fluvius charm if I have to,’ it warned.
Harry opened his eyes to find Marc standing next to his bed, pointing his wand down at him and prepared to cast the water spouting spell. ‘I’m up, I’m awake!’ he said, lifting his arms to shield himself and knock Marc’s wand away.
After several more minutes of lounging in bed and prodding of the ribs, Harry finally got himself dressed and headed out of the common room, following an overly excited Marc.
‘So shall we fly first and then go for breakfast, or the other way around?’ he asked him, clearly not caring one way or the other, springing down the steps to the entrance hall.
‘Let’s eat later, please,’ Harry emphasized this, thinking that if he had to fly on a full stomach he would probably be sick all over his friend. Harry smiled at the idea and thought that perhaps they should eat first.
Marc led the way out through the great ornate doors of Hogwarts castle, an extremely dishevelled Harry following a few steps behind him, pulling his robes around him tighter in the cold morning air. Marc grinned at Harry’s mumblings about the injustices of being awake and outside this early on a Sunday morning.
This morning in particular was one of the nastier Halloweens Harry had seen yet, and this included his first year in which he faced a fully grown Mountain Troll. The sky was completely covered in thick, dark storm clouds, reaching across the sky threateningly as far as they could reach. The boys’ faces were met with what Harry was calling gale winds, that numbed their cheeks within seconds of being outdoors, and lifted the many fallen leaves on the ground in a myriad of colours forming tiny twisters around the grounds. Harry shivered at the sight.
The pair changed into their crimson quidditch robes and after grabbing their broomsticks and a quidditch trunk, headed toward the pitch. The first fifteen minutes of the ‘fun’ was excruciatingly cold and almost unbearable as Harry acted Keeper while Marc practiced taking shots at him with the quaffle. Harry accepted that had he been the Gryffindor Keeper last year, the Slytherins would have surely found a far worse song than Potter is our King for his abysmal talents.
Once they had warmed up slightly, Harry found the game to be much more exciting and was more than thrilled to show his newest roommate how to catch the golden snitch. He was really quite impressed with Marc’s abilities as he caught the snitch fairly quickly, six of the nine times it was released.
As they reached the end of their training, Harry and Marc replaced the equipment and tried out some of the tactics they had seen performed during professional quidditch matches. Harry nearly fell off his broom when he watched Marc perform the Wronski Feint flawlessly.
‘Where did you learn that!’ he cried at the boy, as they landed firmly on the ground and dismounted their brooms.
‘Viktor Krum taught me. We played on the same team at Durmstrang and he was a fairly sound bloke, always nice to me and trying to help me improve my game.’
‘Yeah, I thought he was decent too, but Ron on the other hand didn’t feel the same way. See, Krum asked Hermione to the Yule ball in fourth year and Ron was right jealous, I don’t care what he says.’
‘Hermione was the girl he asked?’ Marc said in a surprised tone. ‘Everyone heard about the girl he had brought to the ball. The papers back home called her a ‘near-Veela who’s radiating beauty could stop a man’s heart in his chest’,’ Marc continued to quote the newspaper article.
Harry laughed at the thought of Hermione’s face had she heard of or seen that article. Suddenly a recent memory surfaced and Harry recalled that he was to receive news from Krum sometime during the school year. Hermione had warned him at the beginning of the term to expect an owl, and yet two months into the term he had still heard nothing. He wondered what a famous quidditch player like Viktor Krum could need from a simple sixth year student halfway across the world.
‘Are you up for breakfast then?’ Marc asked him while they stored their brooms and the rattling quidditch trunk back into their places before heading back up to the castle.
‘Yeah, I’m famished. I think I could probably eat an entire Crumple-horned Snorkac if Mr. Lovegood ever finds it!’ Harry laughed loudly at this while Marc shook his head and the pair of dark-haired boys entered the Great Hall.
Most of the students were now awake and in the hall, eating breakfast and talking to their friends while eagerly waiting for time to pass. It was only nine more hours until the long-awaited halloween feast, and there was not a soul in the room who could deny looking forward to it every year.
Harry waved at Cho as he passed the Ravenclaw table and found that she waved back merrily, clearly not harbouring any hard feelings about the previous days events. They had barely seated themselves when Neville and Ron joined them and the four had an interesting discussion about Marc’s talents on the pitch. Ron was genuinely impressed and awed when he learned of Marc’s one-on-one training with Krum, and showed little signs of ever having disliked the Bulgarian player.
Just after half nine, the post owls swept in, dropping parcels and letters from families as well as subscriptions to Quidditch Weekly, the Quibbler and the Daily Prophet, into the waiting hands of the students. Harry watched as Seamus collected his copy of Quidditch Weekly and noticed that one owl had landed on the Gryffindor table and was staring at him, a copy of the Daily Prophet tied securely to its leg and a leather pouch to the other. It took him a moment to recognise that the owl was dropping off Hermione’s daily subscription but that she was nowhere to be found. Dropping a sickle into the small pouch, Harry untied the paper and watched the owl fly off hooting happily, having completed its task despite the recipient of it’s delivery not being there.
Harry let the Prophet drop onto the table where it lay unread as his attention was pulled away by another delivery. An extremely large horned eagle owl flew low over the house tables and deposited a letter in both Cho Chang’s hands and then Vincent Crabbe’s. Then the bird turned away immediately, not having stopped at all, and flew right back out of the hall. Few people had taken notice of the strange occurrence, most of them still talking and laughing amongst themselves, but Harry could not help but wonder who would be sending something to both Cho and Crabbe. Dumbledore, Harry noticed, did take note of the oddity and followed the bird’s path with an ominous look in his eyes. Harry also had the strangest feeling that he had seen the large bird somewhere before.
Trying to recall where he had seen the horned creature before, he turned to the Prophet in front of him and his eyes widened at the heading on the front page.
15 disappearances reported in the last 24 hours
Rita Skeeter, Special Reporter for the Daily Prophet
In new and alarming developments, fifteen newly reported disappearances have now added to the last sixty-three over the past fourteen days. The Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, has taken strong action in placing Aurors in and around heavily populated wizarding areas such as Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade Village. The Minister states that it is still unknown as to where these disappearances are originating, but that there is very little need for witches and wizards to worry.
It appears that each of the seventy eight missing persons are in fact Squibs, leading the Minister to believe that the disappearances may be the result of disagreements between some of the less understanding members of the wizarding community and our unfortunately unmagical members. ‘Either that, or these Squibs have somehow managed to make some sort of miscalculation in an attempt to practice magic,’ Fudge said this morning. In any case, Minister Fudge promises that the matter will be resolved shortly, and reminds everyone that there is no need for concern at this time.
Harry threw the paper over to Ron who read it quickly and looked up at him with a similarly shocked and disgusted look on his face.
‘That’s what he’s been up to!’ Ron said, meaning Voldemort but still unwilling to say his name.
‘Oh no!’ Harry said, suddenly remembering his dream from the night before and now understanding its meaning.
He jumped to his feet and immediately ran up to the staff table where he told Dumbledore that they needed to speak.
Noticing the many heads watching this interaction, Dumbledore stood and politely asked Harry to follow him into the anti chamber at the back of the hall. Harry obliged without hesitation and as soon as the door was closed, burst into an account of his dream.
‘The list Voldemort has been after from the Ministry must have been a list of all the registered Squibs, sir,’ he explained while Dumbledore watched him calmly. ‘And last night I saw him again, but this time he had the list, and marked certain ones for death by tonight! We have to stop him before he gets to the fourteenth person on that list,’ he said remembering the certain torture destined for a member of the Order.
‘There is nothing to worry about, Harry,’ Dumbledore replied easily, trying to calm him down, but only resulting in infuriating him further.
‘No, you don’t understand! I am certain that the fourteenth person on the list is Mrs. Figg, and Voldemort asked for her to be taken care of personally and left somewhere where you would find her!’ he shouted, now unable to control his anger while Mrs. Figg was probably being attacked in her home as they spoke.
Dumbledore’s eyes darkened drastically at hearing this, but he continued to stare calmly at Harry. ‘As I said, there is nothing to worry about. Arabella is very well hidden at the moment where not even the Dark Lord’s many resources can reach her. Even if Tom is able to capture her secret keeper, I find it highly unlikely that he would get anything out of me,’ he finished with a wink at Harry.
‘But how did you know?’ Harry asked, wondering why Dumbledore had said nothing the last time he had told him of his dreams.
‘Since your last dream, the Order and I have been in contact with the Minister and worked out what Tom was planning. He has become bold enough to use the Imperius curse on Cornelius, though the Minister would not admit it himself, despite the obvious signs. While we were able to place Arabella in hiding, I’m afraid that the only list of registered Squibs is now in his possession, preventing us from hiding them all,’ he added with disappointment.
‘He hasn’t got Filch has he sir?’ Harry asked, remembering the caretaker’s absence and Hagrid’s peculiar behaviour when asked about the Squib’s whereabouts.
‘It would appear so Harry, but we have not stopped searching for him. There is still a chance that Argus is still alive. He’s strong-willed.’ Dumbledore’s eyes darkened again, indicating his doubts and sadness and Harry watched as the lines around his eyes became more prominent. For the first time, Harry appreciated how very old the Headmaster was and regretted bringing up what was surely a sore subject.
‘I’m sure he’ll turn up,’ Harry said in an attempt to alleviate the tense situation. Dumbledore smiled reassuringly for him, before reopening the door to the Great Hall.
‘Please Harry, do not worry about this at all, and do keep practicing your Occlumency in the evenings.
Harry retook his seat at the Gryffindor table and tried not to notice the curious glances coming from many of the other students. As soon as he sat down Neville and Marc asked if Filch had shared the same fate as those in the newspaper article. Harry tried his best to explain what Dumbledore had told him, leaving out the details of his dreams and of course that the Headmaster was Mrs. Figg’s secret keeper. When Harry was done, there were several seconds of silence, as they all knew that there was nothing they could do.
‘Well I’m off,’ Ron told the group and stood to leave. ‘McGonagall’s got me taking extra courses with her now that I’ve finally chosen my career path.’
‘What have you chosen?’ Neville asked curiously, trying to change the somber mood.
‘I guess you’ll have to wait and find out,’ he answered to all their disappointments with a grin, before turning quickly and setting off.
‘I’ve actually got an appointment as well,’ Marc said, starting to collect his things.
‘What, with McGonagall as well?’ Harry said in surprise, wondering when he would be called upon to discuss his possible Auror training in the future.
‘Uh, no. Actually I’ll be meeting with Professor Lupin.’ Harry raised his eyebrows in surprise. He did not think that he would be sharing his private tutor with anyone. ‘Dumbledore thought that he would be the best choice to continue my lessons in the Dark Arts. He said that he did not want me to stop learning my best Durmstrang subject just because I changed schools.’ Marc shrugged his shoulders and headed out of the hall.
‘Looks like it’s you and me, Nev,’ Harry said, looking up to the blond-haired boy and taking another spoonful of oatmeal. Neville looked at him awkwardly. ‘Not you too!’ Harry said in exasperation. ‘Am I the only one without a meeting?’
‘No, it’s not that,’ Neville said with a small laugh and watched as Harry relaxed slightly. ‘Mine’s not for another hour.’
‘Then what is it? Do I have something on my face?’ he asked, running his sleeve across it in an attempt to remove any cemented oatmeal.
‘Could we talk about it elsewhere?’ Neville said in barely a whisper. ‘I don’t want any unfriendly ears to overhear,’ he said, now nodding his head toward the staff table where Harry looked up and found Professor Black watching them.
Harry nodded and the two of them collected their things and walked out of the Great Hall, heading toward the library where they were certain to find far less people, being Halloween and all. Once sitting at the back of the musty room lined in volumes upon volumes of magical content, Harry gave Neville an expectant look.
‘Well, I was just thinking, Harry. Defence class has been rather strained again this year, and while the material is at least practical, I don’t feel many of the students are learning much under Professor Black’s watchful eyes.’
‘What’s your point, Neville?’ Harry asked dumbly, not understanding what his friend was suggesting.
‘Well, we managed to find a suitable replacement last year, and I was hoping that he might wish to start his lessons up again?’ Neville finished with a hint of pleading in his voice. ‘I think it would really help.’
The look on Harry’s face was one of complete surprise as Neville’s words sunk in. ‘No way!’ he said shaking his head determinedly. ‘Do you know what she would do if she found out? Besides, if anyone found out, Dumbledore could be forced to leave the school again and there is no way I will be responsible for that twice.’
‘But we need it Harry! And you know it. I don’t want to see Dumbledore sacked either but what good is a Headmaster if we’re all dead at the feet of a bunch of Death Eaters?’ Neville said, looking around to ensure that Madam Pince was not trying to listen in.
Harry thought about this and understood how important it was that all of the students know how to defend themselves properly. Then he remembered something from second year that really did not get a chance to be effective, but that would surely prove useful now.
‘Sorry Neville, but I’m afraid I can’t restart the D.A. Even if it didn’t mean trouble for Dumbledore, I barely have a moment’s peace as it is.’ Neville looked extremely down-hearted as he started to stand. ‘Though there is one thing I think might be just as good, if not better. Let me speak to Dumbledore, but I’ll bet he’ll give us permission to reform the Duelling Club. And this time we’ll have a competent professor to teach us.’
Neville’s demeanor brightened instantly at the suggestion, ‘That would be perfect! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.’
The boys walked back out of the library, both getting an extremely nasty and unwarranted look from the snippy librarian. Neville, content with the new possibility of forming a duelling club, went off toward Professor McGonagall’s classroom in high spirits while Harry decided he would check and see if Marc was done in his meeting with Lupin.
He walked the length of the main third floor corridor, trying and failing to think of anything but the Squib disappearances, until he reached the Defence classroom. His mind was still going over what might have happened to Filch as he turned the knob and let himself in. He had expected to find Marc and Lupin talking about some terribly painful Dark Arts curse, or possibly practicing a new line of useful hexes and jinxes. What he did not expect was to walk in on Professor’s Lupin and Black in one of the most heated arguments he had ever witnessed between professors.
‘Who do you think you are to be teaching my subject to a student?’ Professor Black was screaming, her blonde hair no longer pulled into a bun, but falling all over her face in rage.
‘The Defence professor chosen by the Headmaster,’ Lupin retorted with equal anger, ‘And the professor who held this job long before you.’ Harry had never seen him so angry in all the time that he’d known him.
‘Yes, and we all know how long that lasted!’ she spat toward him as though he were beneath her.
‘Ah, good point you make, Hyacinth. I am a filthy beast aren’t I? Just like all werewolves. Best to remember that.’ He said this smugly, and Professor Black nearly snarled. She glared furiosly from where she now stood behind her desk, refusing to say another word.
Harry looked up when he saw the office door open at the back of the room, and Marc step out.
‘I think I found the book you wanted Professor. Is this the right-’ he fell silent at seeing two of his professors shooting daggers at one another.
‘It’s fine Marc. Leave the book. We’ll pick this up another day, and most certainly in a different room. You’re dismissed.’ Marc nodded and placed the book on Professor Black’s desk before walking quickly to the door.
‘Chances are your little meetings will end once I’ve spoken with the Headmaster,’ she said to Lupin in a dangerously low voice. ‘I will not have the likes of you teaching my students. Now get out of my classroom.’
Lupin stared her down one last time and Harry could have sworn he saw him bare his teeth at her before turning and following Marc out of the room, not bothering to even look at him as he passed. Before Professor Black got a chance to attack him next, Harry turned and swept out of the room, ensuring the door was closed tightly before taking off down the corridor in the direction Marc had gone.
‘Marc! Wait up,’ he shouted and caught up to the curly haired boy. ‘What’s going on?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know!’ Marc answered him irritably. ‘Have you ever seen two adults act like that? Professors on top of everything.’
Harry decided not to mention the way Umbridge had acted around Professor McGonagall, but grinned at the thought.
‘Well, at least you got out of the rest of your meeting?’ Harry suggested as consolation.
‘I suppose, but I don’t mind Professor Lupin. He’s great, and he knows what he’s doing. What’s Professor Black’s problem? I can’t stand her sometimes!’ he shouted in frustration.
‘I’m sure you’re not discussing a professor in that tone,’ a familiar voice chided from behind them, causing both boys to freeze and turn around slowly. Snape was standing a few feet behind them, a maliciously pleased look on his face. ‘I’m afraid I’ll have to remove five points from Gryffindor for each of you.’
‘But Harry didn’t even-’ Marc started to protest.
‘Don’t bother, it’s no use,’ he told him glaring at the hook-nosed Potions professor.
‘Mr. Potter is right. Now I suggest you both be on your way and in your common room until the feast,’ he ordered before heading toward the Defence classroom, his robes billowing ominously behind him as he walked.
‘So, where to?’ Harry asked his friend, who looked confused and then stared down the corridor after Snape.
‘Snape just told us to go back to the common room,’ he said, as though Harry was daft.
‘No, he simply suggested we do that. I personally don’t hold his suggestions in very high regard.’ Both of them laughed hard at this and started to make their way down the next corridor, no destination in mind.
The pair roamed the castle halls for the next hour, Harry continuously checking his watch and looking around to make sure nobody followed them. Finally, Harry made the decision to trust his new friend, and led Marc up to the Asronomy tower, having told him there was something particularly interesting going on up there. They walked into the empty space used for Astronomy lessons and Marc started looking around for something that would constitute as interesting.
‘What’s so great about this, Harry?’ Marc asked, unimpressed at being in one of his most boring classrooms during his weekend time.
‘Not the room, this,’ Harry said quietly before reaching into his shirt collar and pulling out the shining gold chain with the newly procured Time Turner dangling from it.
‘That’s not a … it couldn’t be … is it really?’ Marc said staring at the object in awe. ‘I’ve always wanted to see a Time Turner, but they’re so rare and quite illegal in most cases for underage wizards. How did you get it?’
‘It’s a long story, but I’m going to use it, and you’re welcome to come with me if you like. You’ll have to decide quickly because I’m leaving in,’ he checked his watch again, ‘fifty three seconds.’
‘Where are you going and why in fifty three seconds?’ Marc asked quickly, wanting to at least know what he would be getting himself into.
‘My parents wedding, and because they were married on Halloween exactly eighteen years ago. The wedding starts in,’ he checked his watch again, ‘thirty six seconds. If we hurry we can go back and make it down to the lake quickly.’
Marc thought for a few moments and then grinned, nodding his head and rushing over to where Harry stood in the corner to have the long chain placed over his head as well. Harry thought for another moment about all the stress of the past sixteen years. He took a deep breath and then opened his eyes to see Marc doing the same.
‘One, two, three,’ he said before grasping the small knob labelled with a tiny ‘Y’ and turning it back eighteen times. Harry felt the familiar dizzying sensation and looked around expecting to see things travel backwards extremely quickly like the last time he had done this. This time, however, was different. Swirls of colour spun quickly around them until it went black and things remained dark for several minutes until the bright colours returned and the spinning began to slow.
Harry could now see the rapid changing scenes around him as students he had never seen filed in and out of the Astronomy classroom for lessons. Finally, the spinning halted and Harry and Marc found themselves standing in the astronomy tower alone. They looked around the classroom as Harry tucked the Time Turner back into his shirt and reached into his robes again for something else. In for a penny, he figured.
‘Here Marc, get under this,’ he said, revealing his invisibility cloak and draping it over his friend and himself. It was a tight squeeze as Harry was quite a bit broader in the shoulders than the previous year.
‘Now we have to make sure we’re not seen or history could be changed,’ he warned his friend. ‘Let’s hurry, we’re late.’
Marc nodded and the pair started to move quickly but carefully out of the tower. Harry’s eyes swept the corridors they passed, taking in all of the many similarities in this past time, as well as some of the changes. Most of the paintings were the same, and Harry was thankful they were hidden under the cloak as they passed the portrait of Sir Cadogan, who of course was brandishing his sword endlessly and talking to himself.
They finally made their way out of the entrance hall unseen, noticing that several House Elves were busy in the Great Hall decorating it with hundreds of white flowers. They stepped out of the Great doors and Harry stopped walking in shock when he saw the number of people gathered around the edge of the lake in white chairs. Hundreds of students and staff, as well as certain Aurors Harry recognized, were gathered for his parents’ wedding.
As the pair walked across the grounds to see things more clearly, Harry was able to recognise far more people than he had initially thought he might. MadEye Moody was seated up at the front of the crowd, his face grizzled as ever, but with slightly more of his nose intact. He also had two perfectly working eyes, making Harry wonder how long it would be before he lost one. Most of the members of the original Order of the Pheonix were seated with Moody, and Harry was surprised to see both Alice and Frank Longbottom chatting amicably. Harry felt guilty as he watched the happy couple converse, both of them sane and very much in love. He wished he had thought to bring Neville along, especially after the blond boy’s reminder that he too had never gotten to know his parents.
Harry and Marc started to make their way up to the front of the crowd, hoping to get a better look at the wedding party, who from the look of things, had already made their way down the aisle. They crept along the edge of the lake, careful not to touch anyone, but also not to fall in. A large table filled with interestingly wrapped gifts blocked their path and Harry decided that the only way to go on, would be to go under. He started to explain to Marc that he would have to take the invisibility cloak and go under the table. Harry would meet him on the other side and slip back underneath quickly. Marc started to crouch low but stopped to point something out to Harry.
‘Who do you suppose that one’s from?’ he asked, pointing toward a small box in the center of the table.
Harry looked over to the gift that indeed looked out of place. While the other gifts and parcels were wrapped in interesting and overly expressive papers, this present, the smallest by far, was wrapped in very simple white paper and tied tightly with an elegant bow. Harry recognized the wrapping immediately, having seen it fifteen times before. He poked a hand out to check the simple card resting on top of it and shook his head in disgust.
‘Who’s it from?’ Marc whispered to him curiously.
‘My Aunt Petunia,’ Harry whispered back, still quite unimpressed with the tiny gift, although he was slightly taken aback by the Dursleys sending anything at all.
‘Maybe I’ll meet her one day?’ Marc suggested, as though this would be a pleasant possibility and not something to be avoided at all cost. Harry tried to contain his laughter.
‘No, I don’t think that will happen. The chances of you meeting my aunt are slim to none, and those are the kinds of chances you should be thankful for.’
They both snickered quietly before Marc crouched down again and climbed under the table, effectively leaving Harry exposed. Harry bent down next, ready to climb under the table but found to his shock that someone was grabbing him by the shoulder and lifting him back up.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’ an extremely pretty woman with straight, dark brown hair and golden eyes asked him incredulously.
‘I was just, I was trying to, I-’ Harry sputtered, not sure how to fix this.
‘Lily will be out any moment and if you’re not standing up at the alter she’ll kill you, James!’ the woman said urgently.
Harry's eyes widened. Of course she thought he was his father; what reason would she have to think otherwise? He smiled and nodded firmly. ‘I’m just headed there now,’ he said with a smile and tried to ruffle his hair the way he remembered seeing his father do it.
‘Would you quit ruffling your hair!’ the woman practically shrieked. ‘It’s your wedding day! And what on earth are you wearing?’ She had finally realised that he was dressed in his Hogwarts robes. ‘That’s it, you’re officially dead when she sees you,’ the golden eyed woman sighed in defeat. ‘And what is that on your forehead?’ Harry quickly flattened his hair over his scar and smiled awkwardly trying to think up an excuse. Luckily he didn’t have to as the woman was called away by one of the guests.
‘Gwen! The Giant Squid’s gone and started splashing again.’
The second she had turned her eyes away, Harry darted under the table and felt Marc still crouched under it. ‘Quick, get out on the other side and hold the back of the cloak up for me,’ he told the boy and waited for him to quickly scramble to his feet. Both boys were soon concealed on the other side of the table, and laughed inwardly as the woman called Gwen turned back to find him gone. Harry sighed in relief as she looked under the table before turning on her heel with a huff and heading back into the sea of people behind her.
‘That was close,’ Marc whispered, and Harry nodded his agreement. ‘Good thing she thought you looked like your father.’
‘Either way, there will be no more leaving the invisibility cloak for any reason,’ Harry said as the two of them walked up to the front of the crowd and moved in closer to actually stand next to the groomsmen.
Harry couldn’t believe how happy he felt at seeing the eighteen-year-old versions of the Marauders, even if he had to stand next to a murderous traitor. Pettigrew stood, seemingly happily, next to a smiling Remus Lupin, who in turn stood next to a full faced, bright-eyed and grinning Sirius Black. Harry could feel tears in his eyes at seeing his Godfather alive and well, standing barely four feet away from him. As though that had not been enough, not even two seconds later, James Potter stepped up to the alter in a flowing pair of black dress robes. Harry did not think he could have smiled any wider had he tried. Seeing his father in the flesh, for the first time he could ever remember, made him happier than anything.
James Potter stood next to his best man grinning, almost an exact mirror image of his son. Harry had always been told how much he looked like his father, and seen it in his many photographs, but seeing the resemblance in person was uncanny. Now he understood why Lupin had been unable to look at him when he had transfigured his eyes.
Moments later, music began and Harry and Marc both watched eagerly from their hidden position, as the soon to be Lily Potter started her march down the aisle. Harry gasped when she came into view. She was more beautiful than any of her photographs suggested, radiating a warmth and happiness that Harry so longed to know as she walked toward his father, with her arm wrapped in a older man’s arm.
Harry looked up at this man and realised that he was looking at his grandfather for the first time. He had graying sandy hair, reminding him of the present Lupin’s and his face was round and friendly. Harry noted the emerald green from which his own eye colour had come. If he remembered correctly, the kind old man would die of a heart attack the next year, leaving his wife to die of a broken heart two years later. As soon as Lily had kissed him on the cheek and walked up to the alter, Harry followed his grandfather’s path to his seat where his eyes fell upon his grandmother for the first time. The blonde, beautiful blue-eyed woman’s face was, if possible, kinder than that of her husband’s and it was clear to Harry where his mother’s charisma originated. He couldn't help but wonder where on earth Petunia had come from.
A few moments later, Harry heard a familiar voice begin the ceremony and smiled widely at seeing Professor Dumbledore once again ordaining the marriage. The ceremony was fairly quick, and before he knew it he had witnessed his parents wedding in all its glory. Of his parents, Lily was the first one Harry heard speak.
‘We thank you all for coming to the this blessed event, and now I welcome you all to join us in the Great Hall for a meal and the rest of the festivities,’ she called in a surprisingly strong clear voice that sounded easily over the crowd’s happy chattering.
The words had barely been spoken when the crowd rose and Harry and Marc were forced to move to the side of the lake once more while everyone herded toward the castle. Harry continued to watch the wedding party that remained behind momentarily while Dumbledore conjured a camera and had them group together.
Harry let his eyes sweep from one face to the next, noticing the happiness and excitement on each of the Marauders and then their counterpart bridesmaids, one of them being the golden-eyed Gwen. He stopped suddenly and took a sharp intake of breath when his eyes fell onto Sirius’ partner. Hyacinth Black smiled toward the camera after hitting Sirius in the back of the head playfully for having said something undoubtedly moronic. Harry stared open-mouthed at his Defence professor from his nightmare, who as it now appeared, really had been at his parents’ wedding.
He turned to Marc to get his attention and point out that their Defence professor was standing a few feet away from them, but found that the curly-haired boy was already gaping at someone else. He turned to see who had made him react in this way and also let his jaw go slack at seeing who remained seated on the now otherwise vacated white chairs.
Severus Snape and a man who looked remarkably like Sirius sat together, talking quietly under their breath while the wedding party took their photographs. Regulus Black could easily have been Sirius’ twin, and had Harry not already seen his Godfather at the front of the crowd, he might have mistaken them.
‘That’s Regulus Black, Marc,’ Harry told the boy, who still had not removed his eyes from the man with long black hair and grey eyes.
‘I know,’ said Marc coldly. ‘What’s he doing here? He’s a Death Eater isn’t he?’ he practically spat.
Harry was taken aback at the generally polite boy’s sudden dark attitude. ‘Well yes, but he’s probably here because his wife’s in the wedding party. Did you notice?’ he said, now trying to redirect the attention to their professor. Marc looked over at her, and then up at someone else.
‘Yeah, and I see she’s been partnered with the Death Eater’s brother. Great, two of Voldemort’s servants under one roof,’ he spat again in disgust at seeing Sirius.
‘If you’re talking about Sirius, he was innocent,’ Harry said, bristling at Marc’s tone.
‘Of course he wasn’t. All of the Blacks are either Death Eaters or dark wizards. Everyone knows that,’ Marc corrected him, now looking back at the two men on the chairs.
Deciding he could explain the events leading to Sirius’ assumed betrayal at a later time, he suggested to Marc that they move back into the castle so not to miss the rest of the celebration. The rest of the evening went by quickly, both of the boys enjoying themselves thoroughly, despite being trapped under a constricting invisibility cloak. Harry had managed to pick up snippets of conversation here and there from several of his parents’ old friends and noted that Voldemort’s rising in this time was just as severe as it would soon become in their own.
Harry was saddened every time he identified a member of the original Order from the photograph that Moody had shown him the year before. He knew that the majority would either be murdered or go missing indefinitely within the next three years. He wished he could warn them somehow, but Marc sensed this and warned him against it, reminding him of how history could be changed drastically if he did.
Harry also noted that Snape was oddly fond of the golden-eyed woman, and for most of the evening had had his arms wrapped around her. He had never thought it possible for the Potions master to show any sort of emotion other that spite, hatred or anger.
As the evening came to an end, Harry decided that they should leave and told Marc that they best get back to the Astronomy tower before too many people were moving around the corridors again. He took one last longing look up at his parents, promising himself he would never forget it, and turned with Marc to hurry through the silent corridors. The boys soon found themselves back where they had started and removed the cloak. All they had to do was get back to the present now, and no one, save for the woman who had mistaken Harry for James would have to be the wiser.
‘That was incredible!’ Marc said. ‘Do we have to go back just yet? There’s so much we could still explore.’
Harry thought about this for a moment before shaking his head and deciding that it was far too risky, especially at Hogwarts, where Dumbledore would soon be returning to his office. It was incredibly tempting though.
‘Well, is there somewhere else we could go?’ he asked. ‘I would say my house so that you could see my old room and stuff, but it’s quite far from here,’ he laughed. This gave Harry an idea.
‘We could go to my old house,’ he offered. ‘I’ve always wanted to see it. I don’t really remember it at all.’
‘That would be great, but how do you propose we get there? Time Turners don’t transport across distance, only time,’ Marc reminded him.
Harry bit his lip as he thought about how he could pull this off. ‘I suppose we could sneak back down to the entrance hall. Then we’ll have to get back outside and off Hogwarts grounds to Hogsmeade. Once we’re there we could take the Knight Bus safely. Hmm,’ he paused, ‘That’s assuming it was around in this time.’
‘That sounds awfully complicated,’ Marc said with a smile. ‘How about we just use a Portkey?’
Harry laughed loudly, ‘A Portkey? Right, because we learned that in first year Transfiguration,’ he said sarcastically before biting his lip again in thought.
‘Well, I know how to do it,’ Marc told him with a grin, making him snap his head back toward him.
‘What? How?’ he asked incredulously, not believing that a fifth year could understand the complexities of such a charm.
‘My parents used them all the time. My mum hates travelling by Floo and refuses to apparate. Afraid she’d be splinched or something,’ he explained to Harry. ‘Meant that I got a crash course in Portkeys by age nine.’
‘Even so, once the Ministry finds that we’ve made an illegal Portkey and trace your wand, we’ll be caught and then thrown in Azkaban for unauthorized time-travel,’ Harry told him disappointedly.
‘Well, I’m not even born yet, so chances are that my wand hasn’t been created yet. If the Ministry catches on to any strange magic, all they’ll find is the signature of a particular Unicorn. I think we’ll be alright. Plus we get to avoid all the paperwork normally associated with the darned things.’
Harry smiled at his friends ingeniousness before nodding his approval and giving him the address to the old Potter home.
‘Now we’ll have to use the Time Turner first. I’m not even born for another year and a half, so I won’t even have a room to show you. We could go ahead three years though, because I’d rather skip that blessed event.’ Both boys scrunched their faces in disgust at the thought.
Seconds later, Harry had turned the knob labelled ‘Y’ ahead twice. The boys experienced the same effect as their initial trip and once again found themselves alone in the Astronomy tower. Harry checked his watch before once again telling Marc the address.
‘We’ll have to hurry though, so that none of our dorm mates notice we’re gone. Ron will be furious if he finds out we left him behind.’
With that, Marc grabbed a discarded star chart from a shelf next to him and closed his eyes in concentration. Harry grabbed hold of the chart as well and Marc pointed his wand at it casting ‘Portus’. Harry felt the familiar sensation of a hook behind his navel as the two were swept away from Hogwarts castle and dropped haphazardly on a patch of grass somewhere else.
Harry was the first to orient himself and stand up, brushing his robes free of dirt and leaves. Marc soon joined him and the pair looked around. The first thing Harry noticed was a signpost several feet away marked Godric’s Hollow, and then turned to see what he had so often dreamed of in the past. Tucked in the corner of the tiny street was a welcoming cottage, hidden by many flowered shrubs and taller trees. The several windows of the inviting home were decorated in leaves, freshly fallen from the large boughs that hung nearby. Harry could see a well-kept garden running along the weaving stone path that led up to the front door. Sitting in front of the dark brown door, was a wonderfully carved Jack-O-Lantern, depicting a witch flying on a broomstick.
‘It seems really nice, Harry,’ Marc said and they started to walk toward the home. Harry saw a light on in one of the windows and wanted to see if he could perhaps see his parents again.
Aside from his old family home, there were only two other cottages on the cozy street, each near the edges of the crescent and tucked behind their own blankets of oaks and pines. Behind his home he could see woods stretching for miles and hills climbing toward the sky on both sides, leaving his home to be the focal point set in a small, yet graceful valley. Birds chirped, unseen from their perches in nearby trees, and owls hooted serenely as Harry and Marc walked up the stone path to get a closer look. Harry brushed his hand across a Lily as they stepped up to the window. Peering inside, they were greeted by a warm scene in a family room, where both James and Lily were seated peacefully talking to one another in front of the fire grate, a sleeping Harry in his mother’s arms.
‘Aw! It’s baby Harry,’ Marc teased, earning a punch to the arm.
The two continued to stare in for a while until the sudden interruption by two soft, popping noises back on the street. They both dove behind a large shrub with alarmingly yellow flowers and slowly parted the leaves to see who had arrived.
To Harry’s horror, he saw a dark cloaked figure followed by a short twitching one, both slowly approach the home. Harry fell backward opening and closing his mouth in disbelief as he felt his veins fill with ice and his mind race uncontrollably. His scar burned more fiercely than he had ever felt it before. Marc just stared at him, unsure of what was happening. Harry couldn’t believe what he had done; of all the nights, how could he have forgotten?
Halloween was not only the night his parents were married, but also the night they were murdered.
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