Chapter 24 : The Sisters Divine
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A/N Well here it is guys. Chapter 19 ready to go. Hope it's exciting enough for you, and I'm quite certain that the next one shall be. I believe Harry's time in the past is coming to a close, so i do hope you've all taken something from his travels. Enjoy and please review. Happy New Year everyone. : D Kyle
The next morning dawned bright and early, the promise of a better day filtering in through the half rotting ceiling above it’s prisoner’s. Harry stirred in his sleep as the fingers of light made their way into his eyes and slowly woke him. He opened his eyes and immediately found it strange that he could see everything around him clearly.
Stranger than that was that he was lying on a cold wooden floor, one of his roommates sitting across from him staring off oddly at the wall behind him. It took him a moment to realise why he was in the shrieking shack and then another to realise that he was already back in his human form. He reached out to pick up his glasses that lay on the floor several feet away.
‘When did I-’ Harry started to ask Remus when he reverted from his animagus form but the werewolf beat him to it having anticipated this very question.
‘About four in the morning,’ he smiled lightly. ‘It’s a good thing that potion worked or we wouldn’t be speaking right now.’ Remus took another moment to collect himself before standing and offering Harry a hand to pick himself up off the floor. ‘Thanks,’ he said, and nothing more. It was all that needed to be said.
‘Any time,’ Harry told him, unfortunately knowing that he would only be able to accompany him for two more nights with the available potion. After that, James and Sirius’ detentions would be over and they would surely join their friend during the next full moon. ‘Well, at least it looks nice enough today. Shall we go and enjoy what we can of it before lessons start. I’m actually quite famished.’
Remus smiled at him but Harry could see how strained it was. It was a look he often gave Ron and Hermione, and even the older Remus whenever they asked him if he was alright. He knew that Remus was far from ready to enjoy the day, and regretted even mentioning it now. Though the sun shone and the fresh air brought with it a chance for another day’s freedom, both Harry and Remus knew better as they would undoubtedly be returning to this very room in less than twelve hours.
He refrained from giving the sandy-haired boy a sorry look, as he knew from experience that it was the one thing that he himself hated most. Instead he smiled at him as though nothing was out of the ordinary and gave his robes a brush before heading toward the door.
‘Let’s go!’ he said to Remus loudly, ‘I don’t care if you’re tired. I’m hungry!’
Harry grinned widely then, as Remus gave him one of the largest and most genuine smiles he had ever seen from him. The grey-eyed boy shook his head with a laugh and slapped Harry on the back as they walked back up to the castle. Harry was really glad at that moment that Remus knew his secret, making him feel slightly less lonely than usual. If one person from the past other than the Headmaster had to know, he would definitely have picked Remus.
For the most part Harry’s day was uneventful, mainly filled with lessons and meals with the Marauders and Marc. He spent an hour talking with Marc during one of their mutual breaks and found that, though he would not directly say it, the curly-haired boy was far from ready to go home. Harry was glad to see it, as he did not want to go home any time soon, and punished himself mentally for half-wishing that Dumbledore not find a way to send them back.
Harry and Remus exchanged knowing glances and small smirks all day long as James and Sirius apologised profusely, but in secret, for leaving him on his own the night before. The last class of the day was Potions, and Harry could not wait for it to begin. He had not been face to face with professor Sharpbane since yesterday and he could not wait until she was forced to give him a mark in front of the whole class.
Harry rushed through the dungeon hallways, unable to express to his friends why he was so eager to get to class, Sirius calling him nutters the whole way there. He finally got there and rushed to his seat next to Snape, barely able to contain a grin that he wanted everyone to see. Professor Sharpbane was giving him an odd look today and he could not decipher exactly what it meant. She almost seemed to be gloating about something.
Harry said hello to Snape and got a curt nod in return. Turning to his mother a few rows over, she gave him a quick wink and a small smile, clearly waiting for the same thing as him.
The lesson was soon started and Harry figured that professor Sharpbane would want to wait until the end of the class to give them their bonus mark, saving herself from praising him in front of everyone. He smiled lightly as he and Snape worked away on their antidotes for some of the more gruesome poisons invented in the last five years. Things went well and then finally near the end of lesson, Professor Sharpbane gave Harry a malicious look before standing before the class and pulling what Harry knew to be their potion sample out of her robes pocket.
‘Class, I felt it may be prudent to show you all something that I found very interesting.’ She started calmly and with a rather normal look on her face, but Harry could tell that something was not right. ‘This growth potion in my hands is an example of what can happen to a great potion maker when they are surrounded by those of incompetent natures and those with little skill. I believed this to be true, so I tested this theory in allowing our very talented Mister Snape to brew a draft alongside a fairly competent student,’ she looked briefly toward Lily, ‘and then one with very little talent.’
Harry could not believe what he was hearing, and he could feel his hatred for this woman bubbling up inside him. He watched incredulously with his mouth slightly ajar, as the Potions Mistress insulted him, and then looked over to see the furious and reddening face of his dark-haired partner. He must have felt severely embarrassed.
‘Mister Portus’ capabilities in Potions limited the overall effect, bringing the quality of what surely would have been a delightfully effective potion to this less than mediocre vial of sludge you see before you.’ With a final smirk and flick of her wand, she emptied the vial and placed it back on her table. ‘Miss Evans, you will receive an exceeds expectations for this assignment as your work remained stable as I had assumed it would, and Mister Portus, you shall receive an acceptable as it was undoubtedly you who determined the outcome of the project.’
Harry glared at the dark-haired woman more fiercely than he could ever remember having glared at Snape, wanting nothing more than to hex her with all he could. Something inside him wanted to lash out and strike the dark-haired woman, making Harry feel very uncomfortable as he breathed heavily in his seat. Snape on the other hand was seething silently in his, trying his best to ignore the snickers from Sirius and James.
‘Now unfortunately Mister Snape, you have earned your first acceptable in this course, having been so terribly affected by Portus’ work. While it was not you who ruined the draft, you should have been able to spot your partners’ errors.’
Snape began to shake slightly in his seat, and Harry could tell that he had never been so humiliated in a class before. Especially not by his favorite professor and definitely not for his favorite pass time, something at which he was nearly perfect. Harry could not let this vile woman get away with punishing Snape just to get at him.
‘This is ridiculous!’ Harry cried at the professor as she made her way to her desk.
She stopped abruptly and turned back toward him, the look on her face one of incredulity and deep loathing. It was evident that she had never been challenged before, and Harry was beginning to wonder if he had been foolish in standing up to her.
‘What did you say Portus?’ she asked in an evenly low voice, daring him to say it again. Harry found himself incapable of rational thought and continued the attack.
‘I said this is ridiculous!’ a few students gasped and others shook their heads as though he was crazy. ‘You can’t punish Lily and Severus just because you don’t like me!’
‘That is quite enough Portus! Fifteen points from Gryffindor for your little outburst and don’t ever interrupt me again or I’ll-’
‘Or you’ll what?’ Harry shouted at her, now extremely red in the face and unable to control his emotions. ‘Take away more points from me like you do every lesson anyway? Or will you give me detentions just so that we spend more time together? Or maybe you’ll have me make potions in class and then grade them poorly and give your half-witted opinions on them as usual.’
‘How dare you!’ she roared now, creating such a noise as Harry had never heard in the dungeons before. ‘How dare you question my abilities, when you cannot even brew a simple growth draft?’ she added having lowered her voice to nearly a shriek now.
‘I dare because it’s the plain truth,’ Harry snarled. ‘If you had half a brain in that overly large head of yours, you would have found that that potion is damn near perfect and that I am more than capable of creating any draft you set for me. Unfortunately, it would appear that your pride prevents you from noticing these sorts of things, but still allows you to play favorites with your own house. Funny how that works, is it not professor?’ Harry said, now speaking through a clenched jaw and waiting for the moment that he knew she would snap.
‘GET OUT!’ she screamed at him, pointing her wand in his direction, her chest heaving heavily as she tried to control her breathing and failed. ‘I never want to see you in-’
‘Oh, and like I do!’ Harry cut her off again, not believing the words that came out of his own mouth. ‘I’d rather hug a lethifold and kiss a blast-ended skrewt than look at you for another minute you wretched hag!’
This said, he grabbed his things and headed for the door, every head tracking his movement as he went. Had he not been so angry, he would have laughed at the dumbstruck expressions on his parents’ faces. He turned back toward her before exiting the dungeon, an icy glare on his face as he looked her up and down in disgust.
‘Oh, and don’t bother going to the Headmaster, I’ll tell him myself. If I’m lucky, he might play favorites the way you do!’
Harry quickly turned and rushed from the room, feeling very immature and extremely frustrated. He did not stop walking until he reached the gargoyle outside the Headmaster’s office and leaned back against the stones of the wall. Never before had he treated a professor in such a manner, and never before had he enjoyed speaking that way to anyone; not even Malfoy.
Now he leaned heavily on the wall, slightly out of breath and very tired, but he had not felt this good since before the loss of his Godfather. Something had been wrong in that classroom to make him act the way that he had.
He had felt different, as though something inside him was changing, moving, wanting to get out. He felt the way he had when he lost control at the Dursley’s in the summer when uncle Vernon had spoken ill of Sirius. Harry sighed and sunk further down the wall. How he wished Sirius were there to help him now. He had never needed help more than this instant, and now he felt more alone than ever before.
Something was wrong with him, something severely and completely wrong, and he had no control over it. This was now the third time it had happened, the second time causing him to use an unforgivable curse. He could not tell the Headmaster this, but he would need to tell him something, or risk expulsion from the one place he could call home.
He stood up and took a breath before looking up at the smirking gargoyle and saying ‘sugar quill.’
‘I’m afraid this is quite serious Harry,’ Dumbledore said to him in his regular calm voice, irritating Harry beyond reason.
How could he be so calm about something so important? And why did he feel the need to inform him that it was serious. It was as though he thought him completely daft.
‘I know, and I don’t know what to do,’ Harry said in as calm a voice as he could muster. ‘I’ve been going to my Occlumency lessons and I’ve trained harder than ever before with professor Sharp-’ he paused, unwilling to speak her name, the anger still fresh in his mind. ‘My thoughts have not been invaded by Voldemort for some time now sir, and that bothers me. Has he found a new way to get into my mind? It seems the only reasonable explanation for my actions today,’ he tried to reason, still unsure of why he had acted so darkly.
Dumbledore gave a small nod in response, his blue eyes twinkling as brightly as ever.
‘I’m afraid that is quite possible Harry, and if it is the case, I’m afraid Morganna will have to stop training you in Occlumency. It will not do to have her harmed by trying to help you block your mind. You can continue on your own for now, and I will see what I can find out for you.’
Harry nodded slowly, unpleased by this course of action, but at least relieved by the end of his Occlumency lessons, not that he would ever have gone again after today’s performance. He stopped at the door before exiting the round office.
‘Uh professor? What am I to do about Potions lessons? I think it would be an understatement to say that an apology just won’t do.’ He looked away from the Headmaster, feeling terribly ashamed for his actions, and still more ashamed for not wanting to apologise. Dumbledore smiled.
‘It’s no worry Harry. I will speak with Morganna, and explain what I can. In the mean time, I suggest you do some extra reading in the library and avoid the dungeons for the next little while.’
Harry gave him a weak smile before leaving the office and closing the heavy door behind him.
He wandered the halls of Hogwarts for the next little while, trying to clear his mind before the classes were let out for the day. He had never felt more troubled or more free before. It was as though every last bit of fear and doubt had fled his thoughts during his tirade with professor Sharpbane, leaving him with nothing but a clear mind and a sense of accomplishment. Everything he had been worrying about seemed to have vanished, and now he felt carefree and almost happy, but deep down he knew it was wrong. He wondered how long it would last, and then decided he did not care as long as it was happening right now.
At six o’clock he entered the Great Hall for dinner and pretended not to notice all of the faces studying him, and the whispers that travelled the room about what he had done not two hours before. Looking over at his table he found that Sirius and James were nowhere to be found, and hoped that professor Sharpbane had not taken his outburst out on them. Peter also seemed to be missing, but that did not bother him in the slightest. He casually made his way over to the Gryffindor table and took a seat across from Marc, who looked slightly bothered and definitely under the weather.
‘What’s going on Marc? Something troubling you?’ he asked as he reached for something to fill his plate. A large platter of minced meat pies found its way into his hands.
‘I was going to ask you the same thing,' Marc said quietly. ‘Honestly Harry, calling your professor half-witted and biased and then telling her you’d rather kiss a dragon! That’s not like you at all.’
‘I said a blast-ended skrewt,’ Harry corrected him and took a sip of his Pumpkin juice.
‘Whatever, it doesn’t matter what dangerous beast you used. The point is you could be expelled for something like that. Where would you go then?’ Marc said this urgently and grabbed Harry’s head to make him look at him. ‘I’m serious Harry! Are you even listening?’
‘Yes, I’m sorry alright. I’ll try not to say anything nasty to any other professors.’ Marc looked less than convinced. ‘You don’t understand Marc,’ Harry lowered his voice as he tried to explain what had happened. ‘I didn’t yell at professor Sharpbane, as much as would like to have, I had no control over it. It just happened. I know it sounds crazy but I’m glad that it happened, because now I feel great. I think it’s just what I needed.’ Marc could tell that he did not even believe what he was saying.
‘What do you mean?’ Marc asked, trying to understand what could have caused such an outburst.
‘Well, it just seems that since the beginning of the year, everything is just piling up and I just keep shifting it to the back of my mind. I’ve been doing that for nearly six years now. I guess I was just bound to snap eventually. And I’m certain that professor Black can be held accountable for at least half of what’s been building up. I swear that compared to her and Sharpbane, Snape really is a harmless old git.’
Marc just stared at him for a moment, looking as though he could not decide what to say, and then he just nodded and started to pile food onto his plate as well.
Harry enjoyed the rest of dinner, watching all of the students around him chat excitedly about the upcoming Quidditch match, Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff this upcoming Saturday. It would be the second match of the year, and Harry supposed it would be fun to watch, even if he was not able to play.
He and Marc talked after dinner for a while about who they thought would win, but Marc had to leave quickly after telling Harry that he was going to be sick. Harry tried to go to the Hospital Wing with him, but the younger boy told him that he wished to be alone, and that Madam Pomfrey’s coddling would be more than enough attention for one night.
Realising the time, Harry agreed and hurried to the Gryffindor dormitories to pack a quick overnight bag before slipping under his invisibility cloak and going back down to the common room. There he found a very ill-looking Remus waiting impatiently and constantly checking his watch before finally getting up with a defeated look on his face, and heading to the porthole. Harry followed him silently out and then waited until they were around a corner to call out his name.
‘Moony,’ he hissed loudly. The werewolf stopped abruptly and turned in the direction of where Harry stood concealed by the cloak.
Harry watched with amusement as the sandy-haired boy sniffed the air before smiling slightly.
‘What are you hiding under that old thing for Prongs?’ he asked and swatted out an arm toward the cloak, successfully reaching it and pulling it from Harry’s form. His eyes widened slightly at seeing Harry and not James.
‘What are you doing with James’ cloak, and why are you wearing his robes again? I already told you I won’t fall for that.’ He said tiredly. ‘I thought you weren’t coming so I started to the shack on my own.’
‘I’ll explain in a minute,’ Harry said, quickly giving him the second bottle of Wolfsbane to drink. ‘Just drink that and follow me. We’re going to stay somewhere a little nicer tonight. I don’t know about you, but my back just can’t take that floor for another night.’
Remus arched an eyebrow but drank the potion and did what he was told as Harry put the cloak back on and let his rucksack hang out so that he could still be followed. He led the light-haired boy up to the seventh floor and did not stop until he reached a blank portion of wall across from one of his favorite troll paintings. Remus said nothing the first three times Harry’s rucksack seemingly floated back and forth in front of the stone wall, but was about to say something on its fourth flight before a polished brown door appeared out of nowhere.
Harry smiled at the look on his face. Apparently the Marauders had yet to find this special room. He turned the brass knob and pushed it forward, walking inside and removing his cloak while his friend followed him in. Once the door was securely closed and locked, Harry looked around the Room of Requirement and found that, as usual, it was set up for exactly what he needed.
Before the two boys was what could have been a cross between their common room and their dormitories, basically leaving a gold and crimson room with two four-posters and a fire-grate with a roaring fire crackling away in it. Harry walked over to the nearest bed and laid his bag down before walking over to the fire and sitting in one of the squashy armchairs in front of it. Remus still stood shocked in front of the locked door.
‘You can come in you know. This is your bedroom for the night.’ Harry said with a grin, loving this new shocked expression he was now constantly seeing on Remus’ face. He would have to remember it in the future, as he would likely never see it again.
‘What is this place?’ the stunned werewolf asked as he walked into the room and took a seat in the armchair opposite Harry, still looking around at everything in the room.
‘I call it the room of requirement and it is just that. This room will provide you with exactly whatever scene it is you need, when you need it most. I can’t even tell you how invaluable it had been to me in my time. And you seem to like it then too.’ He laughed when he saw the calculating look in Remus’ eyes as he tried to figure out if he had just been told something significant.
‘It’s completely safe while you’re taking the potion, and I think it’s the only room in the whole castle where nobody’s going to find you. I figured you might like to sleep on a soft bed near a warm fire for a change of pace. Even if it is only for two nights.’
‘You just wanted to sleep in a warm bed,’ Remus joked, but Harry could see the gratitude on his features.
Harry quickly explained to the boy about having inherited his father’s cloak, and then mentioned the Marauders Map, getting a large grin from the light-haired boy in front of him.
‘We’ve worked hard on that you know. I can’t wait to add this room to it,’ Remus said as he stared into the fire.
The pair talked about the upcoming Quidditch match and the latest curses they had been learning in Defense class for the next little while, but it was soon interrupted by Remus’ transformation and Harry was forced to change into his Animagus form for precaution. After a couple of hours, Harry reverted to his human form and made sure that Remus was fast asleep on his bed before heading over to his own and crawling in. He had barely laid his head down when sleep overtook him, not able to wait to pull him into some new imaginative world of dreams.
Harry found himself strolling through Hogwarts castle, no direction or destination in mind. He passed by many of the portraits, waving and discussing this or that and then looked in on some of the classrooms. He found professor McGonagall teaching in her Charms classroom and then Hagrid teaching Transfiguration as he always did. Everyone seemed so happy as he walked along the corridors, whistling away as he went. Finally he reached the Divination tower and started to make his way up the old rung ladder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Ron and Hermione.
Flipping the trapdoor open, he stepped in to find Marc and the rest of the Order listening attentively to the Divination lesson that professor Snape taught so well. He turned back to close the trapdoor before joining his friends and colleagues but stopped when he saw a shadow coming up the tower stairs.
His eyes widened as the ragged and bloodied form of his father came into view, all of his happiness instantly fleeing him. James staggered up to the rung ladder and started to pull himself up, reaching for a hand from Harry who frantically reached for him and pulled quickly, trying to avoid what he knew was coming.
For a brief moment he thought he might have been quick enough, but then he watched in horror as a clawed limb clasped around his fathers leg and pulled him downward, James’ eyes widening in fear as he was pulled out of Harry’s grasp. Everything had gone silent around him as he watched his father scream something, but Harry knew exactly what he was saying. He distinctly remembered having this dream before and knew that he had to close the trapdoor quickly before it was too late.
He whispered a quick tear-filled apology to his father before grabbing hold of the trapdoor and using all of his weight to slam it shut. It slammed shut with a hard thud to Harry’s shoulder, but then unfortunately continued to swing downward, throwing Harry through the opening and down onto the stone floor below.
To Harry’s misfortune, when he opened his eyes he did not see the divination tower, but a very familiar atrium lined in black marble and filled with dozens of robed figures.
Harry stood up quickly and leaned on a wall where he was covered in shadow. He started to beat himself on the forehead with the hopes of waking up, not wanting to live through another of Voldemort’s Death Eater gatherings. He only managed to get a slight headache before the monster in question walked into the room, all of his followers falling to their knees in deep bows. Harry sneered.
‘You will all be performing a specific task tonight,’ the Dark lord’s voice echoed loudly in the marble room, causing Harry to wince as he stepped closer to the ring of black clad figures. ‘Things are going very well thus far, and I expect everything to continue this way. If anything or anyone disappoints me I’m certain that I do not need to tell you what the consequences would be.’ Nobody spoke a word, the intense fear in the room almost visible.
‘Now, before you leave me to perform your tasks we have something to take care of.’ His lips curled upwards in a smirk, making Harry want to smack it off his face. ‘Step forward,’ he said coldly, and Harry watched as two short figures stepped toward him, both looking slightly hesitant. Harry realised they must have been the recruits asked of Malfoy during the last meeting.
‘Lift your sleeves,’ Riddle commanded. ‘Prepare to devote your life to one master and no one else.’
Two pale arms were exposed from beneath folds of dark fabric, both ready to be marred by filth and pain. Riddle placed the tip of his wand on the first figure’s forearm and whispered an incantation that Harry could not hear. The recipient of the curse let out a throat-tearing scream as he fell to his knees in pain, Riddle’s wand still connected to his forearm. Finally the wand was lifted, and where it had touched the follower’s skin a pitch black skull now lay, a serpent protruding from its mouth. The Dark Mark.
The other boy was subjected to the same pain and soon Riddle’s ranks had swollen by two more Death Eaters. Sadly, Harry knew that there would be at least three more by Christmas time, making him once again wish that he could warn Snape and perhaps turn in Pettigrew. Riddle gave his orders to groups of his followers and each of them disapparated as soon as they could, clearly intent on escaping their master’s presence. Finally it was down to three followers left, and Harry was quite certain as to who two of them would be.
Sure enough Harry heard Regulus Black’s voice answer his master’s commands before disapparating to bring pain and suffering to some poor ministry official. Next was Lucius Malfoy.
‘I am growing impatient Mister Malfoy. I told you to have me all of my followers by the New Year and you have only delivered two of them,’ Riddle’s voice stated dangerously.
‘Yes my Lord. But as you pointed out, I have until the end of December-’
‘Do not tell me what I said,’ Riddle’s voice echoed in the hall as he lifted his wand to the blond-haired man. ‘You do not tell me anything. Crucio!’
Malfoy’s form writhed on the ground in pain, his screams filling the air as the Dark Lord stared amusedly at him. He ended the curse rather quickly, Harry noticed, and gave him a warning before dismissing him. Now there was one figure left.
‘Now my dear, I assume that you have good news for me?’ he said to the girl before him.
‘Of course my Lord,’ she bowed to him again. ‘I shall be able to collect what you need in no time at all. I will have all the resources needed in but a week.’
‘Very good. I knew you would be able to do this. Do not prove me wrong, for I am never wrong,’ he said, and narrowed his eyes at the slight figure in front of him.
‘No my Lord,’ the girl’s voice answered him. ‘I will be in contact at the next week’s end.’ One final bow marked her stay as she quickly disapparated, leaving Riddle and his equal alone.
Harry merely stared at the man standing not ten feet in front of him. He felt a deep and irreversible loathing for him, but had no uncontrollable urge to cause him pain this time. He knew he was unable first of all, and then there was the fact that he had learned nothing infuriating during this dream. Instead he watched as the tall man walked to his large seat near a fireplace and took a seat.
Harry was not sure what to do. Why was his dream not ending? He found himself walking over to the high-backed chair to the fireplace, intent on seeing what it was that Riddle was doing. He stopped for a moment when he heard hissing and watched as a large snake slithered passed him and came to rest at its master’s feet. Harry shivered at the thought of being that large snake in one of his dreams, and continued to where he could see the front of the armchair.
He heard Riddle once again speaking Parseltongue to his pet and was surprised to hear that he spoke to it as a person, telling her how incompetent he found most of his followers. Harry finally looked up at Tom Riddle and gasped when he saw the bright green eyes that stared back at him. He caught himself on the mantelpiece as he fell backward, and gaped at what he saw.
There in the high backed chair, lightly soothing a ten-foot serpent was a raven-haired man with bright green eyes, round glasses and a lightning bolt scar on his forehead.
‘What’s the problem Harry?’ he heard his own voice call out from the person he was watching. ‘Don’t you like who we’ve become?’
The next morning when Remus awoke, he found Harry sitting in one of the armchairs near the fire. He went over to see if he was ready to go to class but found that Harry looked terrible, dark circles under his eyes, and an extremely distracted look on his face.
‘Are you alright Harry?’ he asked, already knowing that he was not, and knowing what response he would get.
‘What? I mean yeah, I’m fine,’ Harry answered when he realised he was being spoken too.
Remus knew he was lying, having told his friends the same thing on numerous occasions, each time meaning that he wanted to be left alone. He decided that if Harry wanted to tell him anything, he would do it when he was ready.
‘Alright, then let’s go to breakfast.’
The pair collected their things and left the Room of Requirement, both checking the corridor for people before leaving. They walked to the Great Hall in silence, both satisfied with the quiet, and entered the hall for breakfast, each table already filled with students moving about and chatting about unfinished assignments and of course Quidditch. Only two more days until the match.
Harry took a seat across from Marc and the other Marauders and started to pile eggs onto his plate. He noticed that Marc was looking slightly better than yesterday, and was surprised that Madam Pomfrey had released him from her clutches so early. He also noticed that Dumbledore was gazing over at him and Remus knowingly, making him shift uncomfortably in his seat. Why did the Headmaster always know everything?
The day sped by in a whirlwind of lectures and note taking, interrupted only by lunch and the constant questions from students asking Harry whether he had really told off the Potions Mistress or not. Harry was getting sick of being asked the same question, and was thoroughly annoyed when Sirius decided to hang a banner in the Gryffindor common room, labelling him as the bravest Gryffindor of the year. Of course it flashed between the words bravest and dumbest, but Harry knew to expect that.
Little of the information that he learned in class, or the conversations that he had in between them, stayed in his head as he was constantly toying with different theories of what his latest nightmare could possibly have meant. He had learned nothing new or informative for the Order, and he was certain that what he saw could not be the present, but what did that leave? The future?
He absolutely refused to believe that he could ever become something so terrible and inhumane, pushing the idea to the back of his mind, which had so conveniently been emptied the day before. He was just starting to wonder if perhaps Voldemort had found a way to penetrate his mind and feed him false information, when Lily brought him back to reality, pulling him out of his thoughts and pointing out to him that Transfiguration was over. She also expressed her feelings about his concentration in class; apparently McGonagall felt the same way as she gave him an extra essay to write on the specific technique to transfigure a pig into a rhinestone-studded goblet.
The pair walked down to the Great Hall together for dinner and Harry found that he was able to abandon all thoughts of his nightmares when he was around Lily. She was telling him stories of her, Sophie and Gwendolyn’s adventures at Hogwarts up to now, and granted they were nothing in comparison to his own, he was thrilled to hear all about them.
Harry sat with her at the Gryffindor table and they were soon joined by Gwendolyn and Sophie, and then eventually the Marauders and of course the Prewett twins. For the first time in a few days, Harry shared some real laughs and exchanged stories with people that he considered friends, and everyone seemed to simply get along. It was an event, Harry decided, that was long overdue. Even Lily and James were civil to one another, either one only insulting the other once or twice throughout the whole meal, and James only asked her for a date three times.
Dumbledore stood as dinner came to a close and the entire hall fell silent, each student keen on hearing whatever message he had to deliver. Everyone waited patiently while he took a sip from his goblet before speaking.
‘I am pleased to inform you all,’ he began with a wide smile, ‘that we will be having the Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge staying with us for the next week.’
Harry almost choked on a sip full of pumpkin juice at hearing the name, managing to spray Marc on the other side of the table. Marc gave him a panicked glance as the rest of the school turned their attention to the Great Hall’s entrance doors where a squat man in lime green dress robes and a bowler hat stood.
‘Undersecretary Fudge will be monitoring the visit from Durmstrang to ensure that our fine wizarding schools are compatible for all those students involved and to ensure that our guests feel welcomed by our Ministry. Please help me in welcoming him to our school.’ The hall was then filled with applause as the forty-year-old, short man walked up to the staff table and took a new seat to Dumbledore’s left.
Harry studied Fudge for a moment, wondering just how long it would be before the man before him became such an oblivious fool, but was distracted as the man made to pick up his goblet and it sprang to life. All of the students watched as the Undersecretary’s goblet leapt into action and dove at the man’s head, managing to attach itself by it’s newly formed teeth to the brim of his bowler.
The entire student body could not help but laugh at the ridiculous sight of the Ministry official sitting there while his goblet gnawed contentedly on his hat. Laughter rang through the hall louder than Harry had heard in a long while, but died down suddenly when McGonagall got to her feet, a look on her face that would easily have repelled the Ridikulus charm.
She instantly looked over to the Gryffindor table and narrowed her eyes in James and Sirius’ places.
‘Misters Potter and Black, you will be serving another month’s detention starting tomorrow!’
‘WHAT!’ James had leapt to his feet in outrage. ‘But we haven’t done anything!’
‘Honest professor,’ Sirius was now on his feet too, ‘I wish we had, but we didn’t so we had better not be punished for this. I don’t mind detention if it’s warranted, but this is just not fair!’
McGonagall was readying herself to reply when Dumbledore spoke again.
‘I do believe that our young pranksters are telling the truth. I have never seen them deny performing a wonderful bout of magic in six years, even if it meant detention. Besides, if I remember correctly, we do not teach the animation charm until seventh year, and even then not many are able to perform it. Is that not correct professor?’ he said in his always calm voice, making most of the students laugh quietly to themselves.
McGonagall seemed to think about it for a moment before her eyes widened and she moved her gaze up the Gryffindor table a little higher.
‘Gideon and Fabian Prewett,’ she shouted. ‘How dare you make a mockery of this school in the presence of a Ministry official? You are seventh years and are supposed to set an example. Especially you Gideon, you are Head Boy. Your duties are-’
‘I still do not believe you have the right culprits Minerva,’ Dumbledore once again stopped his deputy Headmistress, only to have her turn to him speechless. She turned back to the crowd of students and scanned them before turning back to him at a loss. It appeared as though she could not single out anyone else who would or could do such a thing.
‘Now, I do not believe this is any cause for alarm as no one was injured. Are you alright Undersecretary?’
‘Yes, I do believe I will survive Dumbledore, however my hat is another story,’ he said, pointing to his hat now on the table where it was still being gnawed on by his goblet, bits of drool now dripping from the table. Another spout of laughter filled the room. ‘Besides, it shows that one of your students has quite a way with magic if they are able to perform an animation spell. Those are three difficult incantations to say in such a time frame. I would very much like to meet the student who is able.’
McGonagall’s eyes widened in realisation as he said this, and Harry noticed the significant looks she shared with professors Flitwick and Sprout.
‘Very well Cornelius. I’m sure they would not mind,’ the Headmaster said with a small smile. ‘Ladies, if you please?’
Harry watched in confusion as three girls stood up from their tables, each from a different house. The first from Hufflepuff, her blonde hair pulled under a frilly hat as she made her way to the front of the room. The second from the Ravenclaw table, her blonde hair pulled back tightly in a bun and her wand held securely behind her ear. Finally the third stood up from the end of Gryffindor table, her hair held loosely atop her head by an elastic band.
Once all three were standing in front of the staff table, the one from the Ravenclaw table pulled her wand from behind her ear and gave it a quick wave, saying ‘trio aperecium,’ and Harry watched in astonishment as all three girls hair fell about their shoulders in wavy blonde locks and their uniforms all became matching emerald dress robes. At the same time they all flicked their wands toward the Undersecretary’s hat, releasing the goblet and repairing the damage.
‘Our apologies Undersecretary,’ the Hufflepuff girl said.
‘Please forgive us Undersecretary,’ the Gryffindor said.
‘Welcome to Hogwarts Undersecretary,’ the Ravenclaw said.
All three girls bowed their heads with sweet smiles and gave small curtsy’s before looking back up at Fudge. The future Minister for Magic looked at them for a moment before smiling broadly and then clapping his hands together loudly. ‘Bravo girls, bravo! I’ll bet we could have a place for the lot of you in the Ministry one day,’ he said and watched as the girls smiled at him again.
‘Undersecretary,’ Dumbledore said with a smile, ‘Meet Phyllis, Violet, and Ivy Divine, Hogwarts’ resident triplets and seers.’
‘Seers?’ Fudge said, now looking far more pleased than before. ‘Well girls, I can certainly assure you that there will be a place in the Ministry for you upon graduation. And please call me Mister Fudge.’
‘Thank you, Mister Fudge. You will find yourself very pleased with work shortly.’
‘Pleasure, Mister Fudge. You shall certainly enjoy the development of Ministry Departments in the future.’
‘Glad to meet you Mister Fudge. I excitedly wait for the day you become Minister.’
The students all began to laugh again as the girls all bowed once more before receiving a wink from the Headmaster and returning toward their tables. Fudge seemed to enjoy the show they put on and obviously took what they said as a joke and nothing more than a spectacle. Harry on the other hand knew that at least one of those comments would hold true, and Dumbledore certainly seemed to be enjoying the whole affair as he quickly winked at Harry.
Violet the Ravenclaw stopped halfway to her seat to give the undersecretary one last message. ‘Oh, Mister Fudge? Do watch your step tonight. Things are always amiss under the blue moon.’
As soon as this was said a mad whisper ran through the hall and Harry watched as the colour in Fudge’s face slowly drained. Students started to file out of the hall as dinner was now over, but Harry continued to watch Fudge, unsure of what violet’s message could have meant. It appeared from his reaction that the undersecretary knew exactly what it meant.
Harry was pulled up from his seat by James and Sirius, both boys keen on planning a new set of pranks for the next night. Tonight was to be their last night of detention, and then it was back to the drawing board and then the corridors of Hogwarts. Harry turned to get Marc but found that he was speaking with the Headmaster, and assumed that he was finding out if he was any closer to getting them home.
Harry walked with the Marauders back to the common room, James, Sirius and Peter laughing about some new prank they had devised, while Remus looked highly disturbed and on edge. Sure he would soon be undergoing the werewolf transformation, but he looked far more harassed than usual.
‘I forgot my books in the Great Hall,’ Harry called to the planning Marauders. ‘Would you mind helping me to get them Remus?’
‘Yeah, no problem. We’ll see you later on then,’ he called after the others and got a wave as they continued, all of them too busy to pay much attention. As soon as they were out of earshot he turned back to Harry.
‘You can’t stay with me tonight. It won’t be safe. And I’m not going to take the potion.’
‘What?’ Harry asked, not understanding why he would give up his sanity so easily.
‘I can’t explain it right now, but you have to trust me. Just let me spend the night alone in the shrieking shack and I’m sure everything will turn out just fine,’ he said in a strained voice, the onset of pain just reaching him.
‘Does this have anything to do with Violet’s warning for Fudge?’ Harry asked quickly and watched as the werewolf’s eyes flashed in surprise for half an instant.
‘No, of course not,’ he responded far too quickly. ‘I just have a feeling is all. I need to have a normal transformation tonight, and for that I need to be alone.’
Harry was far from convinced that he was telling the truth, but decided that there was little point in arguing and simply nodded his agreement. Remus thanked him quickly before telling him that he would see him in the morning and heading toward the entrance hall once more.
Three hours later, Harry was still wandering around the corridors for what felt like the hundredth time in the last week, feeling more confused and bothered than he had in weeks. Things were starting to become slightly complicated in this time, and he was really missing Hermione’s intellect and Ron’s support. He found himself hoping for a moment that Dumbledore could get them home today.
Harry continued to wander Hogwarts’ halls, unsure of what to do, as all of his friends were either in detention or becoming monsters. Perhaps he would run into Marc along his travels. He made his way up to the owlery and looked around the large space for a while before realising that he had no owl and absolutely no one to write to. This reminded him of everything he had left behind, good and bad alike. Sure he had to face Voldemort in his own time, but there were so many other things and people that made an effort to outweigh the bad.
His thoughts turned to Fleur and he smiled as he pictured her face, her silvery blue eyes sparkling with mystery as she gazed upon him. That perfect smile she had when he approached her warmed him through, and then there was that thing she did with her Veela charm. He was not deeply affected by it for some reason, but whenever she was happy Harry felt an electric charge run through him, making every moment with her one of his favorites.
He wondered what she would have done when she learned he was missing. Would she have been devastated, or would she have simply moved on? Perhaps back to her former beau Bill Weasley? Harry tried not to think about it while he gazed out onto the grounds below, every blade of grass shining brilliantly under the full moon.
Harry looked up toward the sky and his eyes widened in wonder at what he saw. The moon looked twice its regular size from where it hung in the inky sky, and tonight for some reason it shone the saddest shade of blue he had ever seen. While beautiful the sight, Harry’s heart filled with sorrow as he stared up at the sun’s partner, every feeling of loneliness he felt being reinforced as a tortured howl rose from the distance.
He gripped the window’s edge and listened for the next little while to the haunting sounds of his friends howls, each one slightly different and yet each carrying the same painful message.
He finally said goodbye to the night sky and turned to head back to his common room, figuring he could catch up with Marc and possibly talk about researching time travel for a way home. He was ready to go home now, and he refused to let anyone tell him he could not.
Harry was walking down the fifth floor corridor when he ran into somebody that he had forgotten about. Lily saw him wandering and made her way over to him, a wide smile on her face as she flipped her hair over her shoulder and waved.
‘Hello Harry. What are you doing wandering about at this time of night?’ she asked, just making conversation and not really concerned about why he was out passed curfew.
‘Just thinking. What might you be doing out of bed?’ he flipped it on her and raised an eyebrow, happy to see the affronted look on her face.
‘In case you’ve forgotten Mister Portus,’ she said in her best authoritative voice, ‘I am a prefect. Don’t make me take away points from my own house.’
They both laughed out loud at this.
‘I’m actually just headed back to the common room. Care to join me, or do you still have a covert mission to carry out? Perhaps something that needs to be done in the dungeons?’ she asked, her tone now slightly amused.
‘Definitely not!’ Harry assured her. ‘Sirius and James might like a months detention, but I know when I’m beat.’
‘Good,’ she responded, ‘Then let’s go talk in the common room. I’m sick of wandering these halls. Nothing exciting ever happens worth reporting and I would much rather spend my evening somewhere warm.’
‘Agreed,’ Harry said with a smile and the pair headed down toward the third floor and the painting of the fat lady.
Harry was still slightly bothered by all of his thoughts, but that was quickly put on hold as they walked down the third floor corridor and the statue of the humpbacked witch slid forward emitting a frantic James and Sirius.
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