Categories > Books > Harry Potter > I, Alone
Chapter 4- Transfiguration
Harry James Potter sat and stared at the book before him, reading the words through once again. The young wizard had already read them often enough that he could nearly recite them verbatim.
"The transformation is directly influenced by bodyweight, viciousness, wand power, concentration as well as a final undefined element. It is only through the proper balance of all of these factors combined that a true transfiguration can occur."
It has to be that final element, he told himself. What else could I be missing?he pondered lost in thought. Harry raked his brain attempting to determine just what he was doing wrong and couldn't come up with a suitable answer to his dilemma. I am a wizard aren't I? The-Boy-Who–Lived suddenly had a thought that sent a cold shiver down his spine. What if they were wrong and I'm not a wizard at all? What if Hagrid came to the wrong house or someone mixed up my name for the right person? It never occurred to the distraught boy that he need only look in the mirror and spy the scar upon his brow to assure himself that there had been no mistake.
After Transfiguration he had went to the great hall and ate lunch like everyone else. Unlike everyone else though he had sat alone and didn't speak with anyone else at the table. Sitting as he was once again, nearest the head table, none of the other Slytherin's sat near him even. This was acceptable, even preferred, by Harry as it was what he was more or less used to. Meals throughout his life had never been a social time for him but rather asolitary prelude to dish washing. Being the only occupant of the cupboard under the stairs it wasn't like he had anyone else to speak to after all. At least during his final month at home he had the company of Hedwig to brighten his dismal existence.
Slipping an apple from a golden bowl upon the table, Harry dropped it into one of the many inner pockets of his robe before rising and walking briskly from the hall with his head cast down. He had as yet to determine just why there were so many pockets within the robe but he figured he would put them to good use. His greatest fear at that moment was that someone had seen him filch the food and would make him give it back. He had once been spied by his aunt filching food which had resulted in a whipping when his uncle had arrived home that evening as well as the loss of meals for an entire day. It wasn't an experience the dark haired boy was want to repeat ever again. Cheeks ablaze with both embarrassment and remorse, the would-be-wizard quickly left the great hall.
Harry made his way through the halls of the old spacious castle, glad that once again his class for the afternoon was not on one of the other floors. Emerald eyes looked up and read the plate next to the classroom door where his feet and the map within the student handbook had finally brought him.
Professor Cuthbert Binns
History of Magic
Harry knocked once and waited before knocking once again upon not receiving an answer. When no voice called out to him, emboldened by the silence, Harry cautiously opened the door and stuck his head in. The room was atypical classroom with empty desks neatly arranged, with a larger professor's desk at the head of the classroom situated before a wall covered by blackboards. The other three walls were lined with bookshelves, filled to bursting with books on history. It would appear that he was the first to arrive for their afternoon class.
Harry opened the door the remainder of the way before walking to the back desk in the further corner though closest to the large windows and taking his seat. No sooner had his bum hit the wooden chair than he had out his copy of A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch and his nose buried in it. As he sat and slowly read over the first few chapters other students arrived in pairs, groups or singularly as was their want. Those within Slytherin sat on the same side of the room as Harry had while those from Hufflepuff, the house they were sharing this class with, filled up the other side of the classroom.
When the entire class was present a ghost suddenly floated through the wall where the blackboards were and paused behind the professor's desk."I am Professor Binns and for the next five years, unless you decide upon pursuing your NEWT's, you will be attending my class." Professor Binns paused again, pursing his lips, looking like a wrinkled old tortoise. "I deal with facts and not conjecture or hearsay in my classroom. If there are no questions?" his semi-translucent bald head pivoted as he glanced about the room once. "Very well then, let us begin," he continued as he opened a transparent notebook and began to read verbatim in a single monotone voice.
Harry, having already read the book they were studying, cover to cover, listened for a moment before returning his attention to the transfiguration book opened before him on his desk.
'The caster must inherently know that what they see before them is what they are transfiguring the object to. If one does not believe that the end result is exactly what they want it to be then it will never happen. You must not only know but also see it as clearly as you see your own hand before you when you look at it.'
Harry sighed heavily, certain the answer to his problem resided in that one single paragraph, and yet like a birthday present from the Dursleys it constantly eluded him. The young wizard was nudged from his musings by the elbow of the person seated next to him. Harry looked up and was surprise to find Blaise Zabini seated next to him.
"Potter, tell me that isn't A History Of Magic you're reading so intently," Blaise whispered aghast at the possibility.
Harry grinned while shaking his head. Lifting the book and tilting it towards Blaise so he could see the page headers Harry replied, "No, Transfiguration."
"Almost as bad," Blaise said with a disgusted face only to grin as he nodded towards Crabbe and Goyle who were both asleep already."At least it will keep you awake in here which is a rarity." Both boys paused to look towards the front of the class where Professor Binns continued droning on.
Harry grinned noticing that even many of the Hufflepuff's were catching naps apparently. "I read the book before term started," Harry confided in the dark boy. "He's pretty much reading it word for word."
"Bloody hell, Potter!" Blaise swore loudly causing them both to look nervously towards the front of the class room. Professor Binns seemed to be in a world all his own and paid them, as well as the rest of the class, no mind. "What would ever cause you to read that book before school ever started?"
Harry shrugged slightly. "Better to read it then and save the time now for what I really want to study," he told his House mate with apointed glance to the book before him. "When you're reading it tonight I'll be studying transfiguration instead. With any luck I will be able to make that match a pin come next class," Harry told him with a degree of certainty in his voice.
Blaise could do little more than shake his head. "I can think of any number of things to do other than reading school books before term starts…all of them more exciting than what you did."
"Maybe," Harry conceded willingly. "I actually found it rather interesting," Harry stated only to see a look of surprise on the other boys face. "I didn't know there was a Wizarding world till Ireceived my Hogwarts letter," he quickly added in way of explanation."It was all new to me and vastly more interesting than my own life," Harry finished with.
"Blimey, didn't your folks tell you about anything?" Blaise asked in disbelief.
"Folks died when I was a babe," Harry reminded him."I was raised by relatives who were Muggles and didn't know anything."
"That must have been rough," Blaise whispered. Harry just shrugged noncommittally and Blaise got the impression that it wasn't atopic that the boy wanted to talk about. He, more so than most of the other first years, could well understand having a past that you'd prefer to forget. As the only son of a witch that had been married seven times in his short life, he had been on the receiving end of several unpleasant experiences which he was in no hurry to share or relive.
"Are you planning on trying out for the Slytherin Quidditch team?" Blaise enquired to change the subject.
"What's Quidditch?" Harry asked earning him an astonished look from his House mate.
"Were you really that sheltered, Potter?" Blaise asked only to see the puzzled expression on Harry face. "Blimey, those Muggles behavior must be criminal not have told you anything! Quidditch is the best…no, it's the /only/sport that matters. You play it upon brooms." Blaise supplied in the hopes it might ring a bell to the clueless boy.
"Never rode a broom," Harry told him, not certain he liked the idea of riding one or not. "Not sure I'd be any good at it."
"Look, do yourself a favor, mate. Go to the library after class and check out the book Quidditch Through the Ages and read it," Blaise advised. "Each house has their own team which plays against the other house teams. When Slytherin's team plays it is considered bad form not to be there to support them, especially as the winner gets points towards the House Cup. Read the book so that you don't embarrass me or yourself."
Harry nodded slightly. "I'll see if they have it. I had already planned on going to the library after class anyways," Harry informed the other boy. Upon seeing Blaise arch a brow in question Harry tilted up the Transfiguration book once again before replying, "I want to see if they have any other transfiguration books I can read."
"Pardon me if I don't share your enthusiasm for studying any topic other than the class I am in," Blaise said as he slid down in his seat to get into a more comfortable position. "Wake me up when class is over, Potter," he said as he closed his eyes. Harry just grinned and returned to studying the book in front of him.
After class Harry made his way to the third floor of Hogwarts, specifically to the doorway that the map within the student handbook stated was the main entrance to the library. The first thing he noticed upon stepping through the door was the overwhelming scent of parchment. It wasn't an unpleasant odor he decided but he knew no one would ever mistake this room for anything other than what it was, a wondrous library!
Extending from the main doors was a wide aisle that led up to alarge, dark, oak counter. Every several feet along the aisle were rows upon rows of shelves filled to bursting with thousands of books. Harry slowly walked along the aisle, his eyes wide and staring in disbelief at all the books. The young wizard could already see himself spending a great deal of time in a place like this. There were even walkways extended from balances on the second and third floors forming a lattice work of crossways above the spacious first floor of the library. How can anyone find anything here, he pondered as he neared the counter. There must be tens of thousands of books here! Harry had thought the public library back in the village of Little Whinging had been large; however it would scarcely take up more than a small corner of the room he now stood within.
"May I help you young man?" asked a sharp feminine voice which cut through his gawking and promptly brought his attention to the tall lady standing behind the counter. "Well speak up child. I haven't all day," she chided as two sixth or seventh year students, apparently library aids, grinned at his obvious nervousness.
Harry swallowed heavily trying to recall why he was here as all his mind seemed to be able to do was draw blanks to her question. The woman was dressed in dark somber colors with a black pointed witch's hat upon her head. She was thin, irritable and looked like an underfed vulture with a very severe and strict demure about her, Harry thought upon first observing her."P…pardon me Ma`am," Harry finally managed to stammer as he saw her brow crease in irritation at the delayed response to her inquiry.
"Madam Pince," the woman provided. "I am Hogwart's Librarian. What are you looking for, boy?"
"Yes Ma`am," Harry swallowed heavily only to see the woman's eyes narrow dangerously. "Madam Pince," he quickly corrected, breathing a sigh of relief upon seeing her features soften to a slight scowl which was normal for her…or so he assumed. "I was hoping I might find other books regarding Transfiguration."
"Do you not have your A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration?" Irma Pince enquired of the boy before her, who nodded sharply to indicate that he did. It was while his head shook that the dark bangs swung far enough out of the way that she saw the scar upon his forehead. "Perhaps if you told me what exactly you're looking for Mr. Potter," she asked, making an educated guess as to who it was before her based on what she had seen.
Harry shrugged slightly before replying. "I'm not really certain, Madam Pince," he confessed, not realizing that she had addressed him by name. "I'm hoping there is something that will further explain the process as well as the formula used in Transfiguration. Really, anything that might help me better understand the subject," he said looking up at the adult before him hopefully.
"I think I have the gist of what you need," Irma said as she stepped out from behind the counter. "Before we proceed you need be aware of something, Mr. Potter," she said pointing to a brass plague on the front of the counter. Harry leaned forward and read it.
'A warning: If you rip, tear, shred, bend, fold, deface, disfigure, smear, smudge, throw, drop, or in any other manner damage, mistreat, or show lack of respect towards these books, the consequences will be as awful as it is within my power to make them.'
Harry swallowed heavily, paling slightly after reading the warning. "I…I understand, Madam Pince," he told the Librarian a bit fearfully.
Irma eyed him shrewdly for a long moment till she was certain his understood the consequences should he not adhere to the rules within her library. "Very well then," she finally said crisply. "Follow me." Without further words she walked off with the dark haired boy hurrying to keep up with her long strides.
Harry soon discovered that the library itself was a series of shelves that ran every which way and he soon found himself completely lost within the maze of aisles, shelves, chairs and study tables. In far shorter time than Harry was certain it would have taken him, Madam Pince had four books in hand and led him to a wide open area which had several tables for studying.
"When you are finished with the books bring them to the counter and I'll show you how to return them to their proper places," the Librarian stated as she sat the books down upon a vacant table. "Will there be anything else, Mr. Potter?"
"No, thank you Madam Pince," Harry replied as he pulled out the chair nearest the books only to cringe at the seeming loud noise the wooden legs made upon the stone flooring. Slipping into the upholstered wooden backed chair he watch the woman walk away to quickly disappear among the rows of bookshelves. Harry lifted the first book from the pile and with a soft sigh opened it and began to read.
"I may have trouble falling asleep tonight," Tracey Davis proclaimed to her friend as she stepped into the great hall for the evening meal. "After that long nap in Professor Binns' classroom we might have to sit up for some time." The Slytherin girl grinned as she stretched as if she was just now waking up.
Daphne Greengrass chuckled at her friend's words, mostly because there was more truth in them than she cared to admit. She had tried to stay awake in the class yet the single monotone voice of the professor was like aSiren's song that lured most the class to slumber. "Maybe as a ghost he only has that one tone to work with," she speculated to her friend as they made their way to the Slytherin table and found seats for themselves.
The tables were filled with students of all years as they awaited the meal to start. The great hall was abuzz with chatter as well as laughter and good natured razzing that one would expect to find in a school, be it magical or Muggle. Above their heads the usual sea of lit candles floated beneath the darkened sky depicted as the ceiling of the great hall of Hogwarts.
"At least I know where I can catch up on my sleep," Stacey said with a chuckle as she slipped her arm through her best friends while playfully laying her head upon Daphne's shoulder as if it were a pillow."Binns' class will be the perfect place to snooze away the afternoon. Agirl can never have too much beauty sleep after all!"
"I wouldn't think Greengrass would need to be concerned about beauty sleep," suddenly spoke a sickening sweet voice from behind them causing both girls to pause abruptly. "She's already a pureblood, what more could she possible require?" Draco asked. At his young age the thought that a young girl might actually wish to be thought of as pretty hadn't really entered the young Malfoy's mind.
"How would you know what a girl fancies, Draco?" Tracey asked testily. "A little privacy to her conversation might be a good place to start though if you were wondering," Tracey snarled at the pale, light haired boy standing behind them currently wearing a smirk upon his face at his own self-perceived wittiness.
"I wasn't speaking to you, Davis," Draco threw back at the auburn haired Slytherin as his grey eyes flashed angrily at the intrusion into what he saw as a private conversation between himself and the Greengrass girl. "This is a conversation between us purebloods. You would do well to mind your betters!"
"Mr. Malfoy," Daphne spoke up finally without even turning to look at the boy behind her, "for someone who seems intent to garnish my attention you do a remarkably brilliant job of saying all the wrong things at the worst times. I would appreciate it if you would please find yourself a seat somewhere else as we're about to dine and I would hate to lose my appetite suddenly," she pointedly told him in a calm and even tone.
Draco shot Tracey a venomous glare but wisely held his tongue from saying anything further that would hurt his chances of speaking with the blonde witch. Left with the choice of standing there looking foolish or doing as told by the girl who had as yet to even glance in his direction, what could he do?Without further words Draco turned and made his way further down the table and found a spot across from where his cronies, Crabbe and Goyle, were seated. The young boy's posture and expression clearly indicated just how put out he was by the results of his most recent attempt to speak with the blonde witch.
"I wish I knew what he was playing at," Daphne said in asoft voice meant only for Tracey to hear. The looks that Crabbe and Goyle were sending their direction did not escape either witch's notice. "Watch yourself near those two, Tracey," Daphne said, worried for her friend even though that sounded strange being only eleven years old. "I have a bad feeling."
"They're just boys," Tracey snorted, not worried in the least. "They wouldn't dare do anything." Any further conversation on the matter was placed on hold as the food suddenly started to appear and everyone busied themselves with eating. For a while conversation was muted by the clang of utensils off of plates and platters as students did their best to appease their appetites.
The two girls walked back down to the dungeons and into the Slytherin common room once they were done eating. "What do you want to do, Daphne?" Tracey asked already knowing the answer to her question.
Daphne looked to the girl next to her and couldn't help but grin. Judging by the look on Tracey's face she could tell that her best friend already knew the answer to the question she had just asked. "I need to read what I missed in class today," the blonde told her in a serious tone."After that I want to go over the next Transfiguration lesson," Daphne added with a grin upon noticing the sour look upon her friend's face.
"But our next lesson won't be for another week," Tracey protested strenuously. Having grown up with the eldest Greengrass child she was well aware that Daphne was a rarity and actually enjoyed school and studying. Unlike herself who was content to do just enough to get by. "Surely you can wait till at least second week before giving into your academic urges?"
"I know," Daphne agreed, understanding her friend's reluctance. "I just don't want Granger to get the jump on me," she confessed. "Besides, I think I might actually be pretty good at it."
Tracey just rolled her eyes with a surrendering grin at her friend. "I guess I can't fault you there as you did earn us five points today. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt me to study a bit ahead in that class either," she added reluctantly. "That Professor McGonagall doesn't strike me as the type to show much leniency toward those who don't put forth the effort in her class."
"I don't know," Daphne counter with as she eyed her friend thoughtfully. "If you're not careful you might cause that cute head of yours to explode." Tracey grabbed a small pillow from the couch at hand and hit her friend with it causing them both to break into a fit of giggles as they raced off to retrieve their books and supplies.
The two friends found an empty place at the large round table and seated themselves. The next hour was spent going over lessons and the soft scratch of quill on parchment as they jotted down notes. Other Slytherins came and went from the table without the two first year girls paying them much attention. So when someone sat next to her, Daphne hardly even registered their presence. "Greengrass, we need to talk," Draco's voice spoke near her elbow unexpectedly.
A slight pause of the blonde girl's quill upon the parchment before her was the only indication that she heard the heir to the Malfoy family. Daphne's blue eyes didn't miss how Tracey, seated on the other side of her, tensed at the boy's words.
Draco waited for several long moments before he sighed slightly, clearly frustrated by the entire events of the evening. Never before had someone ignored him. Being the only child of one of the wealthier Houses within the Wizarding world had afforded him a certain degree of automatic respect which he had become accustomed to. He was, at best, a boy who was used to getting his own way and at worst a self-entitled aristocrat who didn't take kindly to being ignored. Faced with a girl who not only didn't want to dance to his tune but refused to show him the respect he felt he deserved, left him more than a little confused and irritated.
"Daphne, please," Draco tried once again, making certain that his voice was soft, soothing and reflected none of the seething anger he felt inside at the moment. He had, on a few occasions, heard his father use asimilar tone of voice. It was when he wanted someone's cooperation but didn't want to force them into it by more direct means. 'A willing accomplice is far more amendable than one forced to comply under duress,' he could hear his father's voice saying to him.
Daphne looked up towards her friend with a straight and emotionless face. "Tracey, have you noticed the deplorable behavior that passes for manners these days within some of the pureblood house?" she inquired. "It really is unacceptable what would appear to be considered common courtesies these days."
Tracey had to struggle for a moment to keep from grinning before she was able to play along. "I always thought that the old families were looked upon to set the standard for the rest of us to follow. Perhaps it is too much to hope for that they would properly educate their off-spring in what is suitable for the refined gentile of society these days."
Daphne chewed on the end of her quill as if thinking her friends words over. "I'm certain that there must be some houses that still know how to properly address a lady of standing. It would be truly disgraceful if they did not see fit teach this most basic of courtesies to their children."
Draco finally caught on to the thinly veiled accusations that were present in the exchanges between the two girls. The youth nearly cringed at what his mother would have said to him had she been present at that moment. Reluctantly he rose to his feet to address the seated blonde. "Ms. Greengrass, might I please have a moment of your time?" Draco enquired in as pleasant a tone as he could muster given the circumstances.
Daphne set her quill down carefully before turning in her seat to regard the light haired boy. "Why Mr. Malfoy, my apologies, I didn't see you there. I would be pleased to speak with you," she told the boy and was rewarded by seeing hope dawning within his eyes. "However I fear I am currently engaged in my studies and it would not be advantageous at this time to acquiesce to your request."
Draco licked his lips as he tried to process what had just happened. He was certain that Daphne was about to agree to his request only to have his legs cut out from under him at the last moment. "I was hoping we could discuss a matter of importance to the future of both our houses as well as ourselves," he said in a terse manner, while trying to rein in his growing temper.
"Yes, and I was hoping not to have classwork tonight," Daphne replied with a sweet smile that was clearly forced. "It would appear as though neither of us will be having our hopes fulfilled this evening." Draco could do nothing but stand there fuming in disbelief."That will be all, Mr. Malfoy. Good evening," Daphne said in dismissal before picking up her quill and turning in her seat so that her back was once more towards him.
Draco stood there a full minute as he digested what she had done to him before storming out of the room towards the boy's dormitory with Crabbe and Goyle in hot pursuit. Their little performance had not gone unnoticed by others in the common room which had suddenly fallen quiet.
Tracey exhaled the breath she had been holding in and then grinned at her friend only to see Daphne's hand that held the quill trembling as the adrenaline coursing through the blonde's body ebbed away. The auburn haired girl quickly reached out and grasped her friends hand and only then became aware that the tremors were running through the girl's entire body and were only being held in check by an act of will.
"Tracey, I need to get out of here," Daphne whispered through clench teeth even as she fought to maintain the tenuous hold she held upon her emotions. She truly hated being distant and acting as if she were better than others. The meal from dinner was even then threatening to vacate her stomach.
Recalling how her friend had nearly become ill on the train Tracey didn't argue. "Want me to go with you?" she asked worriedly.
"No," Daphne said hesitantly before taking a long slow steadying breath. "I think I'll find someplace else to finish my work tonight." Tracey simply nodded as she watched her friend gather her things and beat a hasty retreat from the Slytherin common room. Once free of the commons room the slender Slytherin girl set off for the left side of the third floor of Hogwarts, where the library could be found.
Hermione sighed as she set her books down upon the table and dropped into the upholstered wooden backed chair. Transfiguration class that morning had been everything she had hoped it would be. The bushy haired brunette smiled as she recalled how it had felt when her match had turned into a pin. All of her worries and hard work were instantly justified as the silver pin caught the afternoon sunshine streaming in through the window and seemed to sparkle just for her as it lay there on her desk. It was one of the best moments in her young life and one she was certain to treasure for a long time to come. The following awarding of points at the end of the class had been the icing on her velvet cupcake.
The day was near perfect, marred only by Ronald waving his wand around as if it was a sword, she recalled being fearful that he would poke out an eye, his or her own she wasn't certain at the time. Her completing the assignment didn't seem to help the boy any as his demeanor had turned sulky which only further prevented him from completing the work himself.
Lunch had also been an enjoyable event once everyone found out that she had earned Gryffindor five points. With people coming up and congratulating her and patting her one the back she had, for the first time ever, truly felt a part of something other than her own family. They are my family, she quickly corrected herself, at least for as long as I'm here. Thinking about lunch though reminded her of the one truly low point of her day thus far.
The young witch had been seated next to Ron Weasley while conversing with his twin brothers who were seated across from them. Hermione was trying not to watch the youngest of the redheads next to her eat. Honestly! Where does he put it all?she wondered. The twins were chatting about their newest potion when a motion at the head of the Slytherin table caught her attention. Normally she would have paid it no mind, being focused upon her own table, however she had just seen Ronald reaching for more food. Deciding it would probably be better to look away to save her own stomach from rebelling, her eyes had caught the movement. As she watched she saw the boy they had all learned the previous evening was Harry Potter stand up and slip an apple into his robes.
At first she thought nothing of it. It was written in the student handbook that students could take what food they wished from the great hall, so long as it was not consumed in the few areas within the castle where food was not allowed such as the library. The-Boy-Who-Lived quickly walked past the table, passing behind the twins. Hermione clearly saw the pained guilty look upon the dark haired boy's face. It was apparent to her that he must have felt terrible for taking the apple. The young witch nearly jumped from her seat to chase after him to tell him it was alright, but before she could Ron had turned to talk to her and she had to look away from the food on his face as well as in his mouth. Then by the time she was able to look towards the door to the great hall, the Slytherin boy was already gone.
After lunch Hermione sat the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. The kind hearted witch felt bad for the Professor as everyone seemed to make fun of him due to his speech impediment and low constitution. Hermione maintained that it wasn't his fault, though this belief didn't keep her from the realization that Professor Quirrell's lessons in the class were less than exemplary. It was this very fact that caused her to being studying this evening. Fearing that she had not garnished all that she could from the lesson she planned to reread the chapter again.
The young witch had attempted to study in her own common room, but between Ronald asking people to play chess and Seamus's loud laughter she quickly determined the environment was not conducive to reading. With aresigned sigh she had grabbed her bags and made her way to the library. For the first year student it was like coming home as she had spent a great deal of time in libraries before coming to Hogwarts. Among the books and reference materials she felt at peace.
Hermione absently pushed her hair behind one ear as she arranged her parchment upon the table and set her Defense Against the Dark Arts book open where she could easily see it. Reading the first page she lifted her quill and dipped it in the never-fill ink well affixed near the center of the table. Glancing up her brown eyes fell upon a mess of dark hair sitting at the table diagonally from her own. Harry Potter? she thought to herself in mild surprise at seeing him there after just having been contemplating him. It's almost like magic; she thought but quickly dismissed the notion that her thoughts had called him forth. Even in Hogwarts there were limits to what magic can do, she told herself with a small crooked smile. The boy had his nose in a book with several others scattered upon the table before him.
The young witch blinked as she watched the The-Boy-Who-Lived set the book he was reading aside before reaching for next one, the last in the stack apparently. Thinking back Hermione didn't recall seeing the bespectacled boy at the evening meal. Is that why he took the apple? she pondered as she forced herself to look down at the blank parchment and begin to scribble down notes.
Maybe he knew he wouldn't be attending dinner and hence he took the apple? Hermione began writing once again, certain that was the reason. As she wrote down important facts for several minutes she paused to dip her quill when a sudden thought struck her as she recalled Harry's expression when he left the hall. If he took it because he knew he would be studying late and miss diner then why did he look so torn when he took the apple?
Hermione continued to read and take notes but she couldn't resist looking up every so often at the boy studying close at hand. I should tell him, she told herself. What if I do and he gets embarrassed? I could hurt his feelings. The young Gryffindor debated the matter with herself for some time, but was unable to come to a decision.
Setting her quill aside she sighed heavily. I have to tell him, she finally decided. He clearly felt terrible for taking the apple, she reasoned. What if he does it again? Couldn't that kind of guilt eat at him, causing his distress over something that shouldn't? Hermione chewed the inside of her cheek for a moment. Maybe I'll just ask him about it? I can ask him if he read that part in the student handbook. Hermione smiled realizing she finally had the answer to her dilemma. The bushy haired witch looked up sharply only to see that the dark haired boy was no longer sitting at the table and the books were gone as well.
Hermione sighed dejectedly at her own inability to act. Why didn't I just get up and walk over to him? Now he's going to continue to be distraught over what he did and it's my entire fault! The young witch chastised herself as once again she allowed herself to over analyze something till it was too late to do anything about it. "If I had just done it right away I could have told him," she berated herself.
"Done what?" asked a puzzled voice directly behind Hermione causing the young girl to shriek and spring to her feet while spinning around. "I'm sorry," Harry quickly exclaimed as he held his hands up to show that he meant no harm. "I didn't mean to scare you," he added taking a step backwards to give her some room.
"I…I wasn't scared," Hermione said abruptly even as her heart was racing so fast her chest hurt. "You startled me is all," she clarified coolie as if it wasn't a big deal. I'm glad I didn't say anything else aloud, she thought thankfully. "You shouldn't be sneaking up behind people," she admonished him, her voice suddenly becoming stern as she glared at him.
Emerald eyes regarded the young witch for a long moment while asmall bemused smile tugged at the corners of Harry's lips. "You're correct, of course," Harry admitted. "I am terribly sorry, even though it wasn't my intent." Harry tried not to squirm under the girl's piercing brown eyes which had him feeling exposed in some manner. It wasn't afeeling he enjoyed or wanted to experience again. "I'm Harry," he said nervously extending his hand in the hopes it would distract the girl.
Hermione couldn't for the life of her figure out why the boy was apparently nervous. Never had she had someone be like that with her. Normally, due to past experiences with making friends, she was the nervous one."Hermione Granger," she said accepting the offered hand and shaking it twice. /It's so warm/, she noted silently to herself, and clammy.
"Ms. Granger, I was wondering if I might ask you a question?" Harry asked after a moment of awkward silence that stretched on uncomfortably for the both of them. Still nervous, Harry ran a shaky hand through his dark strands effecting little change to their perpetual state of disarray.
"Not if you're going to continue to call me Ms. Granger," the brown haired witch said with a small smile. "Please call me Hermione. Ms. Granger makes me sound really old like my Mom." Hermione saw Harry smile but couldn't help but notice the twinge of sorry that seemed to haunt his green eyes which the smile never reached.
"Hermione," Harry said to comply with her request only to suddenly feel slightly embarrassed calling a girl he had just met by her first name. "I...I was wondering if you could tell me how you did it?" he finally asked the question that had been the reason for his returning here after putting the transfiguration books back per the instructions from Madam Pince.
Hermione thought for a second and then understood what he was referencing. "You mean the match this morning," she stated as she fished within her robe and withdrew her match from class. Professor McGonagall had allowed her and the Slytherin girl to keep their matches as a kind of atrophy for completing the task in class. "You want to know how I transfigured it?"
Harry nodded and eyed the match longingly, wishing he had his as well. "I know I am missing something but I have no idea what it is," Harry confessed, frustration practically dripping from every word. "I read the beginning of the book so many times I practically have it memorized," he stated as he ran his hand through his hair in frustration, only managing to mess it up even more.
Hermione extended her hand and offered him the match she was holding. "Is that what you were doing here?" she asked softly as she watched him take the match from her fingers as if it was the Holy Grail or something of equal value. "Studying transfiguration?" she inquired as she regarded him, noting the look of undisguised longing in his eyes as he stared at her match.
"I thought if I read other books on the theory and principles of it that something would click," he told her without taking his eyes off the match he now held between his thumb and forefinger.
"You have to concentrate really hard," she told him as she shifted her chair back into place and sat before motioning for him to sit in the chair next to hers.
"If I concentrated any harder I'm certain my head would explode," he replied with a lopsided grin as he slid into the vacant chair, one foot curled up under his other leg. "I've gone over the formula time and time again," he assured her glancing away. Harry didn't want her to see the fear he felt which he was certain was reflected upon his face. Fear that maybe he wasn't missing anything but instead just couldn't perform the transfiguration. "It has to be that one undefined element!" he said thumping his closed fist against the table top in frustration and a desperate desire for that to be the reason. The alternative was not something he wished to contemplate. Harry turned and looked at Hermione earnestly, "Can you please describe exactly how you did it for me Hermione?"
Hermione stared at his serious face and found that she couldn't say no to him. Not that she would, even if it had been someone else sitting there. It wasn't in the young girl's nature not to give aide when it was requested of her. "Most of the conditions are easy to meet," she told him. "The weight, wand power and concentration are all there already. All I did…," the young witch paused as she replayed the events from earlier that day in her head as Harry hung on her every word. "…well…I guess if Ican to put it into words it would be that I just knew it was a pin."
"You just /knew/?" a perplexed Harry asked trying to understand what she was telling him.
Hermione's brow creased as she thought about her own words and that morning. "Maybe knew/isn't the right word. I believed that it was a pin," she told him only to see his brow crease as well. "Maybe you have to believe so much that you just /know it's going to be what you know it is," she offered with a shrug of her shoulders. Seeing the skeptical look on his face she added, "Never underestimate the power of belief. Instead of seeing a match you need to see it as a pin that is pretending to be a match."
Harry stood, setting the match upon the table reluctantly, before he started to pace back and forth within the short area behind their chairs."So I need to merely believe," he pondered aloud thoughtfully as he ran her words through his head once again. "It's a pin that only appears to be a match," he said aloud more to himself than to Hermione. "That's all I have to do?" Harry asked, pausing in his pacing to look at her quizzically.
"No, it's more than just that. There is the concentration as well as the wand and the motion that goes with it. It's only when all of that, as well as your belief come together that it will work," she instructed him.
Harry resumed his pacing, his eyes cast to the floor, lost in thought. The witch's words rang fairly similar to those within the book Harry had read most of the afternoon in Professor Binns' classroom while listening to Blaise softly snore next to him.
Harry paused in his pacing and sighed softly once as he realized he was really no closer to understanding it than he had been before. Just how does one know something is other than what it is? "Thank you Hermione," he said as he offered her a smile meant to express his appreciation but appeared more as if he was trying to placate her. "I'll let you return to your studying," he said before turning away.
"Harry, wait!" Hermione called after him, causing him to pause and turn back towards her only to see her holding up the match. "We have a match here so why don't you give it a try?"
I haven't learned anything new, he thought to himself but upon seeing the hopeful look upon her face he couldn't just walk away."Alright, but just once," he told her, stepping back to the table as she set the match down upon it. This is pointless, he thought still not understanding the process involved in transfiguring the match.
"Just relax, Harry," she told him in what she hoped was an encouraging tone. "You already know it can be done because you saw me do it earlier today. All you have to do is believe that you can do it too." Without thinking the witch reached out and gave Harry's shoulder a reassuring squeeze before letting her hand drop to her side once more.
Easy for you to say, you're a witch, he thought silently but refrained from saying it aloud to her. What if I'm not a wizard? What if this has all been a mistake? The letter could have been delivered to the wrong address, couldn't it have?
Harry took a deep breath and tried to still his nervousness as well as his turbulent thoughts which seemed to feed back upon themselves within his head. Glancing up, Hermione gave him a small smile of support. Harry tried to return the smile but all he could muster was a tight curt nod in the girl's direction before he turned his gaze to the match. Okay…I just have believe that this match is really a pin. Shouldn't be too hard, he told himself and nearly cringed at the sarcasm in his own mental musings.
Harry slipped his wand from within his robes as his mind ran rampant with his thoughts. If I'm not a wizard then what? Would they have to expel me from Hogwarts?As Harry thought of that he realized exactly what that would mean. They would have to send me back…back to the Dursley's! The green eyed youth had very little doubt what that would result in. He could already hear Dudley making disparaging comments about how he couldn't even get being a freak right. 'You worthless freak, Potter!'he heard his cousin's voice clearly in his head. I'm a wizard! I. am. A. wizard., he told himself determinedly as he squared his shoulders and assumed what he thought to be the proper position.
Harry stared down at the match upon the table top and concentrated. /It's a pin/, he told himself. The boy's hand sent his wand through the required motion as he said it once again. It's apin! A low rushing sound similar to a stirring breeze gathered force in his head causing him to smile in anticipation of the expected results./You're a pin/, he nearly screamed in his head believing the noise he heard to be his magic answering him finally. The sound within his head grew in strength from a small breeze to the flow of rushing water. I know you're a pin, he thought with another flick of his wrist. Before his eyes the match remained a match.
Anger suddenly flared within him like he had never experienced before. All his dreams of a life other than being the punching bag of his uncle and cousin or the slave of his relatives seemed to be slipping through his fingers. The realization that a mistake had assuredly been made when the Hogwarts letter had been delivered to him was the final straw. To have all his dreams and hopes within his grasp, only to see it disappear like smoke upon the breeze was more than his fledgling spirit could withstand.
The rushing water became a raging torrent within his head which grew in volume till it resonated within every fiber of his small being. Harry's entire body tingled as if a current of electricity was coursing through his muscles and very bones. He had heard the soft sound of the initial breeze several times before, the last time being when they had gone to the zoo for Dudley's birthday. Harry recalled that his cousin had pushed him to the ground while he was having a delightful conversation with a Burmese Python raised in captivity. Whereas that sound then had been soft, almost welcoming, this new sound was near deafening to the young wizard. The first cold tendrils of fear crept into his chest and grasped hold of his young heart.
The match, the table and the very library of Hogwarts itself seemed to fade from his view. The-Boy-Who-Lived saw himself within his mind, standing at the foot of a hill that stretched upwards, becoming a towering mountain in his disbelieving eyes. As he stood there, paralyzed with fear, apart of the mountain broke free near the top and started a rather slow and lazy slide downwards gathering momentum as it progressed.
To Harry it was like he stood before a falling avalanche, only he couldn't move from its deadly path. He had time to question exactly why he would want to move. If Isurvive they will send me back. Turned out and unwanted yet again, he realized, barely managing to hold back a bitter wail of hopelessness behind his quivering lips. He could feel the tears slowly slide down his cheeks yet he made no effort to wipe them away.
The boy who had survived a killing curse realized that he hadn't areason to continue on. Briefly images of a blonde girl with fetching eyes flashed through his mind followed by a dark skinned boy and a girl with bushy hair and a welcoming smile. Harry quickly dismissed them, realizing that they were not friends. He wasn't worth having friends.
With that knowledge arrived the sudden realization that he had no desire to flee the advancing fate speeding towards him. Better it take me and be done with it than return to them or continue on as this, he reasoned in aresigned tone. Within his mind Harry smiled as he closed his eyes and allowed the avalanche to wash over him and then he knew nothing as a blackness claimed him.
Hermione's first indication that something was amiss was when she noticed her Defense Against the Dark Arts book was gone. Puzzled she took her eyes from the match and looked at the table where the book had been only to see a small silver pin laying there. "Harry you did it!" the young witch exclaimed turning back to the boy excitedly only to see him standing there with his eyes rolled back into his head. Even as the confused witch watched, tears escaped from the boy's eyes to roll slowly down his cheeks. The contrast between the tear and the peaceful smile upon the boy's lips struck her as odd.
The soft sound of small metal objects striking the stone flagstones of the library's floor drew Hermione's attention and caused her eyes to open wide in disbelief as her breath caught in her throat. The book shelves directly behind them were devoid of books, which was surprising in and of itself. What caused her to gasp was the rain of silver pins that were rolling off the shelves and falling to the floor. It was the noise of those pins striking the floor that has drawn her attention away from the boy before her.
"Harry you have to stop it!" Hermione exclaimed turning back towards Harry and grasping his shoulders forcibly while giving him ashake. Her efforts were rewarded by Harry crumpling in her hands, dragging them both to the floor.
Hermione desperately threw her arms around Harry's neck in an attempt to keep him from hitting his head as he fell. The Gryffindor ended up being sprawled across the boy's chest and quickly removed herself from his chest and sat upon her knees beside him instead.
"Harry! Harry!" she screamed loudly while shaking the boy sprawled upon the cold floor.
Yanking her wand from her robe she pointed it in what she hoped was the direction in which the front counter was. "Lumos Solem," she screamed driven by fear. A bright light shot forth from the tip of her wand and illuminated the great library brighter than any normal sunlight ever could.
Behind her she could hear more and more pins falling to the ground meaning more books had been transfigured. It was only a moment before the sound of running feet reached her.
"Hold on Harry, they're coming," she told the comatose boy next to her as she put her wand away before slipping her hand into his. The dark haired wizard's fingers felt ice cold against her skin as she gave them agentle squeeze to let him know he wasn't alone.
"Ms. Granger! What is the meaning of this!" exclaimed Irma Pince upon spotting the two of them on the floor behind the study table. The dark haired librarian froze in her tracks as if someone had cast Petrificus Totalus upon her. "Where are all my books!" she nearly shrieked upon seeing the empty shelves behind the girl who was kneeling upon the floor.
"It's Harry," Hermione tried to tell the irate librarian. "Something is wrong with him!"
"There soon will be for what he has done to my books!" Madam Pince proclaimed as she turned towards the two first years with anger clearly in her eyes. "Get up the both of you! We'll see what the Headmaster has to say about this!"
"Ms. Granger, what has happened here?" suddenly asked astern voice which nearly cause the young witch to sob in relief.
"Professor, it's Harry!" Hermione, clutching the boys hand in both of hers, repeated to her Head of House even as Professor McGonagall hurried over and knelt beside the boy. "He was trying to transfigure the match like I did this morning. Then he went all strange and the books became pins. I grabbed him and he collapsed," she explained fighting to keep the note of hysteria in her voice from growing.
"My books…," bewailed Madam Pince having walked right past the two students to the empty shelves. It was only as she investigated further that she realized the true extent of the horror. Every book within ahundred meters had been turned into pins.
Unable to deal with the loss of her beloved books the librarian collapsed into a nearby chair in a daze.
Professor McGonagall looked at all the pins upon the floor."Sadly I would say he met with resounding success, Ms. Granger." Minerva looked up just as Professor Dumbledore arrived to assess the situation."Headmaster," the Head of Gryffindor said with a respectful tilt of her head before informing him what she had been told.
The aged wizard looked down at the table and reaching down lifted the match that lay there, holding it up for his Deputy Headmistress to see."It would appear young Harry was not successful in his endeavor."
"Headmaster, I'm sorry," Hermione started with only to be gently hushed by a soft gesture from the white bearded wizard.
"Ms. Granger I am certain that it is through no fault of your own that these events played out as they did." The aged Headmaster smiled to the young witch, noting that she still grasped tightly the hand of Harry.
"I just wanted to help him," the young witch exclaimed emotionally, feeling that it was all her fault suddenly. As there were adults present to now handle matters she was finding it more difficult to contain her emotions, namely the fear she had felt since seeing Harry's eyes rolled back into his head.
"He asked for my help," she added in a softer voice as she blinked rapidly to forestall the tears she could feel welling up in her eyes. "I….I just wanted to help…," her words trailed off into a soft whisper as she turned to stare at the Slytherin boy beside her.
"…and rightfully so," Dumbledore said in his best grandfatherly voice to the clearly distraught girl. "Minerva, perhaps it would be best if you saw Ms. Granger back to her House. Madam Pomfrey should be here shortly to look after Harry," he told the Head of Gryffindor making certain that the young bushy haired witch heard that the school nurse would arrive soon.
Hermione reluctantly released the hand in hers and set it down gently on Harry's chest before resting her hand upon it for a long moment. On shaky legs the aspiring young witch stood only to feel the supportive arm of her Head of House slip around her shoulders. Hermione leaned into the elder witch even as the first tear slipped free of her control. Hearing her name she turned and looked back at the scene, biting her lip upon seeing Harry's unmoving body.
"Ms. Granger," the Headmaster called just before Hermione turned to leave down the aisle which led to the main doors of the library. "Ten points to Gryffindor for not losing your head in what must have certainly been a trying ordeal," he told her with a sympathetic smile upon seeing the tears on her cheeks.
It was only a few minutes before Madam Pomfrey, the head of the Hogwarts Hospital wing arrived and got directly to work. She quickly examined Harry for several long moments before she levitated the now unconscious boy off the floor.
"How is he?" Dumbledore enquired of his head of the school's medical staff.
"He appears to be exhausted," Madam Pomfrey stated matter-of-factly. "Whatever happened here it has drained him physically, though not magically. Do we know what caused this, Headmaster?"
"I believe that Ms. Granger was privy to an extraordinary display of accidental magic," Albus replied thoughtfully as if still pondering the matter. "I think perhaps when she grabbed him it was enough of a distraction to break the hold it had over him."
"You think that the magic took control of him?" Poppy asked in a worried tone.
Albus offered a small wistful smile to the nurse. "Alas, we still know so little about accidental magic that it is hard to say. I do know that he did not have control of whatever it was. I do not believe that Harry would do such a thing knowingly." Seeing the confused look upon Poppy's face he quickly explained the fate of the nearby books.
"Ms. Granger is just fortunate that there wasn't a backlash of magic when she grabbed hold him," the aged medical witch said with aslight shake of her head at how lucky the girl had been. "We really should teach these basic procedures and precautions, Headmaster."
"I agree," Dumbledore said as he patted her shoulder sympathetically. "I will bring it before the Board of Governors once again."
The nurse smiled in thanks till her eyes fell upon the near comatose librarian. "I'll prepare a sleeping draught for Irma," she told the Headmaster softly.
Albus Dumbledore glanced over to where the Hogwarts Librarian was seated. "I think that would be for the best. Please let me know if there is any change in Harry's condition through the night." Madam Pomfrey nodded and then walked from the library with the floating body of The-Boy-Who-Lived beside her.
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