Categories > Books > Harry Potter > I, Alone
Chapter 15 – All Hallow's Eve
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Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Order of Merlin First Class, Grand Sorcerer, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and last but not least, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. "Much like the years, I've seemed to have acquired a fair number of titles," the elder wizard mused to himself as he selected a lemon drop from his ever present candy dish. The last of his titles was by far his most cherished. He would gladly give up all the others if it weren't for the fact that he didn't feel there was another who could do the positions properly "Never enough hours in the day," he contemplated as he popped the sour treat past his bearded lips and into his mouth. "Or days in the week for that matter," he added with an amused chuckle.
Seating himself behind his desk, the Headmaster lifted the parchment that lay before him and gave it a quick once over. The bill was just the latest to be paraded before the Wizengamot for their next session."Thankfully the Lords prefer to stay home within the warmth and comfort of their manor houses during the winter months. Though I dare say that sitting through the summer sessions does require an adequate cooling charm or two," he added with a small smile.
Setting the bill aside for further studying later the Headmaster lifted the next parchment, the words Triwizard Tournament at the top instantly catching his attention. "There hasn't been a tournament since 1792," Albus mumbled as he read further. The request was from Minister Fudge who thought it would be a grand idea to revive the long abandoned tournament. "No doubt to boost his declining popularity," the aged wizard mused aloud. "I'll have to persuade Cornelius to forego the tournament, I fear. It is far too dangerous," he added, recalling the issue with the cockatrice that had gone on a rampage and injured all three judges at the last tournament. "Far too dangerous indeed with Nicolas' stone being here. There are too many innocent children here that may come to harm."
The Headmaster sighed heavily as he would have liked to once again revive the tournament, with sterner precautionary measure added of course."It is always a grand occasion when we can strengthen relations between the three largest schools in Europe. I fear we have all grown rather despondent to one another since the war. Were Voldemort to return, he would no doubt find us each an easy target as we are, isolated and on our own."
The aged wizard sucked on the sour treat for a long moment. It has always been the innocents that have paid the price for our failure, he acknowledged. "Even now, years later, the children of those who fought are still paying the price," he mumbled as he thought of Harry as well as the young lad, Neville Longbottom. "Alas it is not simply the children who are innocent that must pay for our future," he confessed as his thoughts turned to the man who had been imprisoned in Azkaban a decade before and still was contained within those foul walls. "While some would call such sacrifices justly done for the greater good, and rightfully so perhaps, I can only see such actions as necessary steps to protect our future," he told himself though it did little to ease his heavy heart and the guilt he felt at having allowed the Black boy to be incarcerated even though he was innocent.
"If I hadn't…if I had cleared Sirius, he would have taken Harry Potter and raised him as his legal guardian." The aged wizard shifted in his seat to a more comfortable position. It was becoming more and more difficult each year to find a comfortable anything. "Had he done that I am most certain that one of Voldemort's followers would have gotten to the lad. Even with living behind a fidelius charm…what kind of life would that be for a child?"
The Grand Sorcerer's head shock side to side slowly. "No. The one chance we had was Lily's sacrifice and the opportunity it offered us. Harry's aunt, Petunia Dursley, and her blood connection to Lily Potter made it so we could protect the boy." Albus sighed once again as he slipped his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose with one hand. If only I could have saved him from his relatives. I most assuredly have let the lad down in that regard. The Headmaster had made it a point to stay well away from Harry and his relatives all through the years in case someone managed to follow him to the boy's home. He didn't dare send anyone else as the fewer who knew where Harry was, the better. Other than Hagrid and Professor McGonagall, he himself was the only one to know where the boy was staying at.
"I truly am sorry, Harry," the tired wizard intoned softly to the empty room. "Had I known…," his words trailed off as he pondered just what he would have done had he known. I would have put a stop to it for certain, he told himself. He knew as well that he still would have placed the child with the Dursleys as it was in deed the safest place for the only surviving member of the Potter family. Further rumination was forestalled as the gargoyle alerted him to the approach of his expected visitor. "Enter," Albus called out upon hearing a knock upon his door.
"Good evening, Headmaster," Minerva McGonagall said once she was past the door and had closed it securely behind herself.
"Is it a good evening, Professor?" Albus asked with no hint of the usual merry twinkle in his eyes. The dark path his thoughts had taken him down just prior to the arrival of his Transfiguration Professor had left him sorely feeling his years.
"I apologize for the unfortunate incident, Headmaster," Minerva opened with as she drew closer, pausing once she was standing before the Headmaster's desk. "I still can't believe it was one of my own students who did it. I take full responsibility, of course."
With a wave of his hand a comfortable chair appeared next to the Transfiguration Professor. "Let us not look to place the blame, Professor McGonagall. If that were the case then the blame would most certainly be my own, as are they not all my students?" the Headmaster asked with a slight smile as he indicate she should be seated. "Am I correct to assume that you have spoken with the boy?"
Professor McGonagall's brow furrowed in thought as she replied after seating herself. "I did and I confess to be slightly puzzled." Seeing the wizard's questioning look she continued. "Mr. Weasley insists that all he did was bewitch the food so that it would turn whomever consumed it red and gold."
"So then the boils were not of his doing?" Albus enquired.
"So he maintains, Headmaster," Professor McGonagall replied. "I'm inclined to believe him. He received the powder from his brothers of course."
"Ah yes, the twins," Albus interjected with a soft chuckle as he held a soft spot for the pranksters, much as he had for a certain group which called themselves The Marauders who had attended Hogwarts years before. They reminded him of himself when he was but a youth and had called the castle's halls his playground. The wizard of then had held a fondness for pranks and mischievous deeds as well.
"Precisely," Professor McGonagall confirmed with adisapproving frown. "I spoke with the two of them and they confirmed what their younger brother has said. They did add that at the time they were not aware what the powder would be used for." The aging witch leaned back into her chair before continuing. "I fear that young Mr. Weasley is now looked upon as something of a hero among my lions."
"House rivalry has always been a part of Hogwarts, Ifear," Albus replied. "Striving to be better than others is one of many life lessons our students will learn while within these walls, Professor. I dare say that you yourself enjoy a bit of competition with Severus, do you not?" the Headmaster asked with a grandfatherly smile, the twinkle once more restored to his blue eyes.
"The House system sees to it that we must compete, Headmaster," Minerva huffed defensively. It irked the Transfiguration Professor that Severus and the Slytherin House had won the House Cup for the last seven years. Truth be told she would like nothing more than to wrest the cup away from the Potion Master and his house. "I would not be preforming my duties if I just sat idly by and didn't try my hardest for Gryffindor House and my young lions!"
"Quite so, quite so," Albus said in agreement, holding up one hand in supplication. "Boys will be boys," the Headmaster continued with upon seeing that the witch before him was placated. "I dare say that if this is all the mischief they partake in while at Hogwarts we shall count ourselves fortunate. Most fortunate indeed. Did you speak with Madam Pomfrey as to the health of those admitted into her care this evening?" the Headmaster questioned.
"Yes. I've just come from the hospital wing," Minerva replied. "Poppy said that they should all be fine by morning and be able to return to their houses. She wanted to keep them over night to ensure there were no other issues or side effects."
Harry should be having his treatment tonight if I recall correctly, the Headmaster thought to himself. How kind of our mediwitch to ensure that Harry has friends about him at such atime. "I see. Then we shall leave them in her admirable care," he replied with a soft smile. "The night grows late so I shall leave the fate of young Mr. Weasley in your hands Professor McGonagall. I will of course floo Mr. and Mrs. Weasley in the morning to make them aware of what has happened."
"That may be punishment enough," Minerva interjected, knowing all too well the temper of Molly Weasley. "Still, I think a few nights of detention with Mr. Filch will instill in the boy the belief that we do not approve of his actions," Professor McGonagall said as she stood."Good evening, Headmaster," the witch added with a slight dipping of her head in respect.
"Sleep well, Professor," Albus replied as his Transfiguration teacher departed. If it was not our young Mr. Weasley, then who was it that slipped in the other powder to cause the boils? he wondered to himself.
Harry Potter slowly awoke to the wondrous sensation of fingers running through his hair and along his scalp. For several long moments he simply lay there and marveled at how his life had changed in such small amount of time. Who would have thought that I would one day be able to wake up with my head in a witch's lap?The young wizard's thoughts returned in a rush, recalling to mind what had happened at the evening meal. I can't believe that they all came and sat with me and ate the same bewitched food that I did. It almost seems like a dream.
Harry remembered that they had been escorted to the Hospital wing by his head of house, Professor Snape and the Astronomy teacher, Professor Sinistra. Madam Pomfrey had been less than happy to see him in such a condition.
"A bit early aren't we, Mr. Potter?" the mediwitch had asked with an arch brow at the small boy. "Let's get the lot of you cleaned up so we can start your treatment then," Poppy said with asoftening expression as she saw the boy wince in pain as another boil popped on its own accord. "Professor Sinistra, if you'll be so kind as to stay and lend me a hand," Poppy said with a pointed look towards the Potion Master, who took the none too subtle hint and quickly departed.
"You should all find a bed as you'll be staying the night," Madam Pomfrey informed the bespelled students as she turned and headed for her office while motioning for Aurora to follow her. In a few moments the mediwitch and astronomy professor were back with their hands filled with various vials which they passed out to the students to drink.
Harry drank down the two vials he was handed without hesitation, having learned it was best to get the foul task over with as quickly as possible. As soon as Harry saw the boils begin to diminish, he stood and made to leave only to be halted by Madam Pomfrey calling his name.
"Just where might you be off to, Mr. Potter?" the mediwitch enquired with a stern frown.
Harry turned about, his eyes falling to the floor in embarrassment. "I have to serve detention with Mr. Filch this evening for tracking in mud when I returned from Quidditch practice earlier today," Harry replied in a hesitant voice.
"I'll speak with Argus and inform him that you'll be serving your detention with me," Aurora spoke up. "I think it is best if you remain here where Poppy can keep an eye on you for now. Is there anyone else that needs to be someplace?" the astronomy professor asked with a glance about to the other students, only to see them shake their heads.
In short order the students took turns using the loo to change into their pajamas, which had magically appeared upon the foot of their beds. It wasn't long before they were all tucked into beds with Hermione on one side of Harry and Blaise next to her with Daphne on the other side of Harry and Tracey just past her. With all of them settled, Professor Sinistra waved her wand to extinguish the lights till it was dark in the room with only the stray moon beams filtering in through the tall windows to light the room.
Madam Pomfrey walked over to Harry's bed and held out the now familiar potion to the boy. "This shouldn't have any adverse reaction with the other potions in your system, Mr. Potter, so there is no reason to forego taking it as scheduled."
"Yes, Ma`am," Harry replied as he accepted the potion and downed it in several large gulps.
"Have you been eating correctly?" Poppy enquired as she accepted the now empty potion vial back from the boy.
"Yes, Ma`am," Harry replied once again. "Is it really necessary to eat so much though?" he dared to ask.
"The work we're attempting to do requires that your body have the proper levels of nourishment," she told him, dropping her voice lower so that her words wouldn't carry to the others in the room. "If you're worried about gaining extra weight you shouldn't be as that is part of what we're attempting to accomplish." Seeing the boy about to object the witch quickly continued. "If you are truly concerned we can design a set of exercises for you that would not only help with additional weight but might also assist in building muscle mass which you'll need as you grow."
Harry settled back into his pillow and thought for a moment before responding. "I think I should like that. I'm certain that it will help me when playing Quidditch as well."
"I would imagine so," Poppy agreed with a disapproving frown at the mention of the game. The mediwitch had seen far too many students injured from playing the game to have any liking for it. After wishing the boy sweet dreams the mediwitch turned and headed for her office where she was certain her favorite astronomy professor was anxiously awaiting the details concerning Mr. Potter, which she had promised earlier that day.
Harry's thoughts were once more drawn to the present as the wondrous fingers trailed through his dark locks and along his scalp, sending an enjoyable shiver along his spine. "I really should thank you properly, Daphne," Harry stated in a somewhat drowsy voice," but I am just too comfortable to move at the moment so this shall have to do." The young wizard rolled his head forward slightly and kissed the thigh upon which he rested.
"I'm sure Daphne will be every so sorry to know that she missed that," Travis Davis said with a humorous chuckle. The young witch was glad that it was dark in the room so that the wizard in her lap couldn't see her checks blushing due to his actions. "If that's the thanks she's been getting then I think I shall have to do this more often."
"Tracey?" Harry asked in a puzzled expression as he made to turn his head and look only to be forestalled by the witch's hand within his hair. "I thought you were Daphne," he confessed settling back into the position he had been in.
"I had wondered where Daphne had been disappearing to," Tracey informed him. "I had just assumed that she was avoiding Malfoy and his goons. If I had known that she was spending time with you I would have insisted I be included as well. It is very unfair that she didn't share this time with us after all," Tracey added in a slightly pouting tone.
"The fault is mine," Harry replied with, quickly coming to the blonde witch's defense. "I…I didn't want everyone to worry about me so I asked her not to say anything. What did she tell you actually?" Harry asked hesitantly after several long silent moments.
"She only told Hermione and I about it this evening," Tracey answered. "She said that we might hear you whimper in your sleep and that should we do so, that this was the best way to help you," Tracey said as she once again started to run her hand through his hair. "I suspect that you can count on the three of us taking turns from now on. Just what is the potion you're taking supposed to do?" Tracey asked as she continued her ministration to the boy's unruly locks.
"Madam Pomfrey and the Headmaster are trying to help me by changing me," Harry replied after a moment of thought. "It seems I've missed out on some growth or something," he added, feeling that his answer was vague enough that it wouldn't indicate exactly why he had missed out on the proper growth.
Tracey was quiet for several long moments before she replied."I don't see what all the fuss is about, Harry," she opened with as she continued to run her fingers along the scalp of the head in her lap."I think you're perfect just as you are."
No one has ever thought I was perfect as I am, Harry thought to himself as he felt his chest constrict and grow warm at Tracey's heartfelt words. Lost in her kind words Harry rolled his head forward and once again kissed the thigh upon which he rested. "Thank you, Tracey. I think that is the nicest thing anyone has ever told me."
"It…it's true you know," Tracey stammered as she felt her cheeks heat into a rapid blush once again.
Harry merely smiled before a sudden thought occurred to him."Tracey…,"
"Hmm?" the young witch replied softly, unwilling to trust her voice at the moment as her throat felt cocked with emotions for the boy in her lap. Her feelings confused her and she wasn't certain exactly what to do with them. How can that possibly be the nicest thing anyone has said about you, Harry?Tracey suddenly wondered. Tracey had a sudden confusing urge to protect the boy who was her friend. The auburn-haired witch made herself a silent vow to be certain to tell her friend more often just how truly wonderful she thought he was.
"Did I?" Harry asked softly. "Did I whimper in my sleep?"
"Only slightly," Tracey replied, not wanting to embarrass the boy by admitting it had actually been fairly loud. "I'm a rather light sleeper though, especially when in a place I am unfamiliar with. Every little sound wakes me it seems."
"I see," Harry replied, glad that he hadn't made acomplete fool of himself by childishly crying in his sleep. As he thought about it though he realized that as long as it was Tracey, or even Daphne or Hermione, he wouldn't mind too much if they heard him. I guess that is what it means to have friends, he thought to himself. "I'm sorry then if I woke you."
"Shush you," Tracey scolded playfully with a small smile. "It's still a while till morning so try to go back to sleep, Harry," she instructed him as she soothingly played with his hair.
Harry sighed contentedly and closed his eyes and tried to do as told despite the fact that his joints hurt and seemed to throb with every heartbeat. At least the potion seems to be working. A soft sweet melody soon reached his ears and it took him a moment to realize that Tracey had started to hum."That sounds beautiful, Tracey. What is it?" Harry asked, his curiosity winning out against doing what he had been instructed to do.
"When I was very little my Mum would sing me a suantrai, alullaby, when I had trouble falling asleep," Tracey told him in a slightly wistful tone as she recalled one of the few good memories she had of her parents. "I can just barely remember her voice, I was so little and it was so long ago, but the words and melody have always stuck with me."
"Will you sing it for me?" Harry asked in a drowsy tone.
"If you'll go to sleep," Tracey replied with a soft smile at his request. Seeing the wizard in her lap close his eyes and get comfortable the young witch hummed the tune for a moment and then softly added the words to the Irish lullaby.
Lay down your head and I'll sing you a lullaby
Back to the years of loo-li lai-lay
And I'll sing you to sleep and I'll sing you tomorrow
Bless you with love for the road that you go
Harry couldn't believe his ears. Tracey's voice was so sweet and pure that it instantly caught at his heart and he could feel his chest once more grow tight and a warmth seemed to spread throughout his body.
May you sail fair to the far fields of fortune
With diamonds and pearls at your head and your feet
And may you need never to banish misfortune
May you find kindness in all that you meet
The young wizard, listening to his friend's tender words, couldn't help but wonder if his own mother had sung to him a similar song when he was ababy. A soft pain of longing for the mother he never knew flared deep within his chest. Not to be outdone, a pain shot through his body as the potion he had drank earlier that evening continued to do its work. Harry reached out and upon finding Tracey's free hand, entwined his fingers in hers, taking a measure of comfort in her presence.
May there always be angels to watch over you
To guide you each step of the way
To guard you and keep you safe from all harm
Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay
Tracey gave the hand in hers a small squeeze of reassurance. I'm here for you, Harry, she thought even as she continued to sing to the boy in her lap the lullaby which she hadn't even shared with Daphne, her closest friend. I don't know why you have to go through this or why you missed growth but I can make certain you don't have to endure this alone. If my singing helps you in any way then I'll sing you to sleep every night if I can.
May you bring love and may you bring happiness
Be loved in return to the end of your days
Now fall off to sleep, I'm not meaning to keep you
I'll just sit for a while and sing loo-li, lai-lay
May there always be angels to watch over you
To guide you each step of the way
To guard you and keep you safe from all harm
Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay
Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay...
Harry sighed as Tracey's voice quieted and she once again hummed the melody for a verse and then trailed off into silence. "That was simply beautiful, Tracey," the wizard told her. "If I could hear angels sing I am certain that is what they would sound like," Harry said in a slightly awed tone which was none the less filled with certainty. "Thank you Tracey," Harry offered his thanks, giving the thigh beneath his head athird and final kiss. "I'm glad you're here," he explained giving the witch's hand in his a gentle squeeze.
Tracey felt her eyes tear up slightly upon hearing his heartfelt words. Leaning down she gently placed a kiss upon Harry's exposed cheek, eliciting a small smile of appreciation from the wizard in her lap. "Thank you, Harry. I'm glad I'm here as well," she whispered near his ear.
As the young witch sat up and started to hum once again the clouds in the evening sky parted. As the first words to the lullaby once more left Tracey's lips a shaft of moonlight slipped through the parted clouds and through a window to shower the pair upon the bed in its tender glow. The occupants on either side of Harry's bed watched the surreal scene as Tracey's soft words floated through the room. Daphne and Hermione both gave thanks that their friends could find comfort in each other.
In the morning the five friends made their way towards the great hall. It had been a bit awkward for Harry to awake only to find Tracey curled up upon his bed next to him but then he recalled the events of that night and he didn't mind so much, if at all. Harry was just thankful that Blaise had been the last to awake and hence hadn't seen that Tracey had slept next to him. The dark-haired wizard was certain that the other wizard would have teased him about it if he had. Other than a few knowing smiles from Hermione and Daphne and a somewhat bashful grin from Tracey, no one had mentioned the impromptu sleeping arrangements. The emerald eyed wizard vowed that he wasn't going to bring it up if they weren't.
Harry made his way to his usual seat, only noticing that the others had followed him over once he arrived at the end of the Slytherin table and seated himself. With the exception of Hermione the other Outsiders took the same seats they had the night before. The bushy-haired witch paused and looked back towards the Gryffindor table.
"It's alright Hermione," Harry offered, deciding that if the others in Slytherin wanted to sit with him there really wasn't much he could do about it at this point. Hermione, on the other hand, belonging to adifferent house entirely, was another matter. "It will get you into further trouble with your housemates, so you don't have to sit with us."
"We know you're one of us," Daphne offered, not wishing to make matters any worse for her friend. After last night her House is bound to be put out with her because of her actions."Right Tracey?" Daphne added with a hopeful look towards her friend.
"Don't give them the satisfaction, Granger," Tracey said turning and glaring at the Gryffindor table, causing several who had been looking in their direction to turn away quickly. "I think you should just sit with us," Tracey added, ignoring Daphne's squawk of protest.
"I'm with Davis on this one," Blaise chimed in with as he started to fill his plate with food. "Once you bow to the wishes of others they'll always expect you to do it. At least that's what me Mum always tells me."
"Guys," Harry cautioned the others, not wishing to be the cause of any more harm to Hermione. It's bad enough that her entire house ignores her unless they are pranking her."I'm certain after last night Hermione will have a hard enough time in her own house. Let's not make it any harder for her," Harry counseled before turning to regard the standing witch.
Hermione stood up straighter and squared her shoulders as adetermine look crossed her face as she looked towards Tracey and Blaise."No, they're right," she finally said causing Harry to give her a nod of understanding, feeling relieved that Hermione understood. The Gryffindor witch slipped into the vacant seat across from Harry. "I'm an Outsider so I belong here with you, Harry," she told the stunned wizard across from her before hastily adding, "and the others of course."
"Hermione, are you certain?" Harry asked reaching out and laying a hand upon the witch's forearm. "Things could get far more difficult for you," he added, knowing what she was already going through just by associating with him and the other members of their group. I can only imagine what they'll do to her if she shuns her entire house in favor of sitting with us at the Slytherin table.
Hermione opened her mouth to reply however whatever she was about to say was halted by a sudden disruption which came from the Gryffindor table.
Ron Weasley was having the best morning of his life. His little stunt the previous evening had elevated his status within the House of Red& Gold to nearly that of a celebrity. Even his brothers, Fred and George, had afforded him a measure of respect, which he had as yet to ever receive from the pranksters. His older brother Percy had scolded him for a long while but that was to be expected as Percy was the Prefect and hence had no choice but to do otherwise. The youngest Weasley was certain that under that stern disapproval publically shown, Percy was actually applauding his actions. The young red-head couldn't help but grin as he shoveled food into his mouth and listened to those around him talking about how the Slytherin's had turned colors.
"Did you see his face when it turned gold and his hair was red?" exclaimed Dean Thomas. "Blimey but that was a wonderful thing to see!"
"I thought the boils were a particularly brilliant piece," Seamus Finnigan was quick to add. "Well done there, Ron! I didn't think you had it in ya!" the Irish lad declared before munching on another piece of bacon.
"Don't you think it might have been a bit much?" Neville Longbottom asked tentatively.
"He had it coming!" Ron replied defensively. I'm not sure where the boils came from, the young Gryffindor wizard thought to himself, but if McGonagall believes it wasn't me then I've nothing to worry about. "Snakes shouldn't be around us Lions," Ron boasted proudly, loud enough to make certain his voice was heard the next table over. His words earned him more than one glare from the House of Silver& Green.
"But Hermione got hurt as well," Neville pressed, feeling that the entire affair had been uncalled for. "She's one of us."
"No one forced her to sit over there or to eat the food for that matter," Seamus replied, coming to Ron's defense. "Just who's side are you on anyways, Longbottom?" enquired the dark- haired boy.
"No ones," Neville stammered quickly before turning his attention back to his own food, fearful that they would decide to treat him the same way they were treating the Granger girl.
"Speaking of the little traitor," Dean said with a nod towards the doors to the great hall where Hermione and a group of Slytherin's were entering together.
"I bet she'll come begging for forgiveness now," Ron said in a low whisper, causing the other two to snicker in agreement. Plans of allowing the know-it-all witch do his homework for the remainder of the school year filtered through the young wizards head. Maybe I can have her do next years as well, Ron thought to himself only to see the witch in question march past the Gryffindor table with Potter and her other Slytherin friends.
Too busy glaring at Hermione and the others as they took their seats at the end of the Slytherin table, Ron failed to notice that the morning mail had arrived and hence missed the red envelope that landed before him with tendrils of steams seeping from its edges. It wasn't till Neville spoke up that the red-headed wizard turned back around.
"That's a Howler!" Neville exclaimed upon seeing the smoldering envelope. "My Gran sent me one of those once and I left it alone and it was ten time worse when I finally did open it!"
With a trembling hand the youngest Weasley reached out and picked up the envelope that seemed to twitch in his grasp. Hesitantly he broke the seal on it only to have it shoot up into the air and transfigure itself into aset of eyes and a mouth. The voice that issued forth from it was one that he knew all too well. "Mum?" he mumbled under his breath in shocked disbelief.
"RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY!" screamed an irate woman's voice loud enough that one would think that a sonorous charm had been used. All eyes turned towards the Gryffindor table and the bright red envelope which hung in the air directly before the youngest Weasley boy. "HOW DARE YOU DO SUCH ATHING? THE HEADMASTER HIMSELF HAD TO TAKE TIME FROM HIS BUSY WORK AND FLOO US!JUST YOU WAIT TILL YOU COME HOME!"
The letter turned and looked further down the table a ways at the twins seated there. "I expected better of the both of you. How could you give him that stuff in the first place?" the howler asked before turning back to the cowering boy. "YOU WILL APOLOGIZE TO THE OTHER STUDENTS IMMEDIATELY! WE WILL DISCUSS THIS IN GREATER DETAIL WHEN YOU ARE HOME!" the howler screamed before its tone changed once again to sound almost caring."Hope you are doing well. Love and miss you, Mum and Dad!" The red envelope folded itself up and then suddenly shredded itself into tiny bits which rained down upon the table.
Ron Weasley sat there, too stunned by what had happened to even finish eating. The young wizard could hear the laughter coming from the direction of the Slytherin table, which did very little to help his rapidly falling spirits. But he had it coming to him, Ron told himself as if that was the answer to everything. Turning his head he looked towards where Harry and the others were seated only to see all of them staring at him. Even Granger is laughing at me, Ron fumed, mistaking the girl's shocked expression for one of humor.
It's all his fault, Ron thought as a slow burning anger blossomed in the pit of his belly. Everything was perfect till Harry Bloody Potter just had to start at Hogwarts the same year as I did. If he wasn't here then Granger would be sitting next to me and helping me do my studies! The boy of course meant that she would be doing his studies for him. Being the youngest boy he had learned long ago how to manipulate his brothers to do thing for him. Sadly it was a trait he had shown his sister only to discover that she was far better at it than he was. The wizard nearly jump out of his seat as hands landed heavily on each of his shoulders.
"Come now, little brother," Fred said looking down at Ron.
"Medicine is best taken quickly and gotten over with, it is," George added from the other side of the seated wizard. The twins quickly grasped their younger sibling under each arm and lifted him from his seat.
"Wait!" Ron wailed as he was hauled to his feet and half carried, half dragged towards the end of the Slytherin table. "What are you doing?" the boy asked as he desperately tried to halt their forward movement.
"Didn't you hear, Mum?" Fred asked his younger struggling brother.
"I'm fairly certain the whole school did, brother mine," George said to Fred as they both grinned in agreement.
"Best then to get this over with as soon as possible," Fred said, his smile slipping a bit as his expression verged on almost serious.
George continued to grin, "No time…,"
"…like the present," Fred finished with as the twins thrust the younger boy forward and causing him to stumble slightly.
Ron gained his balance and looked up only to see Harry and the others regarding him suspiciously. I guess I might as well as I doubt I could be any further embarrassed than what Mum's howler has made me, he thought to himself as he gathered his Gryffindor courage. "I…I apologize for having pulled such a prank on you," the young wizard stammered, as he made certain that he wasn't meeting anyone's eyes directly. No way am I apologizing to him! None of this would have happened if it hadn't been for him after all!
Harry stared at the Gryffindor boy for a long moment, not exactly certain how to handle someone apologizing to him. He really should be offering his apologies to Hermione, Harry thought to himself only to have a sudden thought. "Ron, you'll see that Hermione isn't bullied any more, won't you?" Harry asked, catching the boy's eye finally.
"Harry!" Hermione gasped at her friend only to be stalled by the bespectacled wizard's raised hand. Daphne and Tracey exchanged looks, suddenly understanding what had been bothering the Gryffindor witch all this time.
"No more stuff disappearing or being misplaced?" Harry pressed locking eyes with the red-head. "No more rumors about her wanting to change houses?"
Ronald Weasley seethed silently within, taking great pains not to allow it to show on his face. How?How did he know I was the one spreading those rumors? Sneaky little Snake!"I…I can't control what others do or say," Ron finally stammered after a long pause. "I'll do what I can though."
"Thank you. That's all we can ask," Harry replied only to see the boy roughly shake his shoulders out of his brother's grasps before storming back over to the Gryffindor table and angrily dropping in his seat where he proceeded to ignore everything, even his food.
"Sorry about that, Mate," Fred apologized as he watched his brother depart.
"We're fairly certain Mum drop him a few times when he was little," George offered. "Not right in the head, that one is."
"It's not your fault," Harry told them, sensing that they felt the blame for their sibling's actions was theirs.
Fred looked sheepish, "Well you see…,"
"…actually it is," George finished with. "We gave him the powder for the red and gold," he confessed.
"Of course we hadn't a clue as to what he was going to do with it at the time," Fred was quick to point out. "We thought he was going to use it on someone from our own house. Last year we used in at Gryffindor Quidditch matches to show our House pride. Had we known what the prat was up to we never would have given it to him."
Harry simply gave a brief nod, accepting their apology as well before he continued. "I guess that makes us even in a way," he said only to be met with twin blank looks. "I think I owe you both an apology for what I did at King's Cross back at the start of term. I don't do well with all the attention and what not," Harry offered, hastily running a nervous hand through his hair only to feel Daphne's hand upon his thigh as she gave it a small squeeze of reassurance.
"Honestly I think Ginny was more disappointed than we were," George stated. "I'll wager she's still upset about that, she is."
"I'm truly sorry about that," Harry hastily replied, feeling bad for perhaps hurting their sister's feelings, even if on accident.
"I wouldn't worry about it too much, Mate," Fred chimed in with.
"You can always make it up to her next year when she starts here," George offered with a knowing grin.
"Can't have the girls weeping after you and all that now can we?" Fred asked with an equally knowing grin.
"N...no, we can't have that," Harry replied, suddenly feeling worried as he quickly glanced about the table only to see all three witch's present regarding him intently. "So, even then?" Harry asked looking back towards the older boys. It amazed him that he could speak with them so easily. Perhaps it is because I've spoken with them before and I have friends around me now.Not being alone does seem to make a difference, he reasoned.
"It should be us asking you that, Mate," Fred replied, more than willing to call it even.
"Still, if you ever fancy getting back at the little prat," George offered as both twins jerked their heads in their brother's direction.
"We'd be more than willing to offer you some quality items that we just happen to have," Fred supplied with a sly little smile.
"At discounted prices even," George was quick to clarify with a roguish grin to match his brothers.
Harry could only shake his head and grin as he watched the twins return to their table and start to give their younger sibling a difficult time. Suddenly finding himself very hungry the Quidditch player reached for food and started to fill his plate. Where ever will I put it all? he pondered as he eyed the amount of food Madam Pomfrey had insisted he eat.
"What was that all about, Harry?" Hermione asked turning back to look at the dark-haired boy across from her. In the end Harry had to tell them about how he had first met the twin's while boarding the Hogwarts Express.
Blaise Zabini walked into the great hall of Hogwarts with a smile on his face and his head held high. The day was All Hollow's Eve and there was a current of excitement in the air as the students discussed the upcoming feast that evening. The day had been filled with funny pranks as well as some not so funny ones. The dark skinned Slytherin made his way to the end of his House's table and took his usual seat. Glancing about as he started to fill his plate he noticed the three witches seated with him staring at him. "What?" the young wizard asked.
"What do you mean, What?" Tracey snapped back quickly as the other two nodded their agreement. "Are you alright?" she added as she eyed the boy's rapidly swelling black eye and his split lip.
"This is nothing," Blaise said dismissively with a grin that caused him to wince in pain from the cut on his lip. "You should have seen the other guy!"
"You were in a fight!" Hermione exclaimed, putting it all together. "But why? With who?"
"No," Blaise corrected, holding up his fork to forestall her from continuing. "As far as Professor Snape knows, Malfoy and I fell down the stairs into the common room," the grinning boy concluded with just before he popped a chip into his mouth.
"Malfoy?" Daphne gasped before turning and looking down along the Slytherin table. While she spotted Crabbe and Goyle fairly quickly, there was no sign of the puffed up boy in question. "Where is he?"
"Heading to the Hospital wing with our Head of House, last Isaw him," Blaise replied around the food in his mouth. "Where's Harry at?" the boy asked, noticing that the other first year wizard was absent.
"He hasn't shown up yet," Tracey provided in a dejected tone.
Hermione's brow creased in concern. "He didn't show up for breakfast either," the Gryffindor witch said aloud as she knew they were all thinking it. "I hope he's alright."
"It can't be easy for him," Daphne contributed softly as she slowly rotated her tea cup on the table top before her. "Today is the day after all. A decade has passed since Harry lost his parents."
"Do…do you think we should look for him?" Hermione asked hesitantly.
Blaise quickly swallowed his food, nearly choking on it in the process. "Blimey, leave the poor bloke alone!" he told the three girls. "He made it to class and all, so he's probably not that bad off. Maybe he just wants to be alone for a bit. If he wants company I'm sure he'll come and find us for it. We're his friends after all."
Daphne stared at the tea in her cup for a long moment. Would Harry even know to come to us?I'm certain he's never had anyone he could turn to before. The young witch's heart felt heavy. Blaise is right on one account, Harry may just want some time alone. But what if he doesn't? The bright witch's initial instinct was to find her friend and try to comfort him, however her uncertainty held her to her seat. I wonder if those relatives of his ever brought him to see his parents' graves. If they were that terrible to him then I doubt it, she reasoned, recalling the abuse Harry had endured at their hands.
Harry, are you alright? Hermione wondered as she wrestled with herself. The Gryffindor's first reaction was to storm out of the great hall and find the dark-haired wizard. He's my first friend…my best friend. I should be there for him, she told herself. Even if all I can do is sit beside him in case he needs me! Would that be too much?Suddenly recalling Blaise's comment that Harry might just want some time alone, she wasn't certain just what she should do. Would my being there actually make matter worse? If he wants to be alone and I force my presence on him, that wouldn't be good. What type of friend would that make me?
Is he hurting? Tracey mused silently, feeling her own chest constrict at the thought of him hurting all alone. My parents may not have died but it sometimes feels like it. With so little contact and not having seen them for so long the auburn-haired witch, at times when she was angry with them for abandoning her, would tell herself it would be better if they were actually gone for good. Despite everything, there were also times her heart still ached for the sound of their voices or her mother's touch. It was times like those that she would cry herself to sleep. I know how badly it can hurt Harry. I also know that at times you don't want others around you. Tracey recalled several times when she was younger that she had hid, even from Daphne. Having others about just makes you remember all the more what you're missing.
"Blaise," Tracey suddenly asked, breaking from her thoughts, "What did you and Malfoy get in a fight about?"
The wizard quickly finished chewing and swallowed his food, only to reach for a goblet of liquid when he started to choke. "Nasty stuff that pumpkin juice," Blaise exclaimed with a distasteful look at the goblet as he set it back down on the table and pushed it far away from himself as he could. "I don't see how anyone can drink the stuff!"
"Zabini!" Tracey growled in a low and threatening tone, causing the wizard to look at her in surprise. "Are you going to tell us or are we going to have to hold you down and pour more pumpkin juice down your throat till you do?"
The only wizard currently in their group looked about at the other two witches and swallowed nervously at their threatening glares. Somehow I think they would, right here in the middle of the great hall and all even! "I was getting to that, Davis," Blaise replied holding his hands up defensively as if he was warding off the attack already. "It's not like I planned on cho-,"
"Zabini," Tracey growled softly as she reached for the discarded goblet of pumpkin juice.
"Alright! Alright!" Blaise sputtered out. "So Ihappen to overhear Malfoy bragging to his two trolls."
"That's nothing new," Tracey interjected. "Crabbe and Goyle are some of the few that can actually stand to listen to Malfoy for any great length of time."
"True enough," Blaise agreed. "He was going on and on about something. I was going to ignore him but then I heard him mention Harry's name." A quick glance showed that he had all three witches'undivided attention. "He was telling them how he saw Weasley do something to Harry's place at the table." Blaise raised his head and looked about to make certain no one was listening in before he leaned forward and added in aquieter tone, "Once he saw the Gryff leave the little git added his own something and that's where the boils came from."
"You took all three of them on at once?" Daphne asked in disbelief.
"Please! What house am I from? I'm not some thick headed Gryffindor!" Blaise shot back only to realize that there was a member of the Gryffindor House with them at that moment. "Sorry, Hermione," the boy offered apologetically. The bushy-haired witch just waved it off. "I hid one of his books from him. When we were on our way to class he realized he didn't have it and went back to get it. When he did, I followed him," the boy said with a smug smile. The dark-skinned wizard had jinxed the stairs in alayer of ice. Malfoy had fallen and then slid all the way down the stairs, his head bounce off each one on the way down. "Apparently those stairs are just as slippery going up them as they are going down," Blaise added, his smile slipping a bit at the memory of how he had fallen for his own prank.
Draco Malfoy was in a foul mood and with good reason. "I swear," the young Malfoy scion fumed as he spun and glared at Crabbe and Goyle angrily, "When I find out who jinxed the ice onto those stairs, my father will hear of it!" The young wizard had regained consciousness within the hospital wing of the school with Madam Pomfrey tending to his injuries. Even now, hours later, his head was still aching. The embarrassing part of it all was that it had been Professor Snape, his own Head of House, who had found him on the floor and delivered him into the mediwitch's care.
"It wasn't one of you two was it?" Draco barked, eyeing each boy closely. They're stupid enough to tell me if it was them or not. I'm certain of it! Still, Idoubt either would have the brains to think something of that nature up.Seeing both boy shake their heads negatively the light haired boy grunted in acceptance and resumed his pacing. "The professors believe it was just an All Hollow's Eve prank gone awry, but I know different!" Draco fumed, certain that it had been aimed directly at him.
Was it Potter? Draco wondered. Did he find out that I added the boil powder after Weasley left? The young Slytherin couldn't help but worry that he might have been found out. If Potter knew I'm sure he would have gone to a professor by now, the boy reasoned as he continued to pace back and forth. As Professor Snape hasn't come for me yet, Potter either knows and is keeping quiet about it or…what? Perhaps he is keeping the knowledge to use it against me at another time? That would be the Slytherin thing to do after all.
The blonde Slytherin was actually grateful for the prank in a way, as the visit to the Hospital wing had meant that he didn't have to sit his afternoon classes. A sudden thought hit the boy, causing him to freeze and look towards the other two. "Did either of you take notes today in class?" Seeing the identical blank stares regarding him, Draco sighed, wondering when he'd be able to get some brighter friends.
The door to the Slytherin common room opened and none other than Harry Potter entered. Draco glared at his fellow first year student who quickly crossed the room and disappeared into the boy's dormitory. I wonder what he's up to?It wasn't long before The-Boy-Who-Lived returned, this time without his school bag, and headed back towards the door leading out of the common room.
"What's your rush, Potter?" Draco asked, as the other boy passed the trio. "Oh that's right. Today is All Hollow's Eve. I bet you just can't wait for this day every year," Draco offered with a sneer.
Harry paused for a moment at the door, confused by the boy's words. My Mum and Dad died today. Why would I long for this day? It's just a reminder that they aren't here, he thought to himself as he recalled all the looks and stares he had been receiving since that morning. Unfamiliar with others worrying about him it was easy to mistake concern for pity and sadness for displeasure.
"They say that on this night the vail between the real world and the other is at its thinnest," Draco told Harry while he watched the boys back. "Maybe, if you look real hard, you'll be able to finally see your Mum and Dad!" The trio broke out into laughter which Harry could hear till the secret door to the Slytherin common room closed behind him after he made his escape.
"Have you seen Harry?" Daphne asked her oldest friend as the two of them met just outside the entrance to the great hall. "I checked the library and he's not there." The young witch had steadily grown more concerned for her friend, especially with the way Harry had raced out of the room at the end of the last class for the day.
"Not since our last class. Same as you," Tracey replied as she once more worried about the missing wizard. He must be feeling terrible! "I don't care what Blaise said earlier. I don't think it's good for Harry to be by himself, especially today."
"I feel the same way," Daphne confessed.
"So what are we going to do?" Tracey asked.
"We'll wait here for Hermione and then we're going to go find him!" Daphne replied earnestly.
"E…ex…excuse me," stammered a timid sounding boy who had approached as the two girls were busy speaking. Both witches eyed the red and gold trim on the boys robes for a moment before looking up and waiting for him to continue. "If you're waiting for Hermione, I…I don't think she's coming."
"Why not?" Tracey asked angrily, causing the boy to shy away a bit. The young witch held a certain dislike for the members of the Gryffindor house for how they were treating Hermione.
"What's your name?" Daphne suddenly asked in a kinder, gentler tone as she stepped a bit in front of Tracey.
"Neville. Neville Longbottom," the boy replied with ashocked expression, uncertain what to make of Daphne. First one yells at me and then the next one talks to me as if we're friends. Why are girls so frightening confusing?
"Neville, do you know why Hermione won't be here?" Daphne enquired, keeping her voice low and friendly with a smile on her face.
"Some of our housemates got into a row with her in the common room," Neville told them. "It seems they were a bit put out that she stopped winning points for the House. They pretty much told her that they didn't want her there anymore and that she should go move her things down to the dungeons."
"They didn't!" Tracey and Daphne gasped together only to see the boys nod ever so slightly.
"Apparently most of the Gryffindor's were present and no one said anything," Neville continued. Upon seeing twin angry glares directed at him he quickly added, "I wasn't there at the time. I only just heard about it though."
"So they're trying to force her out of the tower," Daphne said as she thought over this latest piece of news.
"Can they even do that?" Neville asked.
"I don't think so," Daphne replied to the wizard absently as she wondered what they should do.
"They don't need to force her out though," Tracey said, suddenly speaking up. "All they need to do is make her life miserable enough while there that she asks to be removed."
"Where is she now?" Daphne enquired. If I can't be there for Harry, at least I can be there when Hermione needs me.
"I…I saw her run into the girl's room on the first floor when I was coming back from the greenhouse earlier. The one closest to the stairway," Neville told them. "She was crying," he added in asubdued tone.
"Thanks, Longbottom!" Tracey exclaimed, reaching out and giving the boys arm a squeeze before she and Daphne turned and ran off in the direction of the girl's loo on the first floor.
Neville stood there for several long moments with a befuddled look upon his face and cheeks as bright as ripe tomatoes. "Y…your welcome," he finally managed to stammer out, long after the two witches were gone. Turning, the dazed Gryffindor wizard stumbled into the great hall.
Harry ascended the stairs from the Dungeons, uncertain if he should count himself fortunate or worry about being in some sort of trouble. Escaping the Slytherin common room he had turned right instead of left towards the stairway, as he was fearful that Draco and the others would follow him so that they could make further fun of him. His wandering feet had lead him into alarge room that was filled with ghosts who were in the midst of some sort of celebration. Being the only living soul present Harry had instantly become the center of attention. One ghost in particular, Sir Nicholas, had seemed to be very reluctant to allow him leave.
I wonder if the others are at the feast, the young wizard pondered as he walked down the hallway. It has been hard to being around others today. I just don't know what I should do. The young lad was ill prepared for the multitude of emotions he was experiencing. Harry thought of discussing it with his new friends but had dismissed that idea. I would talk to them but I don't want to trouble them with my own problems.
"Mr. Potter?" spoke up a surprised voice from behind the boy.
Harry paused and turned about. "Good evening, Professor Sinistra. Please, just Harry," the boy added, causing them both to smile slightly at the repeated reminder for her to call him by his first name.
"How are you, Harry?" Aurora asked as she stepped from the adjacent hallway and approached to within conversational distance of the first year student. Now that she knew what to look for, thanks to the discussion she had with Poppy, the signs were clear to see. I don't know how I managed to miss them in the first place. Seeing the boy shrug slightly and drop his eyes to the floor the young professor could tell that something was amiss."On your way to the feast?"
"No. Ma`am," Harry replied softly. "I'm not much in the mood for a celebration," he added upon glancing up and seeing the professor's questioning look.
"No," Aurora intoned slowly as if thinking about it."I guess you really wouldn't be. Follow me," the Astronomy Professor instructed before turning sharply about and marching off in the direction leading away from the great hall. Harry, left with little choice in the matter, hurried after. The two of them passed down several corridors before entering apart of the castle that Harry had never been in before.
"P…Professor, where are we going?" Harry finally dared to ask.
"You'll see," came the ambiguous reply over the professor's shoulder. Several turns later and a few more corridors finally saw the dark skinned professor stopping before a door to what appeared to be aclassroom. Aurora turned and offered the boy a small smile before she opened the door and motioned for him to enter ahead of her.
Harry did as instructed and stepped into a room not unlike the ones he currently sat his classes in. The one difference was that this room was filled with musical instruments. "W…what is this place, Professor?" Harry asked as he looked about with wide eyes at all the instruments, each well cleaned and cared for.
Aurora followed the first year in, closing the door behind her."I guess you might call this my sanctuary, Harry," she replied as she moved past him and down the stairs to the main floor of the room. "When Iwas a student here, not so long ago, I happen upon this room one day. It struck me as rather sad that all these instruments were just sitting here not being used."
Harry, who had followed his professor down to the main floor of the room paused beside a piano, one finger running lightly over the covering of the keys. "Are there no music classes here, Professor?"
"Not for a long time," Aurora informed him. "There are a great many classrooms such as this that haven't seen a student for many adecade if not longer," the young professor added as she walked over and gently ran her hand across the strings of a large harp which had a seat situated behind it. "Do you play anything, Harry?" Aurora asked, turning to look at the boy.
"Piano a bit," Harry confessed, feeling slightly embarrassed. "My aunt loved to hear the piano so she saw to it that Ilearned how to play." Harry's aunt had instructed him with lessons so that she herself wouldn't have to play and yet she would still be able to listen to her beloved piano. Harry had been six at the time and had showed promise for the instrument, rapidly picking it up much as he had the cooking and house cleaning. For nearly two years he had played for his aunt till one fateful day his uncle Vernon had arrive home early without calling ahead of time. The very next day the piano had been sold. In the end his aunt had reasoned it was Harry's fault that her piano was gone, a fact she never forgave him for.
How selfish! To have a child learn to play an instrument just so she could hear it! Aurora thought angrily. "Did you enjoy playing, Harry?"
Harry gave a dismissive shrug, "I guess," he replied. The young boy had greatly enjoyed playing the piano as it allowed him to produce a beautiful sound that had pleased his aunt. I think that is perhaps the only time she was ever close to being happy that I was there, he thought recalling that time. Not that she would ever admit it. "Do you play, Professor?"
"You know, I think it is a bit unfair that you make me call you by your first name and yet you still call me Professor," Aurora said as she walked around the large harp. "I think you should call me Aurora to make it even," she added with a grin.
"B...but…but you're a professor," Harry exclaimed, defensively.
"Do you call your friends by their last names?" Aurora asked as her fingertips brushed the strings of the harp once more, pausing to pluck several different ones.
"No," Harry admitted in a slightly confused tone as he attempted to reason out what she meant. "A…are you my friend?" the confused boy finally asked.
"I would like to be, Harry," Aurora answered as she seated herself in the seat behind the large harp. "I was, with your parents," the witch added, instantly catching the boy's attention.
"You knew my parents?" Harry asked, surprised to find out what he had just been told.
"I did," Aurora confirmed as she moved the chair forward a bit till the curve of the harp rested against her shoulder. "Though not for very long I fear as they were…," her words trailed off as she found it difficult to continue as it might cause him pain and suffering.
"Because they were killed by Voldemort," Harry stated in a flat and emotionless tone as he dropped onto the piano bench.
"Yes," Aurora replied with as her hands gently plucked several strings on the harp, drawing forth a soft tune. "Does that bother you, Harry?" Once again Harry gave a slight shrug without raising his eyes to look at the harpist. "It's alright if you'd prefer not to speak of it," the young professor offered after several long moments had passed.
"Honestly, I don't know how to feel about it," Harry mumbled, just barely loud enough to be heard over the music of the harp."For the longest time I thought that they had died in a drunken automobile accident," Harry told her. "That was all my aunt and uncle would tell me. I guess in that sense I am a little glad as they died for something."
"Lily and James Potter were wonderful people, Harry," Aurora offered. "There are a great many people who wouldn't be here if it weren't for them. They stood up for what they thought was right and were willing to fight for their beliefs."
"I know," Harry replied, a slightly heated edge to his tone. "I've read all about them in the library. They stood up for their beliefs and it cost them their lives. A lot of good that did their son," he added in a tone tinged with anger as well as pain.
"I'm sorry, Harry," Aurora said. "I know it couldn't have been easy growing up without them. They wanted you to have a life free of the Dark Lord. They gave their lives so that you and others could have that. Knowing that must be of little consolation at this time and it must hurt a great-"
Harry gave out a humorless snort, cutting off the astronomy professor in mid-sentence. "That's the confusing part. People believe that I must be feeling terrible because they were killed. I'm the Boy-Who-Lived, when they did not. I can see it in their eyes when they look at me," Harry told her. "Actually I can't remember my parents at all. It's hard to miss something you've never known, so I don't /feel/anything. When I realized that I think I must be a horrible person for not feeling anything for the ones who gave me life. Am I a terrible person, Professor? A freak of some kind?" Harry suddenly asked, his head jerking up to regard the rooms only other occupant.
Aurora beheld the pleading look in Harry's emerald eyes and her heart went out to the boy. With the life he's had it's no wonder he would feel as he does. He's never had anything good in his life. Setting the hard to rest the witch arose and walked over to where Harry sat and then kneelt down before the boy and took his hands in hers. "No, Harry. Terrible things sometimes happen to good people," Aurora told him softly. "That's what happened to your parents…and yourself, Harry. Not having feelings for something you've never known doesn't mean you're a bad person. The very fact that you can question that as much proves that you're a good person!" Aurora told him forcibly."You have a good and kind heart, Harry Potter."
Harry thought over her words for a long moment, wanting to believe her. Is she right? Can Ireally not feel anything because I didn't really know them, he asked himself. I do feel abit proud that they were trying to help myself and other. Better that than dying because they were driving drunk one night as uncle Vernon told it! I just don't know how I should feel.
Harry suddenly realized that despite everything he did feel slightly better. Maybe talking about it with someone else helped? Would it help if I told the others?Harry continued to regard his professor as his thoughts jumped from one thing to another before a measure of calmness came to him once again. "Please Professor, just Harry," he finally said, the corners of his mouth twitching ever so slightly.
Aurora froze for a moment, surprised by the levity of the boy, but was quick to recover. "Only if you call me Aurora," she replied only to quickly raise a hand to forestall Harry objections. "When we are in here," she added with a wave of her hand to indicate the music room itself. "Can you do that for a friend, Harry?" Harry gave a slow hesitant nod of acceptance. "Thank you, Harry."
"Prof…I mean Aurora," the boy quickly corrected upon seeing the witch before him begin to scowl. "C…can you tell me about my parents? I may not know them, however that doesn't mean that I don't want to know them…if that makes sense?"
"How about we save that for next time," Aurora suggested. "I believe you have a feast to get to."
"I'm really not all that hungry," Harry objected with.
"You're a far braver person than I am then, Harry," Aurora answered with, only to see the boys puzzled expression. "Today is Thursday, which means you need to go to the Hospital wing for your treatment," the dark-haired witch reminded him. "I wouldn't want to have go before Madam Pomfrey if I hadn't followed her directions and ate the way I was supposed to." It was all she could do to keep from laughing as Harry's face drained of color. "Off with you now," Aurora added jerking her head towards the door as she said so.
Harry stepped forward and put his arms around the kneeling witch even as he kissed her cheek. "Thank you, A…Aurora," he said, only stumbling slightly over the use of her name.
Shocked at first by the boy's actions, she never the less was quick to return the hug. "Whatever was that for," she asked over the boy's shoulder.
"I feel loads better for having spoken with you, and…" Harry replied as he stepped back a bit, "…friends hug their girl friends goodbye."
Whatever have those three been teaching him? Aurora thought to herself. "Yes….yes they do, Harry," the witch replied. Whatever it is they've done aremarkable job of it! "I'm sure there are three young witches anxiously awaiting your arrival at the feast. So scram!" Aurora said with a grin as she nudged Harry towards the door. The wizard paused upon reaching to doorway long enough to shoot her a bright smile and wave once before he was gone. Slowly the astronomy professor raised a hand to her blushing cheeks."Damn, he got me again," she breathed. Shaking her head to clear it, Aurora rose and cast a silencing spell upon the room before returning to the seat behind the harp and starting to play, a soft smile stuck upon her features.
"Hermione?" Daphne called tentatively after she and Tracey had entered the girl's loo in search of their missing Gryffindor friend.
The sound of hushed crying and hasty sniffles could be clearly heard in the quiet room. "Go away," a pain filled voice finally replied from the end stall. "Please, just leave me be," it begged in a voice thick with emotions and tears.
The two Slytherin girl's exchanged worried looks before moving down along the stalls, finally stopping just outside the one their missing friend was in. "Not going to happen, Granger," Tracey told the distraught girl behind the closed door.
A soft mirthless chuckle, accented by a sniffle was heard."It makes sense. Everyone else wants nothing to do with me, yet when I ask people to leave me be, they won't. Can things possibly get any more messed up than that?" Hermione asked aloud.
"We're your friends, Hermione," Daphne replied, disliking the despair she could here in the girl's voice. Whatever they said to Hermione must have hurt her badly, she realized.
"For now," the bushy-hair witch scoffed. "How long before you want nothing to do with me as well?"
"Why don't you open the door and find out," Tracey replied in an attempt to draw her out of the stall the witch had closeted herself within.
"Do you think I should just be a good little girl and go back to the Muggles where I belong, as well?" Hermione asked through the door."That's what they told me. That no one wants me here and I would be better off going back to just being a Muggle," she told them, spitting out the last word as if it left a foul taste in her mouth.
Daphne sighed upon hearing tearful sobs from the other side of the door and at what had been said to cause them. "They're right foul gits, your housemates, and that Weasley is just a stupid silly boy!" she snapped, her anger getting the better of her at what the Weasley boy had done to her friend.
"They're all stupid silly boys," Tracey added, attempting to lighten the mood a bit. "Well, maybe not Harry," the auburn-haired Slytherin added as an afterthought.
Daphne's eye lit up at the mention of the bespectacled wizard. Of course! she thought to herself. "You can't possibly believe that Harry would ever think that of you, Hermione? After all he's as much your first friend as you are his!"
There was a long moment of silence only broken by a thoughtful sniffle. "N…no…Harry wouldn't do that," Hermione finally admitted aloud. Harry, I think, needs me as much as I need him, the young witch thought as she pondered Daphne's words. We're two of a kind, he and I.
"I bet Harry is at the feast right now waiting for us," Tracey offered, picking up on exactly what Daphne was trying to do. "I would hate not to be there for him. He'd have to sit and listen to Zabini go on and on about Quidditch." Tracey exchanged a grin with Daphne as they both heard a humorous snort issue from behind the closed door.
"At least come out and talk to us about it," Daphne suggested. "We're not going to leave till you do," the Slytherin witch threatened. "Harry will just have to have his ears talked off," she added with a smirk.
There was the faint sound of the latch being drawn. "Alright. Alright, you win," Hermione said opening the door as she hastily wiped at her cheeks. "I must look ghastly!" As soon as the Gryffindor witch cleared the doorway she found herself the recipient of simultaneous hugs."Thanks," Hermione finally managed to get out past the lump in her throat, touched that Tracey and Daphne cared so much for her.
"Next time don't forget that we're your friends and you can come and talk to us about anything," Daphne chided her.
"Not that we don't like hanging out in the girl's loo, mind you," Tracey added with an infectious grin that soon had the other two smiling as well.
"I'll remember," Hermione promised Daphne. "I...I guess I just felt so overwhelmed. I didn't want to bother Harry again as he has enough to deal with. I didn't know what else to do. It was easier to hide away and just do nothing."
"So Harry knew?" Tracey asked, quickly picking up on that detail. Hermione gave a slow uncertain nod and then proceeded to tell them everything, including her and Harry's visit to Professor Sinistra. "You should have told us," Tracey said after hearing the girl out. "We could have figured something out so that it didn't look like you were spending all your time with us."
"Tracey's right! We've been worried half sick about you all this time," Daphne scolded disapprovingly, her arms akimbo."Apparently for good reason too!"
"I'm terribly sorry," Hermione replied, feeling bad that she had caused them such trouble. "I didn't want you to worry which is why I didn't say anything. It seems I inadvertently caused you to worry even more."
"It's as much Harry's fault as it is yours," Daphne told the apologetic witch. "Seriously! Doesn't he realize that we're not his relatives and we'll actually help him?" the mildly irate witch asked in an exasperated tone, only afterwards realizing what exactly she had said.
"What about Harry's relatives?" Hermione asked with an arched brow, instantly attentive at the mention of her favorite wizard.
"W…well…," Daphne stammered as she tried to cover what she had accidently let slip. "I mean, with the way he tried to handle it on his own. He must have been forced to grow up rather self-reliant, I should think," she explained, suddenly finding her mouth devoid of moisture."It just strikes me that if that weren't the case he would have asked for help."
"What is that awful smell?" Tracey suddenly exclaimed halting the conversation as Hermione and Daphne suddenly noticed the odor as well. All three girls turned and looked as the doors to the room opened and alarge green behemoth entered, having to bend severely at the waist to even get through the doorframe. It quickly became apparent just where the foul odor was emanating from. As one, the three witches let out an ear piercing scream which caused the troll to scream as well.
Harry retraced his steps after making several wrong turns but finally managed to find the corridor which would lead him back towards the grand stairway. I should apologize to them, he reasoned as he walked along. I've been avoiding them all day and I'm certain that they are worried about me. It still amazed him that he had friends who would worry about his wellbeing. Harry grinned as he heard Tracey's voice chastising him for not coming to talk with them sooner.
The young wizards thought were interrupted as a shrill scream echoed down the stone corridor only to be followed by a bellow of anger that Harry was fairly certain hadn't come from any human's throat. Without even thinking about it the young wizard broke into a sprint in the direction of the scream he had heard. Whatever could have made that noise, he wondered even as he realized that the first scream was that of a girl's. Reaching the corner the boy paused, uncertain of just where to go when there was a sudden crashing sound that emanated from the girl's loo, quickly followed by several terror filled screams.
Harry quickly drew his wand as he ran towards the location of the screams. The young boy paused at the entrance to the room, realizing that he was about to tread where no boy ought to, the girl's loo. The sound of splintering woods and frightened screams drove him forward through the doorway. Entering the room the young wizard froze in his tracks.
The scene which greeted his eyes was like something out of anightmare. The stalls in the room had been reduced to little more than kindling. Several of the porcelain washbasins were broken and lay upon the floor in pieces as water sprayed from the walls where they once were affixed. Harry's eyes were instantly drawn to the enormous creature standing before him though. What is that? A distant corner of his mind wondered absently even as he realized that whatever it was, it reeked of something foul.
"Hermione!" Harry heard Tracey's scared voice call out, snapping the wizard from his stunned state. A quick glance between the monster's legs showed him the auburn-haired witch and Daphne trying to pull Hermione out from under a pile of wooden fragments which must have been the last two stalls only moments before.
Harry thrust his wand out before him as his mind screamed the word to a second year spell he had read about. Diffindo! The severing charm hit the back of the troll's leg, doing little damage due to the creature's thick skin. The creature didn't even seem to feel it. Harry watched in horror as the troll raised its huge wooden club and brought it down swiftly in an attempt to squash the three witches who barely managed to avoid the blow. Their actions however moved them into the corner where they had nowhere left to run to. Another Diffindo had as little effect on the creature as the first had.
They're going to die! Harry's mind screamed as fear for his friends gripped his heart in its cold grasp. I can't save them! Anger at his own inability to do anything flared within the young wizard. They're my friends! They've always been there for me. I have to save them! A soft rushing sound, not unlike a heavy breeze blowing through the branches of the Forbidden Forest, started within Harry's mind. As his anger grew at his own failure to protect his friends, the sound blossomed into that of a rapidly flowing river, gaining in strength with each passing heartbeat. As the Troll raised its club again, Harry let loose once again with a Diffindo. The spell, powered by Harry's own fear and anger, opened a long gouge along the back of the creature's leg which started to bleed profusely.
The Troll bellowed in pain and surprise as the gash appeared in its flesh. Turning to see who had dared attack it from behind it spotted the young wizard standing there with his raised wand. Even as the presence of the small boy registered within the creatures mind, pain flared in the troll's chest as it was hit with another overpowered spell. Reacting instinctually, the troll slammed down its club in an effort to protect itself from further harm.
Harry stumbled backwards, barely being missed by the enormous club after hitting the troll in the chest with another spell. Incendio! Harry watched as the wooden club burst into flames. Great!I've given it an even better weapon, Harry realized as he turned tail and ran through the double doors of the loo and out into the hallway. The doors behind him exploded in a shower of sparks, wood and flames as the burning club slammed through the obstructions, making short work of it. The force of the explosion knocked the boy across the hall and into the wall.
Harry scrambled to his feet, wincing as a sharp pain flared to life in his left side. The injured wizard turned about just in time to see the troll exiting the girl's loo in pursuit of him. Am I going to die? the distant corner of Harry's mind wondered as he slowly started to back away from the beast. The noise within Harry's head grew in intensity from a river to that of raging white rapids. I need to get it away from the girls, he told himself as he tossed off another Diffindo, opening a gash along the troll's forearm and causing it to bellow out in pain.
The three witches slowly made their way out of the destroyed room, wondering just who had saved them. They could tell that spells had been used yet none of them had heard a single word spoken. "We should go find more professors to help," Daphne said as all three of them stared at the retreating back of the mountain troll that had attacked them. "We need to get you to Madam Pomfrey as well," she added, seeing Hermione clutch an injured arm to her chest. From the bushy-haired witch's expression it was easy to tell she was in a great amount of pain.
"I wasn't quiet fast enough that last time," Hermione said upon seeing the concern on their faces. Her left arms was hurting a great deal and might even be broken she realized. When she had dove for cover as the troll had swung at the last stalls, its club had grazed her arm. "I'll be alright," she added, putting on a brave face despite the growing pain.
"Harry!" Tracey suddenly exclaimed staring down the hall. The other two witches turned to look in the same direction only to see the dark-haired wizard backing through the archway which lead to the grand stairway, with the troll following after him as it swung its burning club back and forth before it. "It was Harry," Tracey adding in a disbelieving tone as fear for their friend clutched at all their hearts.
Harry continued to back away from the advancing troll even as he fired off another Diffindo, opening another gash along the creature chest. It appeared as though the thick leather vest the creature was wearing had absorbed a good portion of the spell's damage though. Within, Harry could feel the magic building, much as it had within the library during the pin incident. I can't lose control here. I have to get further away from them. It was only a matter of time before he lost the battle, either with the troll or with the magic fighting to break free of his waning control.
The first year wizard continued to retreat, drawing the enraged creature with him by continually tossing spells at it. Why won't it die? the small portion of his mind that was still rational asked. I swear I'm going to learn more spells if I survive this! The troll's chest and arms were covered by at least a dozen cuts. Distracted by his own thoughts the wizard had to hastily dive out of the way of the fiery club and was only partially successful as pain exploded in his thigh.
Harry rolled when he hit the floor to gain some distance from his attacker, coming to a stop at the foot of the grand stairway. A quick glance down at his leg revealed the reason for the pain as his kin smoldered where the fire had severely burned him. I have to get it away from here, he thought as he raised his wand and flames poured forth from its tip, driving back the advancing monster. Ignoring the pain as best her could, the boy stood and grasped hold of the railing, before he started to climb the stairs one step at a time.
Everyone should be at the feast, he reasoned as the churning magic within him continued to struggle to break free. "Not yet," he said aloud, his first words spoken since entering the girl's loo. Reaching the landing the boy turned about and watched as the troll reached the foot of the stairs, a puzzled expression appearing on its face. Any hope that Harry had of the creature not being able to use the stairs vanished as it placed its foot upon the stone stairway.
Harry could hear the steps crumble under the weight of the monster and the staircase itself seemed to groan in distress. I have to lead it higher, he thought as he made his way up the next flight of stairs to the second floor. Behind him he could hear the troll laboriously following in pursuit. Due to its longer legs it was climbing at a much faster rate than the first year wizard.
The Slytherin wizard cried out in pain as shards of stone assailed him, several of which cut through his clothing to lodge themselves within his back. Quickly looking over his shoulder, Harry saw the troll pulling its club from the wreckage of the stairs directly behind him. The troll had tried to hit him and as the weapon crushed the stairs it had sent stone fragments flying like projectiles in all directions.
His quick glance had also shown him the three witches that were watching anxiously from the corridor opening leading to the girl's loo. Even as he watched he saw all three cast spells which seemed to be completely ignored by the troll pursuing him. Why are they there? They should have gotten away already!
Harry raised his wand to cast another spell only to fall backwards. Having taken his eyes from the troll he had failed to realize that it was attempting to hit him once again. Falling back upon the stairs saved his life but not his foot which exploded in white hot pain as the club landed upon it. The troll, seeing its prey helpless, raised its burning weapon for the killing blow.
I…I don't want to die! Harry screamed silently as he raised his hand in a futile attempt to protect himself from death. Consumed by fear and blinding pain, the magic within the boy sprung forth from the raised appendage in a dazzling ray of molten magical energy which struck the raised club, causing it to instantly explode into a million pieces. The troll, unaware that its weapon had been destroyed, continued with its swing only to pause and look at the piece of club that yet remained in its hand. Its small brain couldn't comprehend where the rest of the club had vanished to.
Using the beast's momentary distraction, Harry used his arms to pull himself up to the third floor landing. It wasn't long before the troll was once again climbing the stairs after him. I have to go higher, he told himself one again. He could feel the magic inside straining to come free again. "They're too close. Can't risk injuring them," he said aloud as he started to work his way up the stairs to the fourth floor.
By the time he had reach the landing midway between the third and fourth floor he had reached his physical limit. Never a particularly strong boy to begin with, Harry's muscles quivered as he propped himself up against the railing, too exhausted to go further. This will have to be far enough, he reasoned as he watched the troll's head ominously come into view as it climbed the stairway from the third floor.
Just as the young wizard was ready to surrender to the raging power within him, the stairway shifted, moving the stairs he was on away from the ones that the troll was even then climbing. The troll, upon reaching the top of the stairs went to take the next step only there was nothing for its foot to rest upon. Seeing the beast teetering upon the edge of the stairs Harry yelled Accio Monster! As he pointed his wand at the troll. Magic, being mostly concerned with intent, didn't care that the monster was a troll, only that the caster thought it was amonster.
If I can just pull him a bit forward he'll fall, had been the wizard's thought, certain that the plummet would kill it. The distance between Harry and the troll was just long enough for the first year wizard to recall the warning which was part of the Summoning spell. 'This spell should not be used on items that are larger and heavier than the caster.' Harry flew through the air till he came to a rather abrupt stop when he collided with the troll's chest. Instinctually the boy grabbed ahold of the creatures leather vest to keep from falling nearly four levels to the stone floor below. The impact of the small boy had apparently been efficient enough to push the teetering troll back so that it regained its balance.
The two combatants eyed each other with equal parts surprise and confusion. Harry absently realized that his wand had somehow ended up lodged within the creatures nose a goodly way. There was a long moment of utter silence, broken only by the ominous creaking of the stairs they stood upon, then Harry yelled in fear and the troll bellowed in anger and reached for the small boy.
"NO!" Harry screamed, the wild magic within him finally bursting free of his control. There was a moment of intense heat and then what sounded like a clap of thunder before Harry found himself falling through the air only to land upon something hard and unyeilding. At least I can't feel the pain in my foot anymore, he absently thought as his sight started to dim. He had lost his glasses during the fall and without them the world looked upside-down for some reason it seemed. "I hope they're alright," Harry mumbled, his last thoughts being concern for his friends before darkness claimed him.
"HARRY!" all three witches on the first floor screamed at once. Their friend had seemed doomed for certain only for them to see the stairs shift, taking him away from harm. The next instant they had stared in disbelief as The-Boy-Who-Lived was suddenly flying through the air directly at the troll. It wasn't but a moment more before the troll's entire head just seemed to vanish and then its entire body glowed a brilliant blue and exploded in a bright flash of magical energy.
What had caused all three witches to scream though was the sight of Harry's body falling through the air. Each girl knew they were watching the last moment of their friend's life. Just when there appeared to be no hope at all, the stairway to the second floor chose that moment to move. The young wizard's body landing on its back over a railing with a sickening thud one wouldn't normal attribute to a human body making. It sounded more akin to acarcass being thrown upon the table by some butcher instead.
"We have to get him!" Tracey yelled as she raced towards the stairway with Daphne and Hermione only a step behind as the remnants of the troll rained down around them.
"We have to be careful moving him," Hermione cautioned."If his back is injured we could do serious harm to him."
The three witches hastened up the stairs, the figures in the paintings urging them on, till they reached the landing only to see that the stairs which Harry was currently precariously dangling from had stopped moving while it was still out in the middle of the stairwell. The distance between where they were and he was currently was far too great for them to leap cross.
"Let's levitate him," Tracey suggested.
"We'll have to do it all together," Daphne reasoned."He's far heavier than a feather is." Tracey and Hermione nodded in agreement, the latter of the two still holding her injured arm to her chest as she gritted her teeth and tried to ignore the pain racing up the damaged stairs had caused her.
All three witches raised their wands, equally determined expressions upon their tear streaked faces as they intoned the charm, Wingardium Leviosa! Slowly the unconscious wizard's body rose from the railing and floated towards the witches. Working together they managed to bring Harry to them and gently lay him upon the landing they were on.
"I need a house elf!" Daphne snapped as she took Harry's cold hand in hers.
There was a small 'POP'and suddenly there was a small creature with large ears and big wide eyes standing beside Daphne. "Whats can Bizzel do for you young Miss?" it asked with an eager smile.
"We need Madam Pomfrey and any other professors you can gather quickly!" the blonde witch exclaimed.
The startled house elf blinked, suddenly realizing the state that the students were in, covered with dirt as well as the blood and gore as well amidst the destruction that was spread about the scene around them. Without afurther word the elf disappeared only to reappear in the midst of the great hall before the Headmaster of Hogwarts.
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