Harry and Neville go to see Dumbledore
Harry didn't tell Blaise (or anyone else, for that matter) about his brush in with Pansy, so things continued as if it had never happened. Harry was sick to admit to himself that he had been tempted by the slytherin girl's offer, and felt even sicker with himself when he caught himself thinking it over in his head about actually accepting. Orion made him feel a little better by saying she was a girl that had tried to seduce Harry, and it was only natural for him to day dream about it.
An owl swooped down to Harry at breakfast and dropped him a letter with the Hogwarts seal on the back. Curiosity peaked, Harry opened it to reveal the headmasters loopy handwriting.
Harry, please report to my office at seven o'clock this evening, and make excuses for being away for an hour.
Harry quickly put the parchment away in his pocket and told Blaise, Ron and Hermione that he had to go and see Dumbledore in the evening before getting up and heading out to his Herbology lesson with Neville and Hermione. Herbology was probably Harry's weakest subject in the NEWT courses he had chosen, but sticking near to his two friends meant that he always had the help he needed. Neville's hand went up more than Hermione's did in the lesson, and he won thirty points from answering questions. Herbology was followed by Transfiguration, and Harry almost skipped so he wouldn't have to get a lecture from McGonagall about using magic in the corridors (even though it had been an advanced piece of transfiguration).
Blaise sat next to Harry and he gave her a strengthening smile, which she returned. She had just had an Ancient Runes lesson, and looked quite tired as he looked her over. Her lips tightened and she glared down at the table as the door to the classroom opened and closed, and Malfoy sauntered in as if he owned the place. Harry gripped her hand to comfort her under the table and she clenched back somewhat, smiling briefly. Her eyes looked ready to shed tears, and Harry began stroking her hand at Orion's advice, and it seemed to work in calming her down.
Professor McGonagall walked in through the door and shut the door behind her with a snap.
"Congratulations to those of you that have made it into NEWT level transfiguration," she said, looking around sternly. "As you all know all too well, transfiguration can contain the hardest and most complex spells you will learn at Hogwarts, and this year will not be an easy ride in this classroom. Those of you who have not yet studied for an apparition licence will be required to in this subject, and human transfiguration will also be in order - although I have heard that some of you," here she glared at Harry, although he could have sworn he saw laughter in her eyes, "are already adept in this branch of transfiguration, and I expect high marks in everything. I will not tolerate anything less than absolute commitment to achievement and punctuality - if you are late, don't come at all, and you can see me after hours to find out the homework and any punishments you may be receiving.
"I'm sure that most of you will have heard this already, but the period between now and Christmas is a trial time in which you can change your selected subjects if the ones you are transferring to accept you. To be honest, some of you will not stay in this class passed Halloween, I am sure. Human transfiguration is extremely difficult, and requires a lot of knowledge before attempting to try it, so today we will be having a mostly theory based lesson. Open your text books to page twelve, and read the section on human transfiguration. After that, you will be learning what you need to know about transfiguring the person next to you. If you all finish quickly, I may start to instruct you on the correct way to go about transfiguring a human. Begin." Harry was strongly reminded of Umbridge's lessons the year before, but he knew how much you had to know before attempting human transfiguration - Orion had spent three hours telling Harry how to do it perfectly, and even now he couldn't transfigure anyone into anything bigger than a dog.
Blaise and Harry partnered up, and they started remembering every feature of each other - Harry knew how to do it easily enough; it required thinking about each part of the body you were going to change in turn, and then imagining it changing into the part of the animal you were turning it into, which was why Viktor Krum had only been able to change his head during the second task of the tri-wizard tournament. Seamus had been Harry's first attempt, and his second, Malfoy, had been slightly off.
The lesson went by and Professor McGonagall explained about the thought involved, and had time to demonstrate this on a nervous Seamus before the bell went and Harry headed up to the common room for a break with 12 fresh inches of parchment that needed filling about human transfiguration. He sank into his favourite chair next to the fire and checked his schedule. He had no more lessons that day besides another Care of Magical Creatures after lunch, before which he had an hour to relax
in. He decided against it, though, and quickly wrote his foot long essay and checked it over, put it in his bag and went down for an early lunch. Blaise had Arithmancy after Transfiguration, so he entered the hall alone and served himself some ham and cheese sandwiches and pumpkin juice, and spoke to Orion about certain duelling techniques.
/Orion went on wistfully while Harry ate. /Harry suddenly had a daydream of being in a duel, and a spell coming towards him. His hand shot out and his wand absorbed the spell as he twirled around once, gaining momentum and whipping the wand around and back at its caster, where the spell kept moving when he stopped and hit the caster in the chest.
After putting up with Orion for a month, these memories Orion could give him had lost their startling effect on Harry, but the information was still valuable - returning spells like that was a good defensive counter attack, and he now had the memory of using it to learn from. This sort of thing had been common over the summer, and Orion used it as a teaching method for most things.
Harry headed out to Care of Magical Creatures alone and met up with Hagrid a little early, helping him move the hippogriffs into the pen outside his cabin more quickly and then meeting up with Blaise, Hermione and Ron as class started.
Hagrid took them through caring for hippogriffs - how to clean their feathers and feed them and so on, and Harry listened with mild interest, watching the others answer questions and gain points for Gryffindor, firmly looking away from Pansy Parkinson.
He ate dinner quickly that night and headed up to Dumbledore's office, where he found the aging Headmaster and Neville Longbottom waiting for him at the entrance. Harry looked quizzically at Neville as he approached, but brushed off the feeling of unease and announced his approach so that Dumbledore (who was talking to Neville) would see him.
"Ah, Harry - if you and Neville could just follow me up to my office, we will begin." He turned to the gargoyle and said, "Fizzing Whizbee!" to which the gargoyle sprang aside and they continued up to his office.
A cauldron frothed in the middle of the room over some blue flames, and Harry wondered what the professor had been brewing, looking to Neville again for any clues but gaining a blank look in return. Neville himself looked nervous and confused, so Harry turned to Dumbledore to find out what was going on. The old man filled two goblets with the potion and sat down behind his desk, looking tired but pleased.
"I assume," he started, regarding them both over his half moon glasses, "that neither of you know why you are here?" they both shook their heads and Dumbledore nodded, pulling out his wand and conjuring two chintz armchairs and indicating that they should be seated. He then continued.
"When a child is born with magical capabilities to already magical parents, their full amount of power asserts itself very early on, usually in the form of volatile, spontaneous and uncontrolled magic powered by their emotions. When such an event occurs, it is standard practise for the family in question to bring in a powerful witch or wizard to perform a binding on the child's power, so that it is safer for the child to live. Being that both of you are quite powerful - yes, you too, Mr Longbottom - this was done when you were babies and only a month and a half old."
"Wait, so someone put a block on our magic when we were younger?" Harry asked, slightly annoyed. "Why?" Dumbledore nodded in response to his first question, then sighed, having a faraway look in his eyes as he spoke.
"When a baby wants something, it cries. That crying develops into powerful emotions because it can't communicate what it wants or needs, and those emotions can cause an accidental release of magic that might cause the baby's crib to burst into flames, or the house, when the baby is more powerful than usual. Using a magical seal is the only sure way to keep them and their families safe from harm. It requires the presence of three fully grown witches or wizards, and a potion. This potion here," he said, indicating to the cauldron next to his desk, "will lift the seals that have been placed upon you both, and I feel I owe one of you an apology." He turned to Neville and looked at him gravely. "I am sorry it was not me that placed the seals on you, Neville, as the witch that joined your parents in doing so was a bit... overzealous when choosing how much power should be blocked, and I fear that is the sole reason for your lack of self confidence and lower grades. After these seals are lifted, I expect you will become a much more confident person around other people." The old man smiled kindly, and Neville nodded, blushing. Harry was glad that Neville might be getting more confidence - it was the one thing he lacked through all his qualities.
"So who put the seals on me?" Harry asked, looking at Dumbledore. "I mean, I assume my parents helped, but you said a third was needed. I have had a reasonable amount of power, I would like to think - have the seals been broken accidentally?" Dumbledore chuckled and shook his head.
"The two of you were born with abnormally high levels of power, and so more than one seal was placed on you - three in all; they were for your protection and you were left with a normally developing power increase, Harry, while Neville was blocked sufficiently to make his Grandmother and Uncle believe he was a squib for some time. I am afraid I should not have allowed Emmeline Vance to perform the seals on you, Neville, but I could not do two sealing's in one night and she was the only witch capable of doing such a thing that was available to us in the Order of the Phoenix. I was busy that night because I was at the Potter's, performing the sealing on you, Harry, and trying to convince your parents to go under the Fidelius charm.
"Today is sixteen years precisely since your magic was sealed, and now it has to be released. You will each drink from these goblets three times, once every ten minutes, during which I will take off the seals using a rather long bit of spell work. I fully expect you will both be feeling extremely energised after this, so don't expect to need much sleep tonight. Now, if you would drink up, please..." Harry reached for his goblet and Neville did the same, knocked back the contents and felt it tasted rather salty and thick, but not as disgusting as some of the other potions he had tasted in the past (Skelegrow came to mind). Dumbledore was chanting under his breath, eyes closed and, wand in hand, and suddenly Harry felt as if he had just had a weight removed from his shoulders. Dumbledore opened his eyes and smiled.
"That was the first seal," he said, sitting back in his chair. "In five minutes you will drink again and I will lift the second seal, and one last time after that and you will be in complete control of all your magic besides that kept back naturally." Harry nodded numbly and filled his and Neville's goblets and placed them on the table to be ready. Five minutes later, a clock chimed and Dumbledore told them to drink and began chanting again. This time Harry felt a tingle go through all his limbs, and it was followed by what felt like an electric shock. Neville seemed to be having the same side effects, as he yelped in surprise.
The last seal to be broken made Harry slightly light headed for a moment before he got his senses back and looked around the room. He could feel the magic around him, in the wards of Hogwarts and the powers that strolled around the castle. Neville looked awed, and Harry could see none of the nervousness that had been present earlier. Dumbledore smiled at the both and told them that if they had any questions, they would have to wait for him to rest, and dismissed them both.
"How different do you feel?" Harry asked Neville as they descended the stairs outside Dumbledore's office. Neville grinned and he sounded so much more confident it was hard to believe it was the same person from an hour ago.
"I feel as if I've been reborn," he said, laughing. "Can we go to the room of requirement to see what we can do? I'm dying to know how much I've improved with this..." Harry shrugged and agreed, and they took off at a run, both wanting to see how much they had changed and not quite believing it had happened. They made the room become a training ground and they started by practising on training dummies, and Harry immediately noticed that Neville's aim was a lot better. He then suggested a friendly duel to see if they could see any other differences. Neville agreed and started quickly, moving with a grace that looked unnatural on the slightly chubby boy, but was matched by Harry's own movements. They weaved between obstacles and dodged curses, and Neville even made Harry have to return a couple through the technique Orion had shown him, and both were amazed at how much they had changed.
"I wonder how much power they sealed in us," Neville mused as they sat drinking some chilled water, which Harry preferred to cool down than butterbeer.
"I don't know, but I think you had more sealed than I did - proportionally, you've improved much more than I have." Harry was not about to point out that he still had the advantage over Neville as being slightly stronger and having vastly more experience, but still feeling proud of the other boy as he looked around the room - everything had spell damage on it, and they had been duelling for a whole hour before they decided to give it a break. Harry got the feeling of hidden powers from Neville now even stronger than before, and could now /see /it around him in an aura of power.
/ /Harry eagerly let Orion come forward and listened intently as he spoke.
"Neville, do you feel anything... different about me right now?" his voice asked, and Neville looked at him strangely, squinting.
"Well... I see someone that isn't Harry - that's a mask, isn't it?" he shook his head as if to clear it, and suddenly his wand was in his hand, pointed at Harry's head. "What happened to Harry?!" Harry came back to the front and pushed Orion aside.
"I'm here, and the other was called Orion. He and I fused over the summer and we share my body," he explained, hands held up to show he was not threatening in any way. "It was a test to see if his theory about you is true - and he's pretty confident it is now." Neville lowered his wand but remained standing. Harry let Orion forward and his lips began to speak.
"When I saw you on the train, I got the feeling that you were a mage of a sort called a soul searcher. They are witches and Wizards that can read a person's soul by looking at them, and sometimes see the strands of destiny and future in symbols around the person in their aura. In ancient times they were used as aides to people of power to see assassins and spies with ease," Orion explained. "Most people with mage powers can sense other mage powers, and I saw yours fully just now, after the seals were lifted from you and Harry. You should be able to see something about shadows about me...?" Neville nodded, squinting. "That is because I am a shadow mage; I can melt into shadows and use them to move around if I wish. You have the ability to sense things about people that they keep hidden - to see who they truly are, and what their intentions are, for example." Neville sat down again and breathed deeply.
"Is that why I've been feeling something strange coming from Snape for all these years?" he asked with a slightly nervous chuckle, and expected his friend to laugh but Harry looked thoughtful.
"You know, you might just be right," he said, smiling. "Snape /is /a spy - he was a death eater but turned during the first war against Voldemort and became a spy for Dumbledore. He is now a member of the Order of the Phoenix, as were both our parents." Neville nodded, relieved, and sighed.
"This," he said, looking at the floor, "would explain a lot. I sometimes see flashes of things around people - I once saw a sort of aura linking Ron and Hermione when they were sitting in the common room, and the night Cedric Diggory was to die, I saw his face turn into a skull and back. I thought I was just imagining things..."
They remained silent for a while, and Neville said he was starting to understand patterns within his 'visions', and their meanings. They made their way back to the common room, looking around for people as they went (they weren't supposed to be out of the common room this late), but came to the common room unchallenged. As they entered, they both stopped and looked around at the people there.
"What do you see?" Harry asked Neville quietly, and Neville squinted while looking at Ginny (who was spending time with Noah, a new boy in her own class), Blaise (who was standing to greet Harry and Neville) and also at a second year who was studying alone.
"I see Ginny is infatuated with someone, Blaise has a broken heart, and the second year is frightened of someone..." he trailed off as Blaise came over and asked where they had been, to which they told her they had been to Dumbledore to have the magical seals on them lifted. They moved into the common room and Harry threw himself down into a chair, across from Neville, who kept looking around the room, checking on people. Sometimes he would know what the visions meant, and others he had no idea - like when he saw several animals around Ron, all looking up at him. Neville didn't seem tired at all, and they stayed talking about different possible meanings of the things he saw while the played wizard's chess until the sun rose and everyone else started to come down for breakfast.
Harry's lessons that day (DADA, Transfiguration, Herbology and Charms) were pretty good, and he noticed that Professor Gordon had warmed up to him considerably since his detention, and no longer reminded him that he was on probation every five minutes. The DA members all achieved top marks, she informed him after lesson, and many of those same members were so jazzed up by their defence lessons that they pestered Harry about the DA to the point where he couldn't take it anymore and just set the time in the coins Hermione had made the year before, setting the time for the next day at seven O'clock. That night, Harry made his way to Dumbledore's office to talk to him about the artefacts he had been collecting. The aging headmaster offered him a seat and a sherbet lemon, to which Harry accepted.
"So, what can I do for you, Harry?" he asked, and Harry took out the amethyst orb and the jade figurine he had received from Mundungus over the holidays. Dumbledore looked at it inquisitively for several moments before looking to Harry for an explanation, an eyebrow raised.
"I was not as idle during the holidays as I made out to be, and I had Mundungus do a few jobs for me - while he was not on duty for the Order, of course. Orion told me of several artefacts when I first fused with him - ones with the symbol you see here, and I asked Mundungus to look out for them and spread word to his contacts to do the same. By the time I was to leave for the start of term, he had come through spectacularly and delivered several items to me, which I have not had time to experiment with up until now. There are two types of the artefacts - the ones made of amethyst negate all magical activity in a field around it, preventing any magic from being cast from wands or other magical foci for some time. The artefacts made of Jade hold within them special branches of magic that cannot be created with a wand and, for a time, will have special magical effects. Once they run out of power, the artefacts need time to recharge - usually a full day." He paused to let this all sink in and Dumbledore reflected upon it for some moments before he indicated for Harry to continue. "I thought the orb would be a good defence mechanism to add to the Entrance hall, perhaps - if the castle were to be attacked, the enemy would be bottlenecked there, and without the ability to use magic, they would be easy to keep long enough for aurors to arrive with some kind of physical barrier. What do you think?" Dumbledore quickly agreed and asked how to activate the orb.
"It requires a movement of raw magic, not from a wand. If you're able to do any sort of wandless magic, then activating them is simple - extend your magic out through your hand and touch the orb. Once you've done that, it will negate all spells in the area and only wandless magic can be used - apparition, animagi transformation, etc. To deactivate it, simply repeat the process." Dumbledore tried and the field crackled to life as a wave of coldness spread out to the walls and ceiling, stopping a simple levitation charm from being used. He was also able to turn it off easily, and Harry told him to keep it in case of attack. Dumbledore accepted and then asked a question Harry had not expected.
"What do you plan to be doing about the DA?" he asked, and Harry bowed his head, pulling the figurine back to him and into his pocket.
"I had planned to end it," he said shortly. "I nearly got six friends killed last year, and I don't intend to make a mistake with it again. I was a fool to think I could make a difference, and twice the fool to try. All it did was hurt my friends and get my godfather killed. I am not fit to head the club anymore, and we now have a very competent teacher for DADA, so it's no longer needed anyway." Dumbledore shook his head and looked slightly angry, leaning back in his chair before responding to his student's claims.
"That is unacceptable, Harry," he said, sounding annoyed. "Professor Gordon came to me this morning asking why she hadn't offered you her position, and it was only because you still have two years left of school that I did not. Every DA member received an O in their DADA exams last year, and at least an E in charms. So you see, you /did /make a difference. Harry, I want you to continue the DA - teach them defensive and offensive spells that you studied over the holidays, and maybe some of Orion's spells, as well - anything that could help them later on. You will receive help and guidance from the other teachers if you wish, and Professor Gordon is behind you one hundred percent, as am I."
Harry eventually gave in. He was going to have to think up a plan for them, but he decided to do it - he spent the rest of that night going over things to teach them, and decided upon first working at their physical abilities - evasion and stamina mostly, and also work on some more advanced shield charms on the side.
Everyone turned up promptly, even Zacharias. The only people missing were last years seventh years, Fred and George and Cho's friend, Marietta, and Harry didn't seem to be too bothered about her not being there, although Harry was sure Cho was still rooting for her friend - she had been the year before. They all sat in their usual places, and Harry smiled at them all. Blaise had joined them, sitting as close to Harry as possible and looking like some sort of outcast. Gina and Dee had also joined, sitting close to each other and Hermione, Ron and Neville, watching Harry intently.
"This year will be slightly different from what you are used to doing," he began, looking around them. "We will not just be covering spells and hexes - we will be working on dodging curses as well, and ways of blocking spells that doesn't involve shield charms." The others looked at each other, confused and nervous.
"Err... What do you mean, ways of blocking spells without shield charms?" Zacharias asked, and Harry invited him to try and curse him. Zacharias fired a stunner and Harry waved his wand at a bookshelf and a book flew from it to intercept the spell, flopping to the floor when it had served its purpose.
"Like that," Harry said to the awed crowd. "I will also work on getting you to dodge curses and improve your aim on moving targets - real duellists don't stand still for you to take your shots at them, so neither will you."
He started them off by pairing them up - one person to practise their aim, one to practise their dodging in different areas of the room, and Harry moved from one group to another, helping them by pointing out their weaknesses and rearranging their methods of aiming. Every so often he would shout "Switch!" and the partners would instantly swap over, so that the previous person that was dodging was now attacking and vice versa. At ten to nine they broke the group, most talking enthusiastically about the previous lesson and looking forward to the next. Harry watched as most left while he cleared away the things that had been toppled onto the floor and cleaned away the remains of two cushions that had exploded thanks to a stray curse from Parvati and Luna. He turned to leave and found that Cho had stayed behind, obviously wanting to talk to him. 'I just hope she doesn't start crying again,' he thought, and Orion agreed.
"Hey, Harry," she said softly, walking over. "I tried to talk to you on the train, but... well, I couldn't get you alone." She scowled at the memory but came back to the present again. "I was just wondering... well, thinking that maybe we could go to Hogsmeade together sometime? On a Hogsmeade weekend and, and hang out..." Harry sighed and resisted the urge to bang his head against the nearest wall, although that wall did look very tempting.
"Cho, we tried this, remember? It didn't work - in fact, it failed spectacularly. I was surprised you even turned up tonight, I thought you were going to stay away because of Hermione jinxing Marietta." Cho scowled again and Harry cut her off before she could say anything about Hermione. "And before you say something along the lines of, 'oh yes, I forgot you liked Hermione Granger' or something like you did last year, I can tell you right now that nothing is between us besides friendship. If there was, I'd be dead by now seeing as she is dating Ron." Cho gaped at the last part and Harry made towards the door, but she grabbed his arm before he could leave.
"Wait," she said, sounding slightly desperate. "Can't we just give it a try? The Hogsmeade thing, I mean - I'm loads better than I was, I talked to my parents about Cedric all through summer... please?" Harry took his arm back and shook his head.
"I'm sorry," he said flatly. He then remembered what had been said on the train home and frowned. "Aren't you going out with Michael Corner?" She blushed and muttered something that sounded like 'well, not really'. She cleared her throat and said it louder.
"N-not really - we were together for a bit, but I like you loads better and -"
"Cho, I'm not going to go to Hogsmeade with you - I don't want to talk about Cedric and I don't want to watch you cry again, or be told how a bunch of other guys asked you out or made to feel that I can't have any female friends. I'm sorry, but I don't feel the same about you as I used to. I can only see you as a friend." He delicately walked out and left her to her thoughts. Blaise was waiting in the corridor for him and smiled as he came up to her.
"Hey, what did Cho want?" she asked casually, and Harry told her she had asked him to go to Hogsmeade with her. Blaise looked at him strangely when he said he had turned her down. "Don't you fancy Cho or something?" she asked, and Harry chuckled.
"I used to," he admitted. "But she never talks about anything except Cedric Diggory or how someone else asked her out when we did go to Hogsmeade together, and I really couldn't stand her crying about Cedric, either. She said she's over it, but I can see she's not. I realised I didn't like her when on the train home last year." Blaise nodded and they stopped outside the portrait.
"Harry, will you give me extra DA lessons?" she asked, speaking quickly. "I know you've got lots of work to do, but if you could spare some time, doesn't matter when... so I can catch up to the others - I don't know half the curses Hermione threw at me, and I could see she was choosing really low level ones."
"Err... Tell you what; I'll give you some lessons whenever we both have a free period, ok? Friday afternoons we're both off, right? I can teach you then if you want," he said and received a smile in response.
"Thanks, Harry," she said, giving the impatient Fat Lady the password to the common room.
Harry was doing exceptionally well in all his lessons, averaging an E to O for every piece of homework submitted by the end of the first week. His one on one session with Blaise went well, and he managed to teach her to use the disarming spell within the first hour. They spent two hours for their first lesson, and she got pretty good at disarming him, and she had begun to learn the impediment jinx as well before they decided to get an early dinner.
Blaise seemed slightly more distant as she stared at her food, and moved it around with her fork. The hall was not very full at this time - a few second years were the only others at the Gryffindor table, and they were sitting at the other end. Harry put his knife and fork down and put his arm around Blaise's shoulders. She leaned into his embrace slightly and shook for a moment before relaxing.
"What's wrong, Blaise?" he asked, and noticed a solitary tear fall from her face to her plate. She sniffed and leaned into Harry for a moment before smiling at him and removing his arm.
"I'm fine," she lied, and Harry raised an eyebrow at her. She looked away from him and went back to staring at her plate. "I just wish I had joined the DA last year... I could have done something then. Something other than run away - and I didn't even do that right!" she put her fork down and got up. "I've had enough to eat, I'm going to the common room... I'll see you up there?" Harry nodded and watched her leave, finished his own meal quickly and followed. He had noticed her getting paler and paler recently, and was now starting to get more worried than usual - he couldn't remember when he had last seen her eat except for a couple of days ago... she had looked weak and tired in transfiguration... had she eaten at all?
He turned a corner and just in time to watch her collapse on the stairs. He ran to her limp body in time to catch her head from hitting the stone, and looked down to her extremely pale face. Her breathing was soft and she whimpered slightly as he lifted her up. She was thinner than he had thought - she was always wearing a robe whenever he saw her now, and it covered her midriff perfectly for this... he started running towards the hospital wing, Blaise in his arms, and somehow didn't see anyone on the way. He kicked open the door to the infirmary, and saw Madam Pomfrey about to chastise him for his reckless entrance when she saw he was carrying Blaise, and now only pointed to a bed, where Harry put down his friend and stepped back to allow the matron to have no obstructions.
"What happened," she asked, looking over Blaise and checking her pupils.
"She just collapsed," Harry said, worriedly looking down at her. "I don't think she's been eating, though - the last time I know she ate for certain was at breakfast on the first day of term," he said, and Madam Pomfrey clucked and muttered some things for a while - Harry caught /'anorexia running rampant... modern girls being made to feel big and ugly...'/, but the rest was said too low for him to hear.
She pulled a potion off of the top shelf in her cabinet and poured some into Blaise's mouth, which swallowed quickly. Blaise's eyes fluttered open and she groaned.
"What happened?" she asked groggily, and Madam Pomfrey asked her in gentle tones when she last ate. "I had dinner a few minutes ago," she sad, and Harry sat down next to her.
"And you didn't eat a single bite, Blaise. Tell her the truth, please." She shuddered and began crying as he took her hand to comfort her.
"I haven't eaten since lunchtime on Wednesday," she admitted, sniffing. "Not properly. I had some chocolate this morning..." Harry tried and failed not to feel sick with himself. /'How could I have not noticed?!' /he asked himself in rage.
Madam Pomfrey ordered Harry to leave despite Blaise's protests, and Harry promised he'd be back in the morning - she was going to have to stay over night to get her strength back. Harry slumped into a chair as he entered the common room and sighed. It had not been good to realise he had not been looking after Blaise, and he felt like he had let her down immensely.
"What's up?" Gina asked, sitting across from him. The fire gave a little heat out and Harry sighed, staring at the flames for a bit.
"Nothing," he said, figuring it would not make him feel better to alienate Blaise from her friends.
He waited for the common room to empty before he opened his mind to the night outside - cloudless and full of stars, he found himself going a bit too far and watching the whole dark side of the Earth from orbit. He calmed himself and focussed in on Britain again, and tried to search for death eater activity, and when he found none, he looked for the order members he knew - Mundungus was just stumbling out of a bar and disappeared holding an empty ale mug (Harry suspected it was an illegal Portkey); Mad-eye was scrutinizing the contents of a parcel with his wand and looked displeased, probably because it was just a letter and a cake from Arthur Weasley about upgrading some wards around Grimmauld place. Kingsley was inside the Ministry of Magic, but he couldn't find Mr or Mrs Weasley - they were in the well lit Burrow, he supposed, and he continued on.
When he looked for Tonks, however, his mind flashed with rage - he found her by looking through a dirty window, bound to a table while four death eaters took turns on casting the cruciatus. They were asking questions, and Harry forced his way in immediately, ready to kill. He moved into a position and noticed that the death eaters had taken a break.
"Crucio," one death eater said, and Tonks was hit with another cruciatus curse, making her scream in agony. When he took it off, she panted and whimpered slightly, but didn't thrash anymore. "Good, now tell us what the Minister has been ordering the Aurors to do about the threat of the Dark Lord," he ordered, waving his wand threateningly. When she didn't say anything and continued to stare at the ceiling, he laughed menacingly and leant down to speak in her ear. The other death eaters moved to the walls and many looked as if they were about to watch a good film.
"The Dark Lord has been very generous, auror," he whispered, a hand snaking its way to her chest and groping around. She winced in disgust but didn't respond. Sweat had formed from all her thrashing and previous torture, and his groping continued. "He said that if you were uncooperative, we were allowed to use whatever means necessary to extract the information - as long as you would still be able to tell us. That means that if you refuse to tell us, we'll be forced to find some other way to occupy our time... and all we really need to take care of is your mouth." he gave a much stronger grope and his hand went down and began undoing the zip of her khakis, and she whimpered in horror, but she didn't start talking. The others jeered as the interrogator made to rip her trousers open, but fell to the ground as a blade punctured the side of his head and left a fountain of blood in its wake. The others jumped to action, and another died with a knife thrown from a shadow on the wall, then another and finally the last was taken out by Harry slashing their throat from behind. He quickly disposed of the restraints and pulled her into a hug as she realised who it was.
"Jesus, thank God it was you, Harry," she whispered, and smiled slightly. "Do you know where we are?"
"No, but that doesn't matter much - we're leaving," he said, looking around the room for anything of interest but finding none. "We're getting out of here now. Can you stand?" She nodded and slid off the table, retrieving her wand from one of the dead death eaters and headed for the door.
"Another auror was taken at the same time - they put him in another room, I think. We have to help him!" Harry nodded and they began a search, Harry changing to Shadow and shifting Tonks with him, making the search end quicker. The other auror was being held in a room down the hall from the one he found Tonks in, and Harry and Tonks stunned the two death eaters working on him (practicing their cruciatus curses), and Harry melted into shadow, letting Tonks pretend she had escaped alone and not with any aid from, of all people, Harry Potter. Harry kept close to them as they made their way out through a window in the room to a country side with no houses in sight. They quietly made their way to some woods before apparating to auror headquarters. Harry left one body in the room Tonks had been in and transfigured the rest of the bodies into thumbtacks, pushing them into the wall and leaving. Tonks was being cared for by a medi-witch by now, and when the healer's back was turned, he whispered her story into Tonks' ear and disappeared, making sure she wouldn't get into trouble.
He got back to Hogwarts just as the twilight was beginning to appear, and he slipped into a chair by the fireplace to relax for a few hours before the others woke up. He read a little and was glad that he had been able to help Tonks, but wished he had done it sooner - the cruciatus could be devastating, he knew - he had seen the Longbottom's, and the thought of anyone else ending up like that made his stomach turn. He made his decision then - he decided that he would not allow anyone else to die if he could prevent it.
"I won't let the death eaters get away with anymore killing or torture," he promised to no one, his voice firm. "From now on, if I can help, I will - even if it means my own sacrifice!" Anger flashed within him, and Orion chuckled.