Hi everyone! Thank you SO SO much for your patience. I'm so sorry it took me so long to write another chapter, with the holidays and some personal stuff going on it took me a while to get back on track, but now it's all good. Hopefully from now on I'll be able to post chapters more frequently. You all are awesome, and thank you for reading! Here's the next chapter! - PinkRoseKoolKat

Raising Harry: Chapter 23

After Harry's first Quidditch match success in mid-November, things settled down a bit. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Mary had been doing well in all their classes, thanks to Hermione's reminders to everyone to finish their homework, as well as Ms. Mystic helping them each with their studies when needed. Things had been going pretty smoothly for the four Gryffindor students, until one day, they came across something they shouldn't have: Fluffy.

One day Harry, Ron, Hermione and Mary, who were also joined by Neville Longbottom, were on the changing staircases to hurry back to their dormitory to study. Suddenly, the staircase took a different turn, and they all looked at each other, with confused looks on their faces.

Hermione said with a slight gasp "This is the third floor, Dumbledore said it was forbidden!"

Neville said with a slight tremble "W-we should probably go back down the stair-" but he was cut off by a loud "Meow!"

The five students looked around until they spotted a long-haired, somewhat scruffy-looking brown cat. It stared at them intently with piercing golden eyes, and meowed loudly again.

Startled, and knowing that Filch was probably not too far off, they ran as fast as they could to the nearest door they could find. Harry tried the doorknob, and said in a nervous tone "It's locked!" Hermione quickly pulled out her wand, and pointed it at the door, saying "Alohomora!" causing the door to open with a creak. The five students ran inside and closed the door until it was just a small crack to peer out of.

Harry watched from the crack of the door the hallway carefully, and saw Filch carrying his lantern, and looked around for any slight movement. Then he looked to Mrs. Norris and said "Come, my sweet, we'll find 'em."

As Filch and Mrs. Norris set off in the opposite direction, the five children sighed in relief, but the relief didn't last long. The moment they turned around, they regretted it: there, standing thirty feet above them was a very large, three-headed black dog. Ron whimpered a little, Hermione and Mary held back gasps; Neville looked as if he might faint, and Harry gulped nervously. The dog began to growl, which was so loud the ground began to shake beneath them, so the five of them couldn't hold it back anymore: they all screamed and ran out the door as quickly as they could.

Ron and Harry slammed the wooden door and locked it behind them as quickly as they could before all five of them ran back to the Gryffindor Common Room. They reached the portrait of the Fat Lady (quite out-of-breath and looking very pale), and Mary gave the password before they hurried inside.

They were alone in the Common Room (thankfully) and they collapsed on the crimson sofas with exhaustion, thankful that they didn't become the three-headed dog's next meal. They sat there for a few moments, catching their breaths before Hermione spoke up, asking "Did anyone else notice that that dog was sitting on some sort of door?"

The other four looked bewildered, and Ron said exasperatedly "Oh for Merlin's sake Hermione! We were all trying not to get eaten by that dog, what made you think we'd pay attention to what it was sitting on?"

Hermione glared at Ron, and Harry thought back to that moment, and remembered he did glimpse over something on the floor. He said "Yeah, actually, I thought I saw something. But the question is, why would that dog be sitting on it, unless-"

Mary finished his sentence as the thought popped in her head "It was guarding something…"

Each of them had wide eyes as they thought about what was just said.

Neville asked "W-what could it be guarding?"

Ron shrugged and said "Dunno. Treasure?"

Harry asked "But why would Dumbledore, er, Professor Dumbledore, hide it here if it was treasure? Why not put it in Gringotts?"

The five of them thought over this for a few minutes longer, before Hermione stood up and said "Well, I don't know about you four but I'm going to go to bed before any of us come up with any more ideas to get us killed. Or worse - expelled."

Mary smiled and rolled her eyes at her friend's sarcasm, and Ron, Harry and Neville looked as if they might laugh as they too headed to their dormitory.

Ron told the other two boys as he shook his head, "She needs to sort out her priorities."

They all chuckled as they went to their respective beds and got ready to sleep for the night. Before Harry fell asleep, he thought about what could be beneath that three-headed dog. Surely it wasn't of much importance…

Back at McGonagall Mansion with Katrina…

Katrina had just finished eating some ice cream with cinnamon apples on top, her favorite midnight snack when she couldn't sleep. She was restless that night, thinking about a lot of things. In less than a month it would be Harry's first holiday from Hogwarts, and she wanted to make it special. She also thought about Sirius, and wondered how he was doing since she saw him about a month ago. She hoped that he was taking good care of himself. Just as she was washing and putting away her bowl and spoon, she heard a tapping on the window. The sound startled her and she almost dropped the bowl, but thankfully she caught it just in time. She placed it on the counter, and saw through the window there was a small brown owl. She let it inside, and it landed on the counter in front of her, a letter in it's talons. She was about to stroke the owl's back, but it almost bit her.

She jumped back, and said "Okay okay, um, thanks." As she took the letter and read it:

"Dearest Katrina,

Yes, before you worry (which I know you have been), I am alright. I'm sorry for the late reply, but it's been hard to track down an owl I could borrow to send you a note. I can't tell you how good it feels to be free, even if I am in hiding. I am now in Scotland, and have been enjoying the scenery. It's so beautiful out here, the open skies, the smell of nature, everything I took for granted before I was in you-know-where. And before you ask, yes I am taking care of myself. I hope that you are doing alright yourself. I will send you another letter as soon as I can.

Love,

Snuffles"

Katrina smiled as she read the letter, grateful that Sirius was alright and was happy. She remembered that she made a loaf of bread the other day, and decided to wrap it up and send it to him, along with a letter of her own.

She wrapped up the bread in some plastic wrap and then some brown parcel paper, and tied it up neatly with some string. She then scribbled a note and folded it neatly. She then realized that the owl's talons might pierce through the paper and get to the bread, she searched (and found) a small paper bag that she put the bread and the note in. Before she gave it to the owl to deliver, she gave the owl a biscuit from a plate that she left out earlier.

She told it "Please give this to the man who sent me my letter."

The owl ate the biscuit quickly and seemed to understand as it flew out the window. Katrina watched it fly into the moonlight, and hoped the letter would arrive quickly. She then closed the kitchen window and went to her bedroom to get ready to sleep.

Later that morning…

Sirius had woken up from his slumber in the forest, and as he sat up in his sleeping bag he noticed something flying in his direction. As it came closer, he recognized it as the owl he sent to Katrina the other night! The owl dropped the bag into his lap, and he saw something wrapped up, and a note. He opened the note first, which read:

Dear Snuffles,

I'm so relieved to hear that you are safe! I have missed you so. Though I wish you didn't have to remain in hiding, I'm glad that you are enjoying your freedom. You deserve it. I'm sure it is lovely over there, and I hope that you can continue to see more beautiful sights! After the holidays coming up in less than a month, I do hope that you can visit me again. Please stay in touch.

Love,

Katrina

P.S. Here is a little something for you in case you're not eating enough. I can't imagine food is easy to come by too often, so whenever you send me a note I will send you something to eat.

Sirius smiled as he opened the parcel: It was a loaf of country bread. He broke off a piece of it and began to eat it, and offered a little bit to the owl as well. As the owl finished and flew off, he thought about his next travels, and how glad he was that Katrina was his friend.