Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
After hiding his new broom in his room, Harry limped over to the hospital wing, with blood coating the back of his legs. If things had worked his way, Poppy wouldn't have caught a sniff of him until the next potions class but fate had it that he must suffer at the hands of the enraged matron.
He reluctantly stepped into the hospital wing to notice the glaring absence of Poppy. He did another thorough search and headed over to Poppy's office at the right most corner of the wing.
But before he could barge into the room, he heard a voice that sent a chill down his spine. It seemed that Professor McGonagall deemed that this was the best time to have a chat with Madam Pomfrey. Gulping down the heart that stuck in his throat, Harry swiftly turned his back to the door.
Poppy, he could barely handle. But Poppy and Minerva? He was seven years too young to deal with them without risking his life. He trudged ahead to the exit but his bleeding leg sealed the deal for him.
"Going somewhere, Harry Potter?" the sickly sweet voice of Poppy reached him.
Harry slowly twisted on his heels, with his trademarked sheepish grin plastered on his face. "Ah, it's no problem, Poppy. I won't dare to disturb you during break time."
"I'm sure Madam Pomfrey can make time for her student," McGonagall smiled thinly.
"It's nothing!" Harry waved his hands frantically as he stepped back. A droplet of blood dripped down his leg to land on the white tiles of the wing.
"Is that blood?" Poppy rushed over to him and eyed the back of his leg. "You ran away from the hospital wing and then, you come back with a bleeding wound!"
"I couldn't wait to see you until our next class?" Harry tried in vain to mollify the witch who seemed about ready to burn him to a crisp.
"On the bed. Now!" was the reply.
Harry cringed in fear as Poppy glared at him and paying no heed to his injury, he rushed over to an empty bed. "How about we call it a truce?"
The answer came in the form of a sharp twinge of pain that traveled down his legs. "You won't be able to move your legs until I release the spell. So, I suggest that you don't make any further attempts to escape."
"Vicious!" Harry mumbled to himself but at Poppy's scathing look, he nodded hurriedly. "Duly noted."
It was an hour later that Harry gave in to his tendencies and gently moved his leg to check whether the spell was still functional. It wasn't.
Silently, he rose to his feet and inched forward with the finesse of a fox preying on a chicken.
"Nearly an hour. That was more than what I was expecting from you, Mr. Potter."
Sadly, the finesse was futile under the hawkish gaze of the hospital matron.
"I am bored out of my mind," Harry complained as he sighed, sorely disappointed at being caught. He should have known that he couldn't hope for a miracle twice.
"You are completely healed, Mr. Potter," Poppy let out a rare smile. "You have no obligation to remain under my care."
"Really?" Harry must not be blamed for the evident skepticism in his tone. He would vouch against himself if the time ever came, for he knew he deserved it and then some more. Poppy was more than kind to let him out of her clutches after half the things he had done.
"Yes, Harry. You are free to go," Poppy insisted, with the smile still present.
"Okay," he drawled in doubt and took a step back. "Thank you, Poppy."
He should have realized it when she smiled or at least when she used his first name but after an hour of rest, Harry was not in the right mindset to perceive the warning signs blaring around him.
"But you have a detention right now," Poppy continued as though he hadn't interrupted, with her tone taking an aggressive edge. "There's no way in hell that I am letting you out again."
It took a few moments for Harry to realize that he had been deceived. By the hospital matron, no less. But when the realization hit, it arrived with force, and he pointed a quivering finger at Poppy. "I knew it!"
"Don't blame it on me," Poppy huffed with indignation. "I have decided to cancel your detention but then Ron Weasely runs into the hospital wing, crying that he is suffering from hallucinations."
"Oh, what to do with that kid?" Harry lamented with a shake of his head.
"Seriously, Harry?" Poppy slumped in exhaustion. "You fool the boy into believing that he is dying and then he requests me to revoke your detention."
"Brilliant, right?" Harry grinned with a sense of accomplishment.
Poppy visibly shook with rage. "I have half the mind to tie you to the bed until the Headmaster himself comes to the rescue."
Harry was unperturbed. "That's asking a lot from Professor Dumbledore, don't you think, Poppy? I am sure he has many important things to do."
A few minutes later, Professor McGonagall entered the hospital wing to find Harry Potter bound to the bed, covered from head to toe in bandages.
"Why am I not surprised?" McGonagall whispered to herself as she sat down on the chair beside Harry's bandaged form.
A muffled reply came from the boy, earning an exasperated sigh from the aged Professor.
"I wonder why it's so difficult for you to stay normal, Mr. Potter. That's not asking much, is it?"
Another incomprehensible response.
"I believe that it is to be expected, considering that your father was no better at following rules when he was a student here. Remus's presence certainly doesn't help matters in that regard."
She glanced at Harry, waiting for him to say something but then she noticed the bandages tied around his mouth. If McGonagall had been a schoolgirl, she would have smiled sheepishly but instead, she waved her wand, loosening the bandages around his head.
"I think I can't feel my legs," was his first statement, followed by a sigh of relief when he wriggled his toes and found that his limbs were still intact. "Now that I think about it, it's my arms I can't feel."
"I can guess what happened that resulted in this," McGonagall gestured at his form.
"I want to press charges on the account of abuse," Harry tried to cross his arms across his chest but when he realized that he can't move his hands, he settled with narrowing his eyes.
His stare had no effect whatsoever on Professor McGonagall. "Hospital matrons have the power to take necessary precautions if they find the need. Madam Pomfrey is well within her rights to subject you to any kind of treatment."
What McGonagall said went right over his head. "I suspect power corrupted our kind and caring matron."
McGonagall simply rolled her eyes. "This is the second time you have reported concerns regarding your potions professor."
"I sense a pattern," Harry whispered in horror. "What if the potions position is cursed?"
McGonagall, for her part, tried her best to restrain the urge to smack her forehead but it happened anyway. "We don't want the rumor mill fabricating another theory about how the potions position is cursed."
"True," Harry nodded in contemplation. "So, what are you doing here in the hospital wing, Professor McGonagall?"
'This boy...he has the attention span of a goldfish,' McGonagall thought with a shake of her head. "Why, to check upon you, Mr. Potter."
Harry was surprised for a moment but then a pleasant warmth spread across his chest. McGonagall, who noticed that Harry had suddenly fallen silent let out a small but genuine smile play on her lips. Beneath the mischievous and troublemaker persona, there was a little boy starved for affection.
"So, how are your studies coming along, Mr. Potter?"
"Ah, about that!" Harry eyes abruptly shone with enthusiasm. "I was thinking about how the amount of power we put into the spell affects the transfiguration."
McGonagall blinked in surprise at the sudden question. "Hmm. What kind of transfiguration are you talking about?"
"Like the one we did in class. Turning a matchstick into a needle. So, if I put more power into the spell, can I turn beams of wood into metal bars?"
"Yes, it does work for simple transfiguration like this but the amount of power you need to put into the spell is enormous, in a manner of speaking. But for human or animal transfiguration, the power of the spell is not a deciding factor as much as the intent behind the spell," McGonagall informed before narrowing her eyes at Harry. "I hope you are not delving into the animal or human transfiguration already."
"Not at all," The conviction in his voice seemed to appease McGonagall. "It's just a passing thought."
"Good," McGonagall nodded as she stood up. "Now I am going to relieve you of these bandages. You won't be leaving this place or causing any more trouble, is that clear?"
"Sure, Professor. No leaving the place or causing trouble. I understand."
McGonagall gave one last doubtful glance before waving her wand. Harry let out a cheer as he waggled in his place after the bandages disappeared, forcing McGonagall to stifle a chuckle.
After McGonagall left, Harry leaned on the bedpost as he twirled his wand between his fingers. 'What to do now?'
His gaze fell on the array of hospital beds beside him. A light bulb lit up in his head as his gaze fell on the metal legs of the cot. 'Might as well test the theory I've learned today.'
Pointing his wand at the bed, he made the necessary wand motions for the transfiguration and watched as the metal was slowly replaced by wood. But then the spell was cut off midway and Harry frowned as he felt a sense of fatigue hit him like the Hogwarts train.
He blinked his fatigue away before trying the spell again and this time, the entire metal was replaced by wood but he could see visible cracks spread over the wooden legs. 'So, it is possible but the transfiguration will be weak and lasts for less time. Having a highly efficient wand is like cheating, I guess.'
He nodded to himself before practicing the spell on the other beds. By the time he reached the sixth bed, he was already swaying in his place and within moments, he fell onto the mattress, with his hand hanging limply by his side.
He woke after what felt like a few hours when he heard a commotion in the hospital wing and he opened his bleary eyes to find the Gryffindor quidditch team stumbling into the hospital wing in exhaustion.
"Which desert did you guys get lost in?" Harry turned to the Weasely twins, who were leaning on each other.
"Our captain is a training nut," answered Fred.
"Calling him a nut is an insult to nuts all over the world, brother," George added.
"Too true, Forge."
"Mr. Wood! What did I tell you last week?" McGonagall appeared once again in the wing but this time her voice was downright murderous.
"I think I am dying, Gred."
"The situation is not as worse as it looks, Professor!" Oliver shuddered under McGonagall's gaze.
"Hold on, Forge! The help is just around the corner."
"Merlin, I can't see! Gred, this is your hand, right?"
Gred gasped. "It's my leg."
"Did you by chance forget that there are classes tomorrow?"
"It has been a beautiful life, Gred"
"Healer! Healer! The condition is critical. Red alert! Red alert!"
"No, Professor McGonagall."
"I am sorry for leaving you all alone in this cruel world, my less handsome twin."
"You are dying a virgin. You should be sorry for yourself, my foolish twin."
Madam Pomfrey arrived with an expression on her face that stated just how delighted she was about finding seven dirty quidditch players in the hospital. The players staggered over to the beds and collapsed on them, while Madam Pomfrey muttered to herself in indignation as she prepared strengthening potions for the patients.
Harry got the feeling that he was forgetting something and that feeling only intensified as he heard distinct creaks echo in the wing.
His eyes widened in horror as the realization hit him and he yelled with a sense of terrifying urgency. "Get down from the beds!"
Six resounding thuds filled the hospital wing as the beds broke under the strain and the pained groans of the other students made a shiver run down Harry's spine. Just when he thought that it was over, the seventh bed creaked ominously and Oliver gave a half-shout before the bed gave up its struggle. Harry cringed as the last thud reached his ears while his mind already resigned to the fact that it would be a long time before he would have a day without detention.
A silence that could suffocate people made its presence known in the wing.
"Is it Death I see in the corner of my eyes, Gred?"
"I think it's Professor McGonagall, Forge."
"There are only two times when the hourglass of any house is empty during a term. Do you know when Mr. Potter?" Dumbledore spoke as though they were discussing the weather.
Harry shook his head in his answer.
"At the start of the term and at the end after the house cup is awarded," Dumbledore answered as he stroked his beard in contemplation. "But now, we find ourselves in a rather peculiar situation. The Ravenclaw hourglass is suspiciously empty and the students of the house are very concerned regarding the matter."
Harry felt as though the Headmaster was trying to add salt to the wounds by explaining everything to him as like he was a child and that too in the most boring way possible.
"Do you know of the reason, Harry?"
"Professor McGonagall has temper issues," Harry replied with a shudder.
"Yes," Dumbledore agreed to Harry's surprise. "Especially when the students of her house are harmed."
"This may feel like a lazy and repetitive excuse but it really was unintentional!" Harry threw his hands up in defeat. "I was just practicing, sir."
"In a delicate environment," Dumbledore added, with his eyes twinkling like mad. "Fifty points to Ravenclaw for accomplishing transfiguration beyond the scope of a first year."
Now Harry was sure that the Headmaster was purposely trying to rub in the issue. "Thank you, sir."
"And a hundred points from Ravenclaw for attempting it in the hospital wing."
Harry nearly fell out of his chair in incredulity. "I don't think there were any points left to take after the first fifty."
"A grave issue that must be resolved immediately, then."
Harry would have sighed in exasperation if he wasn't sitting before one of the, if not the most, powerful men in entire Britain. It was like they were revolving in circles around the topic, waiting for the moment when Harry would finally snap. He hadn't believed when people said that Dumbledore could be one of the most infuriating people you could ever meet; The headmaster was so much fun back then!
"What do you think we should do, Harry?"
"I don't have a clue, sir."
"Hmm," Dumbledore peered over his spectacles to stare at Harry. "How about I propose a solution?"
'Like you should have done an hour ago?' It's not as though Harry had any other way but to accept his fate. "What is it, sir?"
"In return for replacing the points you lost, let's schedule a detention once every month for the rest of the year," Dumbledore placed his elbows on the table before crossing his fingers. "How does that sound, Harry?"
'Like the sound of my freedom screaming in horror.' Harry couldn't hold back a sigh. "With you, sir?"
"Good deduction, my boy. You are learning already."
Harry shifted his gaze from the smiling Headmaster to the cackling phoenix on the perch. At least someone, even if it's just a flaming bird, found his predicament amusing.
He suppressed the sudden urge to test the theory whether phoenixes were actually immortal. So, when the headmaster offered him lemon drops as a parting gift, he pocketed the whole box just out of sheer spite.
Harry's eyebrow hadn't stopped twitching since he left the headmaster's office and the student body's not-so-subtle whispers weren't helping. Once again, he found himself walking beside Tracey and Daphne, with Tracey snickering uncontrollably – one of the many reasons for his current ire – and Daphne was as emotionless as usual.
Daphne's usual reaction should have mollified him but somehow he only got more annoyed by the fact that even this hellish situation wasn't enough to produce a reaction out of her.
"Even the dragon in the forbidden forest found this whole thing hilarious," Harry remarked as Tracey lost herself in a fit of giggles.
"There are no dragons in the forbidden forest," was Daphne's only comment.
Harry smirked. "Exactly."
Daphne bestowed him with a blank stare that would've made any lesser man drown himself in humiliation. Harry was way past that stage and simply shrugged it away like he usually did.
To Harry's surprise, he noticed Terry, Lisa, Susan and Hannah coming in the opposite direction. "Hey! What brings you this way?"
Their faces lit up at the sight of Harry, with Susan answering Harry's question. "We were searching for you actually."
"Bet you missed the Headmaster's office."
"Again, Harry?" Lisa sighed. "That's not a classroom, you know, to visit twice every week."
"Your sarcasm, as usual, is highly unappreciated," Harry waggled his fingers before gesturing to the two girls beside him. "By the way, this girl who just can't stop laughing is Tracey and the one who looks like she wouldn't care if we set ourselves on fire is Daphne."
"Tracey, Daphne, these are my other four best friends."
The two groups were introducing themselves to each other when somehow, the boys were separated from the girls. Harry and Terry were standing by the wall while the five girls were discussing matters that were entirely obscure to the boys.
"We are surrounded by five girls," Harry remarked out of the blue. "Are we the minority, Terry?"
Terry went pale at the thought. "I feel so..."
"Small," Terry finished.
"I can hear my manliness dying a painful death."
"You are eleven," Lisa can't help but add.
"At such a young age too," Harry gave a mournful sigh. "By the way, Daphne?"
Daphne seemed relieved at the interruption, judging by the speed at which she responded to Harry's call, and in an instant, she was by his side, looking at him expectantly. "Hmm?"
"Not here," Harry pulled her along with him by her shoulder, while waving back to his friends with the other. "I'll see you guys in a few minutes."
"If only there were a bit older, I could have already written a novel about forbidden romance," Hannah voiced out, earning incredulous looks from the other four.
"What? The chemistry between them is plain as a day."
"Sometimes I can't help but wonder what goes on in your head," Susan shook her head in response.
"You said you want to see a dementor, right?" Harry spoke once they reached a desolate corridor.
"Yes," came the only response.
"Of course you did. Why am I even asking?" Harry mentally berated himself for even expecting her to back to out. Sometimes he wondered just which of them was more insane. "How about this Saturday, while the quidditch match is happening?"
"I see. The professors will be busy with the match, so no one will notice if we venture into the forest."
"I couldn't have framed it better," Harry wiped a fake tear.
Daphne inclined her head in what could be confusion. "Why is it that you always try to act so dramatic?"
"I am compensating for the lack of emotions on your side," Harry answered without missing a beat.
"What do you mean?" There was that odd tilt to her voice again.
Harry patted her on the head with a smile. "I'll make sure you understand someday."
"I still don't understand."
"Someday, Daph. Not now."
The sky was bright and clear of any clouds when Harry and Daphne began traversing down the rugged pathway to the forbidden forest. They could hear the noise and cheering of the other students in the background after the Quidditch match started but that only made them walk even faster.
"Is this your first time into the forest, Harry?"
"I regularly come here for a stroll during the night."
Harry sighed. "I was being sarcastic, Daph."
"So, why did you leave a card at Hagrid's hut?" Daphne asked after a few minutes.
"Preparing for emergencies."
A pause. "Are you being sarcastic again?"
"It's too dark in here, isn't it?" Daphne asked yet again.
A bizarre thought struck Harry's mind. "Are you afraid, Daphne?"
"I thought that was obvious."
'It never is,' Harry mused. "Whatever gave you that idea?"
"I believe I talk too much when I am afraid," Daphne divulged in a whisper.
"First time I am hearing it."
"I thought that's what people usually do," Daphne said as they jumped over a gigantic root.
"Different people have different reactions to fear," Harry remarked as he cut a large branch obstructing their way with an overpowered 'Diffindo.'
"What is your reaction?"
"I stop talking."
"Are you afraid, Harry?"
"Scared out of my mind, to be honest," Harry replied as another chill ran down his spine.
"But this was your idea," Daphne pointed out as though that simple fact made everything alright.
"That's not how things work, Daph," Harry shrugged but in their pitch-dark surroundings, he doubted if it's visible.
"You make everything so complicated."
Harry let out a small smile. "For reasons unknown, I am very glad I am not taking this trip with some other person. God knows it will be a catastrophe if both of us are freaking out."
"I am freaking out," Daphne said with a straight face; an expression so different from what she was saying that it wasn't even funny.
"Oh, you have no idea."
"The trees are getting huge. This one's bigger than the Ravenclaw tower!" Harry exclaimed as gestured towards the tree beside him.
"There is an acromantula infestation in the middle of the forest. So, obviously the trees will be big if they are homes to such big spiders," Daphne answered like she was explaining that the sky was blue.
Harry paused in his step, with his mouth hanging open in horror. "Wa..wait a minute! Spiders? What do you mean, 'spiders'? Why is it always the spiders? That's a cliche!"
The moment he finished, he heard scuttling of the said spiders around him and the horrid sound was accompanied by the clicking of their pincers. Their next few steps led them into a hollow ridge that had been cleared of trees and sunlight shone down upon the worst scene that Harry had ever seen.
Spiders, as tall as Harry himself, were spread around the clearing like pebbles on a beach and judging by their excited whispers, their intentions were less than generous.
"Aragog!" One of the spiders whispered as it clicked its pincers rapidly. "Aragog!"
From the misty, domed web emerged a creature that resembled an elephant rather than a spider and its eyes were a milky white, showing that it was blind.
"Who is it?," the raspy voice of Aragog echoed in the clearing.
"Humans," one of the spiders rubbed its pincers in excitement.
"Is it Hagrid?"
"Strangers," the spider answered with delight.
"Kill them," clicked the Aragog fretfully. "I was sleeping..."
"Woah, Woah, Woah! Wait a minute," Harry took a step forward, raising his arms in surrender. "I don't know how things work here but eating anybody who enters your home is not the way to deal with it."
Aragog remained silent but the others were not so courteous. "I want to eat him first."
Harry's lips pulled into a line. "Let's settle this peacefully?"
One of the spiders jumped forward threateningly and Harry threw a card out of sheer fright. The card embedded itself in the thick hide of the acromantula and then it disappeared with a click of his fingers.
"People say I'm insane when I try to be normal," Harry informed as he flashed the set of cards he had at hand. "Right now I am terrified out of my wits and I have fifty cards at hand. Do your math."
"What did you do to my son?" Aragog demanded with a hint of trepidation in his tone.
"What will I do with a giant spider?" Harry shuddered at the very thought. "I sent it to Hagrid's hut. No way in hell I'm teleporting that thing to my room."
"You are friends of Hagrid?"
"Friends is a term I use loosely," Harry answered with a shrug.
"So if we leave you then you will never enter this place again!" Aragog commanded and Harry backed away as he nodded rapidly.
"Even if I do, I will leave this place as fast as humanly possible," Harry added after a moment of thought.
That seemed to appease Aragog and he backed away into his web after ordering the other spiders to leave. The spiders looked unhappy at the lack of an afternoon meal but obeyed their father/ leader.
Harry fell down to his knees once they left the clearing. "That's the most frightening thing I've ever experienced in my life!"
"Yes," Daphne nodded in accord.
"And what the hell were you doing while the spiders were cooking a recipe with me as the main ingredient?" Harry couldn't help but shout, though it lacked the necessary energy or aggression.
"I stayed silent, hoping that the spiders would ignore me. They could have asked one of us in exchange for letting the other leave," Daphne answered like it was the most obvious thing. Which it might be for all Harry knew. "You were doing excellent on your own."
"That's..." Harry pondered over it for a moment. "Not half a bad idea."
"Logical in the face of unpleasant death," Harry noted to himself that it should be one of the qualities he must develop. "And you didn't even freak out when I teleported the spider."
"I did freak out," Daphne pointed out.
"You call that 'freaking out'?" Harry deadpanned. "You know, I am starting to love this...when someone around me is not freaking out at everything I do."
He ignored Daphne's comment of 'I was freaking out!' with extreme prejudice. That just didn't count.
"Let's say, will you be my accomplice?"
She didn't even take a moment to reply. "No."
Harry slumped in disappointment. "This doesn't seem to be working out. Let's just stick with friends for now."
"For now? What after that?" came the question laced with curiosity.
"Now this you care about?" Harry threw his hands up in defeat.
After a few minutes of walking, they came upon a gigantic tree that dwarfed all others and its branches were wide enough to provide shelter for a few dozen meters. Harry stared up at the sky through the cracks, searching for the presence of any dementor. If he was here, then there's a good possibility that one of them was nearby.
His intuition proved correct a moment later as a misty chill glided through the air to reach them. It was as though an ice-cold snake was creeping up his form and twisting its coils around him. It was not a good feeling.
A card automatically settled between his fingers as the form of the dementor came into the view, with his other hand holding his silver wand. "We don't have Sirius Black with us."
Daphne was frozen by his side but as was common these days, the dementor ignored her in favor of Harry. Her pale skin was deathly white right now and her irises were like frozen chips of ice. Her fingers were clenched into fists and she seemed to take breaths with great reluctance.
None of them were good signs. Especially when it was Daphne; the girl whose knowledge regarding said emotions was lacking, to say the least.
He shifted closer to her, for her own sake if not for his. The dementor didn't seem to be too unnerved by his sudden motion and simply continued gliding over to them at a painfully slow rate. It looked like it was being… cautious?
Harry brought his wand forward once the dementor was close enough for the mist in front him to condense. "Expecto..."
The dementor's bony hand shot forward and instead of snapping away at his wand, it's lengthy fingers plucked the card out of Harry's hand. Harry was too shocked, and not a little terrified, to maintain his grip on the card.
It placed the card in front of its face, as though checking it over, but in an act that would give Harry nightmares for months, it sucked the magic right out of the card! A moment later, a powerless, simple, muggle playing card fell down the air at Harry's feet.
Harry blinked. His shoulders fell down as the tension left him but his body remained motionless in sheer disbelief. He picked up the card lying on the ground and it flared to life at his touch. He gave it a flick and it sailed over into the distance.
The dementor flew after it, racing after the card like a dog does with a bone.
For the second time that day, Harry found himself on his knees on the ground but this time the fear was replaced by...disbelief? Incredulity? Hilarity?
"What do dementors eat to live, Daph?"
Daphne started at his question but answered it anyway. "Souls, I think."
"No," Harry shook his head. "Soul is like a wrapper around a chocolate or the packaging around a food item. I think they devour the magic people have in their souls."
An instant after he finished, the dementor came back with his card in its hands and dropped it once again before Harry. Harry took a deep breath, calming himself, and then flicked the card once again but this time he made sure that it went so far that it would take the dementor at least a few minutes to return with it.
"So, you mean..." Daphne began but paused as she noticed that Harry had an air of depression hanging around him.
Harry staggered forward and leaned by the tree, with a gloomy rain cloud hanging over his head. "My cards are like… overpowered weapons that countries ban each other from producing. They are NOT dementor's version of potato chips!"
Daphne patted him on the head. "I'm sure it will be fine. Someday."
Somehow, it made Harry feel even worse.
Their return trip from the forest was fairly uneventful. That should've relieved Harry but he was on his toes right now, twitching at every noise. The reason?
The dementor was trailing behind them like a clingy pet.
Harry sighed for what must be the millionth time in the past ten minutes. If only they could somehow disappear from its sight…
Like a strike of thunder, a brilliant idea hit his mind and with a flourish, he brandished the invisibility cloak he had in his pocket. He hadn't used it till now because he presumed that this whole adventure would be a waste if the dementors couldn't see or sense him. But now, he had no such restrictions.
He held Daphne's wrist before pulling her onto him and veiled their touching bodies with the cloak.
"What are you doing?" Daphne asked calmly.
Not for the first time, Harry thanked the heavens that it was not some other girl he was taking this trip with. If it had been, Harry would've been rolling on the floor by now, holding something very precious to him.
"This is my invisibility cloak," Harry answered with a mile-wide grin. "Apparently, this cloak provides perfect invisibility. What better way to test that theory than with a dementor?"
They stumbled back and Harry watched with growing excitement as the dementor floundered around in search for them. Sometimes, he just loved the powerful items he had at hand.
A pack of cards, a silver wand, and an invisibility cloak. The must-have tools for every insane and reckless adventurer.
Harry let out a sigh of relief when he could once again hear the sounds of the students shouting as they witnessed the quidditch match. "Ah, we're finally here!"
"Do you think we should join the other students?" Daphne whispered because they were so close that their shoulders were constantly rubbing against each other.
"Hmm. We'll see," Harry nodded but then another question popped in his mind. "So, why did you want to see a dementor?"
"Why did you?" Daphne shot back, though she sounded resigned to the fact that she would have to answer the question.
"Because you asked," Harry answered simply. "Well, that's the main reason. But I can hear my mother when I am near them...so it's an added bonus?"
Daphne fell silent at his answer. "Thank you."
Harry removed the invisibility cloak and was about to reply when his gaze fell on two figures standing at a distance. Headmaster Dumbledore and Professor Snape were discussing something serious and to Harry's horror, Snape was facing them.
In his haste, he paid no attention to the words Daphne said in a whisper. "I hear my mother too."
"Quick!" Harry yelled as he donned his invisibility cloak but before Daphne could get under it, Snape sighted her.
"Miss Greengrass!" Snape snapped as he stalked forward. "Are you coming from the forbidden forest?"
"No, Professor," Daphne answered in her usual monotone.
Snape seemed visibly surprised at the simple answer but recovered quickly. "Don't lie, Miss Greengrass. I saw you by the forest."
"Then it's just a speculation, Professor Snape," Daphne remarked with a blink. "Me standing by the forest doesn't necessarily imply that I am venturing into it or exiting it."
Harry bit his lip from stop himself from laughing at Snape's sour expression. Meanwhile, Dumbledore had his eyes fixed on the place Harry was standing at. 'Can the Headmaster notice me even through the invisibility cloak?'
"Then what business do you have at this place?" Snape demanded.
"I am enjoying this pleasant afternoon by roaming around on the school grounds."
A giant acromantula scuttled out of the bushes and then shot what looked like a withering glare at the three humans present before rushing into the forest.
The three people and Harry stared at it with varying amounts of amusement or disbelief until it disappeared out of sight. "A pleasant afternoon, indeed," Dumbledore agreed.
"Now I am certain that Potter has a hand in this," Snape grit his teeth. "Was Mr. Potter with you, Miss Greengrass?"
"That depends on the time frame you are talking about, Professor," Daphne said and Snape appeared triumphant for an instant. "He certainly was with me a few hours ago."
Snape had a vein bulging on his forehead that was threatening to burst and only the fact that Daphne was from Slytherin was stopping him from deducting a thousand points.
Harry had his fist buried in his mouth while his face was steadily turning redder as he restrained his laughter. Then out of nowhere, he felt a tug on his cloak and a moment later, he was quite visible to the three people standing before him.
The two professors stared blankly as Harry removed the fist out of his mouth and rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment.
"Headmaster, Professor Snape!" Harry greeted before turning to Daphne. "Miss Greengrass! Fancy meeting you here."
"It certainly is," Daphne agreed. "Are you coming from the Quidditch match, Potter?"
"Oh, for the love of..." Snape narrowed his eyes at the clearly fake conversation.
"You can say that," Harry took a step back and then another, before disappearing into dark, empty space beneath the stands. "See you later!"
"That's a convenient coincidence," Snape drawled with a piercing stare.
"We have no valid proof to say that they are acting out of bounds, Severus," Dumbledore intervened before shifting his blue-eyed gaze to Daphne. "But since you were found near a forbidden area, I must take action. You and Mr. Potter – wherever he is – cannot witness this quidditch match."
Daphne bowed her head in acceptance. "I will keep that in mind, sir."
"Your blatant favoritism is not helping in this situation, Headmaster," Snape spat after Daphne walked away.
"Favoritism?" Dumbledore seemed taken aback at the very thought. "I forbid two students from witnessing the end of a quidditch match, Severus. That's the cruelest thing I've done all week!"
Snape could only roll his eyes in response.
"What are you guys doing?" Harry shouted in a whisper as he stared at the two redheaded twins before him. "Don't you two have, I mean like, a QUIDDITCH MATCH to play?"
"Oliver asked for a time out," One of the twins answered. Normally, it's impossible to tell the twins from each other. In this darkness, Harry gave up the struggle before it even began.
"And you decided to visit me of all people and yank out my cloak?" Harry deadpanned.
"You've pranked us and we always return the favor, don't we Georgie?"
"That we do, Freddie."
"Huh? What prank?" Harry tilted his head in confusion.
"He..." one of the twins began.
"forgot?" the other twin finished.
"The one in the hospital wing."
"Brilliant, if I may add."
"Not as brilliant as us, of course."
Harry shook his head to get rid of the double-effect. "That was unintentional."
"Ah, the perfect excuse."
"We've been saying the same since we were five."
"No one ever believes us, though."
"That's because you can never hide your stupid grin when you tell that, George."
"Hey! That's what George does! I am Fred."
"Oh. Then it's me?"
"Oh my god! Can you guys quit that for like a second?" Harry held his head in his hands. "And anyway, can I get my cloak back?"
"We have a match to play."
"How did you guys find me?" Harry furrowed his brows as he donned his cloak again.
"Is it Oliver I hear?"
"Hell, he's calling for us!"
"We both have brooms."
"Then hold the broom in your hand!"
Harry let out an evil laugh once they left but that didn't exactly come out right. Not that it mattered.
'No one outplays Harry Potter,' he thought as he held the folded parchment that he stole from the twin on the left at the last second.
He opened the parchment to notice...a blank parchment?
All color left his face as two tick marks appeared on his brow. "Dammit! Dammit! Stupid! I stole a freaking blank parchment! What next? Quills and ink?"
The shrieking shack currently housed two morose people and an owl.
"I mean it's like the whole world is trying to take away my freedom," Harry ranted as he paced along the dilapidated room. "And the sad thing is that it's working!"
"You are discussing this with me? The guy who just escaped from Azkaban after staying there for ten years? The guy who can't even get out of this wooden dump if he doesn't want his soul being sucked out or being sent back to said prison by Aurors?" Sirius deadpanned as he poked at the wooden plank that rose out of the floor.
Harry paused as he pondered about it. "Hmm. So you're like the bar that I should set myself against?"
"How on earth did you reach that conclusion?" Sirius palmed his face in frustration.
"But you see, now I can't even get out of the castle without a dementor following me around," Harry continued without dignifying Sirius's question with an answer. "It's a good thing that dementors can't get into the castle or it would be accompanying me to class."
Hedwig hooted indignantly at that statement.
"Oh, no... Hed. That thing is not your replacement," Harry waved his hands frantically. "Both of you can fly and that's where the similarities end. It acts more like a dog than an owl, you know?"
Sirius's dog senses felt vaguely insulted but he brushed those away with extreme prejudice. This was not the place or time to be insulted by a dementor of all things. The owl was doing enough for both of them, to be honest.
"How did that thing even find you?" Sirius asked with a frown. He experienced the scare of a lifetime when he suddenly felt the presence of a dementor outside the shack and only when Harry appeared did his heart rate fall down to acceptable levels.
"For once I come out without my invisibility cloak and this happens!" Harry gestured around as though declaring that everything was wrong with the world.
"You forgot, didn't you?"
Silence permeated the shack for a few seconds, broken only by Hedwig's occasional delighted hoot as she found another insect to eat.
"So, does this mean that you stole a dementor from the ministry?" Sirius smirked.
"We can consider it that way," Harry mirrored Sirius's smirk but then it vanished as the events of the day caught up with him. "But it's like I am stealing totally useless things these days."
"What do you mean?"
"This afternoon I stole a parchment from the Weasely twins," Harry threw the said parchment in Sirius's direction. "Can you believe it? A parchment. That's like stealing food from the Kitchen elves... they stuff you with it anyway!"
"Wait for a second," Sirius murmured as he opened the parchment. His eyes shone with glee as he watched it unfold and his signature troublemaker grin made its way onto his face.
"I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
"You never are," Harry shot back, facing the other way.
"Shut up and watch a miracle happen!" Sirius yelled in excitement.
"If it's you rubbing it in my face..." Harry began but his mouth snapped shut as ink crawled over the paper to form a miniature image of the castle, with various streams of ink leading away from it.
"It's the Marauder's map!" Harry gasped in shock.
Harry knelt beside Sirius while Hedwig flew over to them and situated itself between the both of them. Tiny footsteps marked on the paper, with names written in miniature above them, moved around the castle. The map showed a set of passages that Harry never even knew existed, just along the familiar corridors he had always taken.
"This is..." Harry felt himself at a loss for words.
"A masterpiece, right?" Sirius was beside himself, with his face glowing brightly with happiness. He appeared to have gotten younger by a few years as he beamed with pride.
Harry simply nodded.
Hedwig, who remained silent until then, cuffed Harry on the head and pointed at the Ravenclaw tower. "You want to see my room, Hed?"
The map shifted and zoomed in to show the rooms in the Ravenclaw tower, with each room represented by a rectangular block and each person by a tiny dot. "See...Terry's in the room. And..."
"Peter Pettigrew?"/ "Peter Pettigrew!" The twin shouts of Harry and Sirius echoed in the hollow shack.
"Oh, my fucking..." Sirius gaped in utter disbelief.
"I have another man living under my bed...Eww!"
"But it's Peter!" Sirius shouted.
"You know, that doesn't make me feel any better."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Yes, I understand. I lived with him for seven years, in case you don't know."
"Such a sad existence."
"Not the point, right now," Sirius shook his head. "But you know what I smell just around the corner?"
Harry's eyes widened comically before he threw back his head and let out a wondrous laugh. "Freedom!"
Author's Note: I'm Back.
I know some of you are entertaining murderous thoughts because of me not updating for what has been two whole months. I can understand.
So, how is the chapter? I am sure all of you can/ will guess what would happen after this. Don't.
But please do review your suggestions as it's been so long that I have lost the flow of the story and can use some help. It's the same case with my four other stories. If you feel that something more could have made the chapter better, feel free to tell me and I will do my best to improve the quality.
Next update? As fast as humanly possible.