The gray rain had stopped for a time on Privet Drive, yet the presence of another downpour lurked on the horizon as the great gray clouds swiftly flew over the landside. Although it was summer holiday, there was a slight chill in the air, as though spring had not quite finished. The meteorologist had been rather stumped by the sudden change in weather, but it was no matter, for as liked to say, 'No one could control the weather.'
Harry, who had just risen from his desk chair, peered out through his decrepit curtains which consisted of used and soiled dish towels. These eyesores he had discovered on his return and his uncle had explained angrily that their purpose was so 'the neighbors would not see anything unusual'. Beyond the dirty glass were the rusted over bars that a few summers ago Ron and the now long-gone car had managed to pull off. These too, upon his return, had greeted him. Sometimes Harry thought they were grinning at him as he diligently studied his summer homework. Those bars seemed to remind Harry day after day that the place he had grown up and lived in was more like a prison than a home.
Blinking through the misty weather, he shook his head and turned to find Hedwig staring at him, her large marble eyes blinking once as she continued to study his behavior.
"Lovely weather, don't you agree?"
Whether or not she agreed was never discovered, for turning suddenly he found that the large and booming voice of Uncle Vernon crashed through his thin walls, "Who you talking to there, boy?"
"No one." Harry grumbled irritably, glad his door was shut and blockaded by his rickety chest of drawers.
"Get downstairs," the voice continued menacingly, "And set the table."
Shaking his head sadly, Harry glanced at the new birthday cards he had received that day. To him they glimmered like rubies among the trash.
"Coming," he sighed rubbing his hands through his unkempt hair.
The door to Harry's room closed quietly as he exited it, and Hedwig closed her eyes, hoping to get a fifteen-minute nap. The chamber was quiet in the fading light of day, and a cloud swept before of the sun, casting the room into darkness and shadow. The window coverings fluttered and then remained still. Downstairs the bickering of the boys was heard, the chink of plates, the raised voice of Mr. Dursely…
…And yet, above their heads, Hedwig was not alone in the small spare room. A figure dressed in black appeared, from what seemed the general direction of the window, his head covered from all view. Only his long black hair that escapes the hood gleamed in the weak light. The figure moved quickly across the space, almost as though he was hovering just above the surface of the worn floorboards. The form paused and moved its head to look down at an old chest of drawers that had a few moments earlier of been placed in front of the door. From within the recesses of its cloak, the figure removed his pale and delicate hands, one of which gripped a dark wand. Pulling back the hood, the figure knelt over the drawers and slowly opened it, careful to muffle any sound possible.
It seemed to be searching for something for a time, and then, it paused and withdrew from the third drawer, a scarlet bundle. It was Harry's Quidditch cloak. Bringing it to his nose, the man smelt the fabric, and a sly grin spread across his features. Whispering something in a low and deep voice a shot of pale blue flew out his wand. The cloak glowed for a moment of bright gold and then faded away to its original color. Folding it neatly and placing it in its proper place in-between his dress cloak and black cloaks, he then closed the drawers and quietly exited the room. The window curtains fluttered, and then all was silent…That Which We Cannot See
"This year has been a particularly exciting between these two rival houses!" the voice of Lee Jordan roared over the speaker at the Quidditch field. The crowd cheered the names of their favorite team, and the voice continued, "This year's final will be between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Both have played excellently this year against the other two houses and have both earned the right to compete for the cup!"
Professor McGonagall nodded in approval, pleased that she did not have to reprimand Jordan for his usually pro-Gryffindor words.
"Although, it is clear that Gryffindor deserves the cup." Jordan added quickly, and received a furious look from the professor sitting behind him.
"Really," she began heatedly, "I thought you would have grown out of it!"
"One never grows out of rooting for your own team." He explained, flashing a grin in her direction.
From down in the bleachers Hermione glanced at Ron who was hanging over the railing shouting obscene remarks to the rival house across the field. Shaking her head, she smiled sadly, and remarked, "Really Ron, you are too much."
The redhead looked at her, and smirked, "Me? Too much?"
Hermione, sitting back down onto the bleachers, placed her head in her hands, and thought quietly about the past year. Where had it gone so quickly, she quietly wondered. What had happened? For the past years she had become so accustomed to breaking the rules, finding enemies in their midst…and yet, this year, for perhaps the first time it was life at Hogwarts the way it was meant to be. Although the grounds had been heavily guarded there had not been one word of Voldemort, not one out lash at the muggles…no attempt to kill Harry…
And this in itself did not seem right. It was not; she argued with herself, that she wanted Harry to die. He was her best friend, along with Ron (who at the moment was turning out to be something more…) , but from the moment, she had been accepted to the school she knew that Harry's life would not be an easy one. With fame came great responsibility, and a responsibility that Harry had earned throughout the years…and that he continued to earn…
Yet, this year had been hell, Hermione thought darkly to herself. The classes had been grueling enough, yes, but then there was this constant pressure in the air, the waiting and the fear. Everyone was waiting for something that had not happened. Everyone had been called to arms for a threat that had not yet made itself known. It was Voldemort and his power that the people feared, but it was an attack that people had expected. Now…now there was only the wait that would drive people mad.
What if it took years, she wondered. What if Harry had to live everyday with this fear and strain on his heart? What if…?
Blinking in surprise she found that Ron was leaning over her, looking at her with a worried _expression on his face.
"Are you alright, Hermione?" He questioned, feeling her brow for a fever.
Flushing in embarrassment, she explained hurriedly, "I-I'm fine Ron, I was just thinking."
Laughing, Ron joked, "Now what have I told you about that Hermione?"
"I know, I know." She admitted, standing up with him, and shrugging her shoulders, "It's just…"
"Believe me…we are all waiting." He whispered seriously, leaning over her. Her eyes wise (wide) in amazement she kicked herself mentally for believing Ron to be so dense. The whole experience it seemed had caused everyone to grow up too fast. "Don't trouble yourself by thinking about 'what ifs'. We know it will come, it's just a matter of time."
"A matter of time…" She repeated, feeling suddenly very cold.
Closing her eyes, she listened to the roar of the crowd as the two teams took off into the air to begin the game.
Glancing at his watch, Harry interrupted from within the office of Dumbledore, "Excuse me…headmaster."
Dumbledore, who had suddenly received an important letter via owl, glanced over his spectacles and questioned pleasantly, "Yes?"
"The time, sir." He tried modestly. The game would start in a few moments at the very most…all he needed was hassle from the team about his tardiness.
"The time?" Dumbledore questioned, confused for a moment. Then, the realization dawning upon him, he exclaimed, "Good lord, the time!"
Harry, smiling sadly, rose and shook the headmasters hand as he did each week with these meetings. The ancient man rose in turn, smiled wisely at Harry, and wished him the best of luck at the game. He explained that he would be at the field shortly, or at least as soon as he replied to the letter.
"Of course." Harry replied hurriedly.
"That means of course," the professor added as Harry quickly left the room, "That you may only catch the snitch when I am there to see it."
Nodding, Harry quickly exited the room and a moment later, his footsteps echoed down the long and deserted hall.
Adjusting his leather satchel (which at the moment contained his freshly cleaned Quidditch garb), Harry thought about what he and the headmaster had spoken of in the last hour. Ever since he had returned to Hogwarts in his fifth year, Dumbledore had insisted that they have weekly chats about the 'state of things' (as he liked to put it) dealing with Voldemort. For the past year, as far as the dark lord went, things had been quiet. Too quiet, Harry thought worriedly as he withdrew a piece of his arm guard. Harry was as stumped as Dumbledore about Voldemorts cause for silence in the past year and a half. He had risen to power again, regained his old followers (and was no doubt converting more each day) so then, why did he not attack Harry, or Hogworts, or Dumbledore, or anything?! His _expression grew even more hopeless as he turned into the great hall and broke out into a sprint.
As he watched the door to the outside grow nearer and nearer, he was so lost in his thoughts that he hardly heard the pair of footsteps following behind him. Glancing in surprise at the figure next to him (who was spiriting at his same speed) he grumbled, although very heavily out of breath, "Late, Malfoy?"
"Shut up, Potter. What will your team say when Mr. Perfect arrives tardy?"
"Up in the Astronomy Tower getting a quick shag?" Harry grinned as he flung open the door and raced down the gravel path.
"Oh, interested in my sex-life, eh Potter?" Draco chuckled absently as he caught sight of one of his team mates standing outside his locker-room door.
"In your dreams." Harry sneered angrily as he ran in the direction of the locker rooms and stumbled hurriedly into gear. Thankful that he had managed to make it on time, he pushed the brief conversation he had partaken in with Malfoy to the back of his mind, and stumbled to where his team mates were (gathered around the water fountain). Glad that Harry had not missed the game entirely, most forgave him at once.
Fred nudged Harry in the ribs before the game started, and whispered in his ear, "And where were you? The astronomy tower?"
"Please," gulped Harry, thinking of the earlier conversation, "Don't say that."
Fred and George laughed, and slapped him amiably on the back. Harry, gazing down at his feet, flushed in embarrassment. Running his hand through his hair, he cast a shadowy and bitter look in their direction that shut the twins up immediately.
Right now, there was nothing Harry wished for more than to be asleep in his four-poster bed. Even Quidditch did not seem tempting enough. He wanted to scream, and yell, and hit someone. He wanted to kill Voldemort so his life could continue; he wanted to escape to a place that where nobody would know who he was. For a moment in time, he almost wished that he were still on Privet drive. His features formed into ones of repugnance, and he reasoned that he could and would never be that desperate. Compared to the hell there, what was a bit of waiting? Tapping his foot anxiously, he listened to the cheer from the bleachers above him. The doors opened, and Harry kicked up off his broom and sped off into the sunlight on his gleaming firebolt.
Settling himself down onto the bench, Dumbledore leaned over and asked Snape, "What did I miss?"
Snape, adjusting his frame, replied moodily, "Potter almost got the snitch."
"Well, I suppose that's good." Dumbledore nodded, forming a smile.
"But then Malfoy nearly knocked him off his broom." Snape added, forming an appreciative grin.
"Oh, I see." Dumbledore blinked, turning his attention to the field and adjusting his spectacles magically so they acted as binoculars.
McGonagall, on the other side of Dumbledore, touched his robed arm and whispered, "May I ask why you were late?"
Dumbledore replied whimsically, "Of course you may, dear Minerva."
Snape, leaning to listen to the conversation waited, as did Minerva, for the headmaster to speak.
"I received a letter, that's all." He answered amiably, adjusting his glasses so that he was not just looking into one large extremely big eye of the professor, "And I had to reply."
"What was the news of?" Snape questioned seriously, his insipid face seemingly gone paler in the sunlight.
"Ah…" Dumbledore fumbled, "Well…I would not concern you…but there have been rumors…"
Minerva, adjusting her hat that had been tilted by the wind, inquired, "Of…he who must not be named?"
Dumbledore nodded, and added, smiling, "Bien sur."
The crowd went wild as Gryffindor scored ten points. The score was now sixty -to- fifty, in the lions honor. His lips turned up in a pleased smile and adjusting his cloak about him, Dumbledore once again adjusted his glasses to 'binocular vision'.
From high above, the crowd the wind wiped about Harry's pale face. Although from the ground his presence looked calm and composed, his mind was alert and flighty like that of his haphazard movements about the field. His emerald eyes glinted behind the wall of his glasses, and he adjusted his broom to see as much was possible from his vantage point.
If he could just catch the snitch now…then all of this could be over, he would win the cup…
Yet, Harry realized, sighing deeply as he swept across the field on his firebolt, such things were easier said than done. Keeping a careful eye on Malfoy who was circling a few meters lower than him, Harry was reminded of the day in his second year. His first game against the new seeker—and the snitch had decided to show itself right by Malfoy's head. A grin tugged at his lips, and chuckling softly to himself, he studied Malfoy's face from his vantage point. The usual frown was eminent, and his gray eyes swept the landscape in the same manner Harry had done not a few moments before. A few strands of his hair had come undone and now fluttered over his face and dark lashed eyes. Never had Harry seen Malfoy look so upset and so concentrated on his target before. In past games, Malfoy had taken time to cheer if his team scored a point, and at the very minimum, he had managed to deliver a few snide comments in passing.
Taking his opportunities, he searched the crowd and found that Hermione was talking to Ron in a worried sort of way. Obviously, Harry thought knowingly, they were talking about him. Although he feigned ignorance and innocence, most of the time he was aware of nearly all that went on at the school. After all, he had to know and be aware—for not a day went by that Harry did not ponder if it would be his last.
Closing his eyes, he listened to the cheer of the crowd as Gryffindor scored another ten points. The sun shone down, making his back hot; and so, directing the broom he leisurely flew around the court, his bright eyes alert for a flash of gold.
Unconsciously, his eyes were drawn back to the solitary and serious Draco Malfoy who had not moved in the past four minutes. Harry could not resist an opportunity such as this. Hovering a few meters away from him, Harry called, "What do you think of the game so far, eh, Malfoy?"
The blonde haired man turned towards him, his _expression angry but also uncaring. As though the words did not touch or anger him in the least.
From a seat on the bleachers, directly behind Professor McGonagall, a young good-looking man sat blinking up into the air, his pale blue eyes focused on the two men who were now hovering some hundred feet above him. A slight quizzical smile arrived at his lips, and fingering his mahogany wand in his hand, he felt its mass and waited for the correct time.
This person realized that it must be a time when all (or at least most) were distracted from the golden boy. When Dumbledore's all-seeing eyes and all-saving wand would not able, or at least prepared, to come to the rescue. He knew he would have to make the jolt of power quick, sharp, and with enough impact to cause Mr. Potter to dive head first into the newly planted bushes that had been planted at strategic places about the campus. It was a stroke of luck, the person realized, that Mr. Potter was now hovering unconsciously over the thorny flora. Obviously, their sensitivity rivaled that of the womping willow, and it was known that the pain factor outdid the willow and its whip-like branches ten fold. These newly planted bushes were lethal, and unlike the willow, there was no 'turn off' button. Only fire, or perhaps flood, could stop the thorny branches. Dumbledore had unconsciously created the means for his success in adding new 'safety features' to the campus. It was marvelous.
The person also realized that he could not miss this opportunity so he had to hope something would present itself. Tapping his wand idly in his hand, he waited…
A few seconds later, Dumbledore suddenly had an urge for a lemon drop. Reaching within his cloak, he grasped the decorated tin case and brought them out into the sun. Suddenly, the crowd went wild as Slytherin scored ten points, and Snape, showing rare enthusiasm clapped happily, unconsciously causing Dumbledore to drop the tin case onto the footrest. Mumbling an 'excuse me' to Minerva, he bent down and searched the shadows for the tin.
The cold blue eyes flashed, and a cold sweat began on his brow. This was the time. It was the opportunity. Glimpsing hurriedly at Snape, who was still cheering, and then McGonagall who was trying to help Dumbledore find the lemon drop container, the man opened his mouth and ever so silently whispered the powerful spell. A surge of invisible energy emitted from his wand, carefully disguised so as not to distract attention. His cold blue eyes shifted to Harry Potter, innocently flying high above the crowds' head.
Harry blinked down as he watched a player from Syltherin score ten points and the crowd erupt with shouts and screams of either hatred or joy. Frowning ever so slightly, he turned his attention towards Malfoy, waiting for his rival to gloat. Harry was not disappointed.
"I like the game very well, Potter."
Turning his broom ever so slightly, Harry flushed hastily and glanced about for the snitch, hoping that somehow, magically if need be, it would suddenly appear. The roar from the crowd continued, but abruptly Harry's muscles grew tight and contracted. Draco, who was about to add another comment to the dwindling conversation turned his head and watched as Harry was blasted off his broom, as though from a spell. He watched as his glasses fell through the air, glinting in the light; the look of pain and anguish which appeared on his pale face. The crowd had (not) yet to notice. The scarlet robes wiped about his form and he plummeted head first through the air.
Draco paused, and licked his lips slightly. For a moment, Draco thought madly, he believed that he would just let him plunge. It was probably some trick, some damn trick that the boy was always up to. His eyes narrowed as he watched Harry plummet through the air, but suddenly, without realizing why, he gripped his broom tightly and sped after the freefalling body. Draco realized desperately that although Potter's eyes were open, they were unseeing. The boy was unconscious.
Nevertheless, it was no use. He had waited too long. Pulling up sharply he heard the terrible sound of Harry's body falling into hybrid 'whip tongue' thorn bushes. Wincing at the sound, he jumped off his broom and cast a spell that caused a spit of fire to appear from his wand. The thorns receded ever so slightly, but a few second later they were already growing and thrashing about the unconscious form. Draco, falling to the ground pulled Harry's feet (the only thing he could grab if he did not want to be in as much pain as Harry was) from the already flailing and attacking thorns.
"My god…" he whispered, repressing an urge to throw up.
The crowd now screamed and gasped, and Draco knew that within a matter of minutes the nurse, the teachers, the teammates would be here...all too look at Harry. Summoning a spell for water, Draco tried to wash off the blood as best he could, but it was no use, it had been Harry's curse that he had faced the thorns with his eyes open, the eyes that might now never see again. Streams of crimson blood poured from them, meeting a similar color of his robes. It was revolting the injuries, the thousands of little marks pouring small streams of blood, his torn and nearly shredded cloak, but most terrifying was the innocent look that Harry had, even though such a fate had befallen him. Looking away, Draco glanced up at his teammates who were speeding towards him, grins spread on their faces. Yet, Draco thought terribly, even he would have not wished such a fate to his enemy. Quickly, he whipped the moisture that had formed at his eyes, and backed away a few feet from the body.
few moments later, Dumbledore, Snape and McGonagall
rushed across the field, followed closely by Madame Pomprey.
Stumbling backwards, Draco gazed down at his blood
stained hands, his eyes wide and uncertain. This was not going to be the last
time that such color would stain his skin; his fate had already been decided.
His gray eyes cast one last look at the crumpled and bleeding figure before
slowly walking away from the scene. The screams continued, and Draco slowly drowned in them.