Well hola everyone! Or should I say Welcome Back?
What a year and many thanks need to be given to the true people of this story! Even through a year, I've still gotten reviews, e-mails, (to those who did e-mail me and didn't get an e-mail in return, my apologies deeply!) and constant begs to continue this story!
Of course I hadn't quit writing, my main problem was when to and how much time? Also, as every writer experiences, writers block. Oh what a pain that is! shivers Well, I think everyone gets the picture.
In the near future, if an update is not as quick, (I promise it will definitely not be a year again!) don't ever assume I have quit writing! Never! One of my pet peeves of writers is when they just suddenly quit for reasons of their own. What the heck? Oh well. One of the truly amazing things I've noticed while this year went by was that in the reviews everyone seems to like the story! Which surprised me by far because even the new readers enjoyed it! Why does this surprise me? Well as my good friend Taylor put it: "I copy and pasted the first chapter into my Microsoft Word and they were so many grammar mistakes it couldn't hold them all." As you may or may not know, I started this story when I was 14! Grammar was a bit on the retard-o side back then. But, as my wonderful and amazing boyfriend said: "It's not the grammar that matters when you see how much heart is put into the story by the author." That definitely gave me a huge boost to finish this story and calmed me down. So, if you see a grammar mistake, oh well! We're all human, right? We all make grammar mistakes! Sometime (before I'm 20 I hope!) I'm going to go back and completely edit the previous chapters. Any help is welcome, but if not, never fear, it will be done. Thanks to my beta, Matt! Thank you! Okay I'm done ranting and raving now.
Thank you all so much!
Hayley awoke against the sound of pounding shoes and echoing voices vibrating off the walls as she felt the slumber slowly slip away from her. She felt too content to abandon the warm atmosphere surrounding her body. She gently opened her eyes, allowing the small light to fall into them as she moaned into her pillow – her eyes snapped open, bewildered. The dusty smell of dirt came to her nostrils, instinct telling her she wasn't in the aroma smell of her dormitory. The grumbling sound of a stomach beneath her ear quickly snapped her back to reality that she most definitely wasn't laying on her pillow.
Hayley shot up, but before she could fully stand, the top of her head collided with something hard; several, sharp moans, and cursing came after that. With her head feeling as if it would split into two, Hayley turned to see the source, trying to focus her gaze while dancing white lights gleamed before her sight.
"Harry!" she gasped.
Harry was bent doubled over in front of her, cradling his chin in his hand and biting his tongue to keep from spurting more curses. "That's now twice you've crashed into me in less than one day!" he mumbled, removing his hand from his face, brandishing the nice red sport forming in place.
Hayley felt heat rush to her cheeks, not only from smashing into Harry, but also from the memories of last night playing out before her through visions on fast forward. The library – the newspaper – meeting Harry in the corridor – she looked back up to his face.
"Er…" mumbled Hayley, watching as Harry glanced at her, equally bemused expressions lingering upon one another's faces.
Harry broke the silence by quickly looking towards the clock on his wrist. He looked back up at Hayley with a tentative look. "Maybe – maybe we could meet somewhere later?" he offered in an awkward manner.
Hayley wasn't sure the anxiety, the pain and the emotion building in herself could wait until later. Later could be ages, she wanted answers now.
"When?" she questioned, her voice impatient.
"In the common room."
They looked to one another, identical green eyes no longer afraid to stare into their twin. Hayley closed the space separating between them and embraced him into her arms. Questions upon questions flooding through her conscious, almost tempted to burst out and voice her thoughts.
"Harry – may I ask you one thing?"
Harry gently nodded with caution, wanting to avoid the questions he knew were about to come, till later.
"In the dreams – is t-the man and woman my -- I mean – our –"
"Yeah," Harry said, stopping her. He couldn't stand to see her struggle with such a question as that. He had to realize it would take weeks maybe months for Hayley to grow used to this newfound discovery. Harry didn't want to leave her, but he knew Ron and Hermione were probably on end with apprehension with both of their disappearances throughout the entire night. Harry's mind suddenly went blank – Hermione!
"We have to go!" he stammered quickly.
Hayley nodded, her mind caressing the memory of the two people in the picture plastered over the newspaper, both of them smiling happily at the camera, holding their children tightly to their chests – she could feel a poignant look forming on her face.
"Hayley?" questioned Harry, watching her carefully.
"Yes?" she answered, turning back to him.
"We need to get back to the common rooms before Ron and Hermione start looking for us," he said. Hayley nodded once again.
"I'll go get my bag from the library and head into the showers, okay?" He felt as if he were telling this to a small child. He didn't feel leaving her this way -- suffering in her own emotions -- would be the wisest decision. He wanted to sit down, comfort her, tell her everything, but he knew that could be a huge danger if someone discovered both his and her disappearance.
"I think…I'll head to the showers also," she said back to him.
Harry pulled her into his arms once more, stepping apart; he bent and grabbed his wand from the ground. He opened the closet door, dimming his eyesight as he peered to check for any students crossing through the corridor -- the new light invading his vision as the breezy smell of the corridor reached his nostrils instead of the musty inhabitant dirt. He turned back to face Hayley, allowing the light to run over her face as she stepped closer to him outside in the corridor also.
This time, Harry didn't need to close his eyes as he looked at her, the connection already beating through their blood stronger than before…'I'll see you in class, okay?'
'Right,' she repeated, though the gloomy look placed over her face didn't give Harry hope.
He turned down the corridor leading back towards the library. Watching as he fell away from her eyesight, a mental rebellious thought came to Hayley's mind.
She turned down the opposite corridor, but instead of following the path that lead back to the common room, she turned into another corridor leading elsewhere…
Harry left the showers in a furry with his bag clutched tightly at his side as he hurriedly walked down the corridors. His mind wandering back to the library – he had expected to find the door to be locked, but discovered it to be just as it was after he had left it -- unlocked. His bag lying atop of the table, along with three other items scattered along its place, including his Daily Prophet. The unanswered question of how Hayley had come to uncover the truth still floating aimlessly through his mind as he marched on.
Harry pushed the theory away as he approached the Fat Lady's portrait, quickly wheezing the password to her and hurrying inside. Though no sooner had he stepped inside, he felt two pairs of hands grip his shoulders in a fast motion and pull him into a corner. On instinct, he found his hand reaching for his wand, but as his hand seized the wooden stick, the sources turned him around roughly and there, he found himself face to face with two glaring faces.
"Where in hell have you been?" Ron whispered infuriated, his face turning a bright shade of crimson.
Harry felt his mind go blank. He hadn't thought about this, what was he going to tell Ron and Hermione? Surely he wasn't ready to lie to them, not about this. He turned to face Hermione and felt his stomach twist at her look of display – a toss between anxiety beyond relief and livid. Harry glanced around their surroundings, spotting many of their Gryffindor classmates near the extinguished fire, though quite out of ear shot, Harry didn't want to take a chance of explaining the events of last night here.
"Well!" Hermione spoke up loudly. He could clearly see the dark circles covering both their eyes. He found himself yet again, feeling guilty for leaving them in wait and wonder.
"I – look I can't say it here –"
"My bum you can't!" said Ron heatedly.
"Where have you been?" repeated Hermione in the same heated tone. "We waited for you in the kitchens and still you didn't show up, then half the night and neither you nor Hayley came back!"
"Where is Hayley anyway?" asked Ron, his temper fuming long enough to voice this, quickly scanning the common room for her.
"She's in the showers," said Harry.
"No she isn't," snapped Hermione. "I just came back from the showers no more than twenty mintues ago."
"I – what --?"
But before he could finish his sentence he was cut off by the sharp sound of the bell echoing through the corridors and signaling students along its wake.
Harry hadn't realized how long he must have spent in the shower. He glanced at his watch once more and with a silent moan, he saw it was time to start heading to the first class of the day; Potions. When he looked back up to face Ron and Hermione, the looks portraying their faces sent his stomach into another icy cold sensation. It wasn't the same infuriated and angered look he had been greeted with at the door, but a sorrow, sad look, as if they knew the true secret to his and Hayley's disappearance. They turned away from him and began walking towards the portrait. Harry had the guilty knowledge that those looks would be following him through the day, sneaking him glances in classes, and eyeing him when they assumed he wouldn't notice.
As he walked through the corridor, he found himself glancing around the rushing students, a certain raven head nowhere to be placed in between them. Harry hoped that after her shower, Hayley would have initiated it best to proceed to potions other than the common room, assuming she didn't want to be placed in the same uncomfortable position amongst Ron and Hermione like he had been.
But he was wrong – Hayley wasn't waiting for them in the dark and dingy room. In fact, Harry couldn't find her anywhere around the jostling crowd forming at the desks, the last few students pouring into the room. Looking to Ron and Hermione, he could see their looks resembling the same perturbed question, though Harry could see that Ron was still too furious to voice this to him, it was Hermione that met his eyes -- she shrugged -- knowing no more than he did. The door slamming behind him, Harry quickly took his seat next to Hermione.
Snape stepped to the front of the class, but Harry hardly took notice as he glanced around quickly for one last hope of seeing Hayley. He abandoned looking for her and as the rest of the class, turned his attention to Snape, an uneasy feeling resting in the pit of his stomach.
"Before we began," Snape began in a snarl, "I shall remind you all that at this stage of process with your potions, almost all of you should be at the next level of choosing your desirable partners for the switch. That is if all of you have completed this far into the stage with your potion." His dark orbs looked towards Neville, and while walking to the other side of the room, he went on. "You are at a crucial stage with these potions. Any mistake whatsoever could result to the damage of having to starting over, therefore residing to another months work of wait, or," glancing quickly to Harry, "taking a failing grade which will devastate your grade immensely the following year of your N.E.W.T.s. With that to mind, now two weeks into the process you should all already know the instructions," – he flicked his wand to the board, white letters appearing in an instance – "and your ingredients and materials," – he flicked his wand to the usual cupboard residing in the back – "are in the back. You have the rest of the period to work. Use it wisely or beware of the consequences…Begin."
"He's laying it on rather thick, isn't he?" said Ron sarcastically under his breath as they began setting up their cauldron while Hermione retrieved their potion.
Harry smiled to himself, unsure of whether Ron's anger had fully resided since this morning and preferring not to worsen it to a further point. Harry hardly spoke as he finished setting up the last materials, waiting for Hermione to return from the cupboard with the new ingredients.
Throughout the rest of the period, Harry mentally tried to think of someway to apologize. If he couldn't tell them the truth yet, lying to them further wouldn't help the matter, and clearly both Ron and Hermione were trying not to bring the subject up while they set to work. Hermione throwing anxious, yet rather determined looks at Harry, and Ron -- Harry sensed -- was carrying a tense aura around him.
"Look," began Harry and as the words spilled from his mouth, Hermione quickly turned to face him, and from this, Harry couldn't help feeling if she too, was just as anxious to voice her thoughts as he was. "I – shouldn't have left you two worrying like that, I can understand you'd be – I mean surely I would have been too, but --"
"Where were you two?" interrupted Hermione, her voice serious and firm.
Harry was finding it a habit of his lately to be on the lookout for eavesdroppers and though they were quite out of earshot of everyone -- the loud clatter of potion bottles and small talk around the tables drowning out any chance of being overheard-- he couldn't help the apprehensive feeling in his stomach, telling him to wait till they were completely alone.
"I –" he started, but suddenly was cut off from a swift sound of the dungeon door slamming against the wall.
Hermione jumped at the sudden disruption. The entire class turned to see the source of disturbance. Harry felt his eyes go wide with confusion. It was…Hagrid.
But not a friendly form of Hagrid, the one you'd receive a smile from within the corridors; a perturbed and worried look was upon his face and underneath the beard, Harry could see he was somewhat pale.
"Is there," started Snape, eyeing Hagrid with false politeness at the abrupt intrusion of his class, "something you need, Professor?"
"Yeh, there is," said Hagrid, stepping further into the room. "Er – sorry fer the interruption," he added quickly, realizing the looks he was attracting. "Well er -- I think I 'ave one of yer students with meh, found her walkin' round outside."
Hagrid turned his back to the class and after a muttered rush of words Harry couldn't hear, he returned his gaze to Snape. At that moment, Harry felt his stomach heave with relief. It wasn't just any student that had stepped beside Hagrid – it was Hayley.
"I see," snarled Snape, his eyes lingering dangerously on Hayley while she kept her gaze glued to the floor, her hair shielding her face from onlookers.
"Thank you, Hagrid, if that will be all?"
"Yes, Professor…Good day ter yeh," said Hagrid, casting Harry a quick smile before turning and leaving the room, every eye upon Hayley as the door softly closed behind him.
After a moment of silence, Snape could ignore her no longer. "Five points from Gryffindor for the disturbance of my class and another five for succeeding to turn up ten minutes late," he snarled, watching Hayley with harsh eyes. The rest of the Gryffindors stared at him numbly with hate. "Take your seat now, and if you're lucky, you'll at least pass this potion with the help of your classmates," he finished sternly, looking to Harry, Ron, and Hermione with a fierce look running along his dark face.
"Draco!" snapped Snape, turning quickly to the blonde. "You are in charge while I am gone. Any more disturbances among the class report back to me, clear?"
Malfoy nodded with a smirk of pleasure forming at his lips as he glanced around at all the Gryffindors, looking back at him with the same passion of hate they had shared with Snape moments before.
"I suggest you take your seat now Miss Glenwood before you force me to remove more points from your house!"
"Yes, sir," Hayley mumbled, walking over towards Harry, Ron, and Hermione's station.
Snape left the room without another word, his robes swaying behind him as he shut the dungeon door with a sharp snap. The volume of the class returning to a dull level. Half of the students either casting watchful eyes over to Draco, recapping the scene that had just played out before them or, like many of the Gryffindors, were staring at Hayley with intriguing expressions while she made her way to the trio.
Harry was at the motion of grabbing Hayley and pulling her into the corner, but Hermione grabbed a hold of his arm and whispered urgently in his ear, "not here!" Harry twisted his head to look at her. He nodded and turned back to face Hayley. Her skin was covered in a tinge of red. Harry could feel her emotions traveling along his skin through the connection, he knew Hermione was right, it would be to risky to talk here.
"Not here, it will look suspicious," he whispered to her.
Hayley said nothing after that. She only kept staring at the potion in place upon the table and took her seat next to Ron. As the lesson proceeded, Hermione repeated the instructions to Hayley. She listened and worked to add the ingredients Hermione instructed her to and while they worked, Harry kept catching Ron glancing out of the corner of his eye at her. He had the distinctive feeling Ron was trying to catch Hayley's eye as much as Harry himself was, but she kept to work at shredding more of the ingredients Hermione was instructing them to do while she stirred the partial liquid smoking and giving off a particular smell Harry recognized from his second year.
As the bell sounded, Snape had failed to turn up from his abrupt departure. The class began packing away their cauldrons as they piled up at the door. Harry suddenly seized his chance to speak to Hayley alone.
"Where were you?" he said. "You couldn't have taken that long in the showers, Hermione said you weren't even there."
"I – I fancied a walk," said Hayley as if it was the most common thing for a person to want before classes.
"A walk?" questioned Harry.
"Fancied a walk near Hagrid's, I suppose?" said Hermione. "But that must have been this morning, right? I'm sure that wasn't on the agenda list last night for Harry and yourself."
Harry turned towards Hermione with a scandalized looked, but she stared back with a determined face.
"No, I suppose it wasn't," said Hayley looking past Harry towards Hermione.
"C'mon, why can't you two just tell us?" asked Ron.
"I do believe the bell had rung already or has Miss Glenwood taken the act of ignoring all of them completely now?" snarled a voice behind them.
They all turned to find a towering Snape above them. The menacing look beneath his eye directed at Hayley. "No, sir – sorry," said Hayley, beginning to pack her things up and throwing her bag over her shoulder, heading to the door without glancing back at the others to imply they do the same.
They rushed out of the classroom in a hurry and luckily made it out into the corridor before Snape could have shot more indolent remarks at them.
"You don't think Flitwick will mind –" started Ron but Hermione cut him off.
"We only have a minute until the bell rings!" she said, clutching her bag full of books to her side. All four of them ran along the corridor, pushing aside students walking to their next classes and ignoring the angered yells that echoed behind them. They reached the classroom door just as the bell sounded. Harry took a moment to regain his breath back while standing back up; he followed Hermione and Ron to the small table in the back of the room. Hermione and Hayley took a seat in front of them and Ron and Harry, taking their seats in the desk behind them. Harry casually leaned his head onto his hands. Giving the impression that was he taking a moment to rest, he closed his eyes, hiding his view from anyone else by covering his face more.
'What's going on with you?'
He could have easily guessed upon thinking this, that Hayley was already sensing his presence in her mind. She too, casually looked down at her parchment, trying to hide her closed eyelids from view.
'How come you didn't turn up in class and Hagrid was the one that found you?'
'Harry… please, can't this wait until tonight?' Harry opened his eyes. The plea in her voice was enough for him to snap back to reality, enough for him to quit his nagging and wait until she was ready to speak. Harry stared at Hayley, though he knew she couldn't see him, he knew she could sense him. He was about to turn his attention to Flitwick, who was already well into the lesson, until Hermione caught his eye. She was staring at him with an expression he'd never seen on her before. Her eyes were wide, her mouth was slightly hanging open and her eyes, which Harry noticed the most, were flickering back to Hayley and himself.
Harry felt an icy sensation drop into his stomach as Hermione turned away from him, the perturbed look still upon her face.
'She knows,' spoke a voice in the back of his head…has she known all along? Hermione shares a dormitory with Hayley. Surely, she would have noticed the signs Hayley displayed her first day back. Not to mention last nights event of both their disappearances…yes…surely, Ron and Hermione would have noticed something, even under Harry's attempts of trying to hide it from them.
Harry continued to flow under these thoughts, and in what seemed like he had just sat down for class, the bell rang along the corridors, indicating students to their next classes. He got up, well aware of the fact that Hermione was watching him pack away his books and spare parchment that was supposed to be full of notes, but were only blank. Hayley packed her books hastily and Harry sensed that she didn't want to be cornered and questioned again. She joined the queue lined up at the door and filing out. The Gryffindors were due at their next double Defense Against the Dark Arts, while the Slytherins began heading up to their next Divination class.
"We need to talk," said Hermione sharply, pulling him aside while Ron joined beside them. Before Harry could mutter a reply, she swiftly cut him off. "At dinner," she finished, then joined the rest of the Gryffindors still filing out of the classroom.
That lack of concentration that had surfaced during Charms, carried with Harry throughout the rest of his classes. The lingering thought that this week he would have to depart from Hayley for the holidays seemed to be weighing him down more and more as he thought upon it. Though Mr. And Mrs. Weasley thought it urgent he join them for the holidays this year when they had already decided to stay at the Order once again -- "they say we'll be able to help out the Order again, you know, clean up a bit. Getting rather dusty, mum said," -- Ron had explained to him during lunch as the subject came up after Neville had asked Hermione what she had planned for the holidays. Harry could tell by the tone in Ron's voice that the sudden arrangement to change households during Christmas wasn't due to the urgent matter of cleaning. It was a simple fact Harry knew that staying at the Order would be much safer than at the Burrow, and he couldn't help the feeling that since he was going to be in their company, it became more urgent that they stay where he can be safely guarded.
'I will be safely guarded, but Hayley won't be…'
As they deserted the Great Hall to attend the rest of the their classes, Harry found himself more than once trying to catch either Hayley or Hermione's eye. But as he came to terms with during Defense Against the Dark Arts, both girls were so absorbed in their lessons that it seemed neither could detect any other movement occurring around them. Harry was used to this kind of performance display from Hermione, but he hadn't yet discovered it with Hayley. Harry even noticed that, Hermione too, was forming a new distraction around herself, one of which consisted of staring out of the window lost in thoughts and quickly turning back to her notes after missing the important information she hadn't heard.
What was more was the fact that when it was Harry's turn to try and concentrate on the teacher's prolonging speech; he found it an exceedingly hard task to complete. It didn't make things easier for him when he caught Hermione staring at him intently with a hard, thoughtful look, and acting as if he hadn't caught her, she would turn to stare at Hayley or Ron. He could his feel his stomach twisting into uncomfortable knots as dinner approached closer…what was he going to say? Could he maybe manage to stall more time in telling them the truth?
But he realized that stalling more time would only gain more problems within the issue. The bell sounded as the last class of the day came to an end. As Harry began to pack up his things, he felt another painful twist in his stomach when he was reminded of the amount of work the sixth years were assigned to complete over the holiday, not to mention the fact of his in progress detentions with Hagrid still waiting to be completed by the end of the year. The rest of the students joined at the door talking merrily about the holiday plans in store for them, some of them were already heading to dinner with their bags still attached, and others to their common rooms. Harry spotted Hermione among the thinning line of students still working their way to get out of the room. Right as he was about to catch up to her, he felt an arm grab his and hold him in place.
"Harry…" said Ron in a hesitant voice.
"Maybe we should wait until the crowd has thinned out in the Great Hall?"
Harry, looking puzzled, tried to keep Hermione and Hayley in his sight. He gave up and turned back to Ron.
"I dunno…the way you and Hayley have been acting lately…I mean well Hermione and me got to talking last night while we were waiting for you…and well maybe…something's happened?"
"What I mean to say is, maybe a…certain secret slipped?" he answered with a dense tone.
Harry mentally sighed, he knew Ron was right. It was the only conclusion he wanted to avoid. A strength of some sort began to fill within him and he turned back to look at Ron.
Without another word, he grabbed Ron's arm and pulled him out of the room and into the hallway. If he had to tell them, the time had come and Harry only wanted to explain himself once.
"Harry, what are you –"
"Just come on!"
Harry held a tight grip on Ron's forearm until his breath finally caught in his throat and he was forced to slow down from the sudden rush. When they reached the common room, Harry muttered the password under his breath and quickly ran inside. Upon entering, he saw Hermione and Hayley exiting the girls' dormitory. Harry felt Hayley sense his presence before she had seen him and after getting Hermione's attention, he gestured them all into the corner. The same one Hermione and Ron had forced him into earlier that morning.
As he stood there, looking to and from all their confused faces, Harry was lost with words. "Harry," Hermione asked, "what is going on?" Harry caught Hayley's sharp look. Was she thinking the same thing? Did their minds not only sense one another but be able to feel the emotions being discharged from one another also? Even Ron and Hermione were at loss for words at this abrupt moment. Slowly, Harry's mouth began to move, and after several attempts, words started spilling from it. Slowly, the common room became empty, and they were offered the advantage to speak louder instead of in soft whispers that barely reached the other's ears without becoming lost within the loud chatter around them. Slowly, the thought of dinner diminished from their minds. As Harry pressed on, he had hardly realized that all four of them sometime during the story, had slid down to sit upon the floor. Both Ron and Hermione stayed silent and just listened. Hayley kept her gaze averted to the ground, avoiding the constant looks Ron or Hermione shot her whenever Harry repeated a part of the story with her in it. He hoped during the middle of the story Hayley would decide it was time for her to speak, but she kept silent.
Finally, after several long moments, Harry stopped talking and took a deep swallow, allowing his throat access to something wet after it had become so dry.
"Honestly Harry, I had assumed you both knew long before today," said Hermione.
"Long before?" asked Harry. He had assumed this.
"I didn't know for sure. You both were acting so odd around one another. It wasn't until today in charms when I knew I had been wrong."
"Actually, no, Hermione. You hadn't been wrong," interrupted Hayley. "You're right in something though. I didn't know about Harry until last night, but…I-I've known about my parents since I've left the hospital." Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Ron's expression confirm this statement. She knew he had sensed something was wrong the day she had returned.
Nobody spoke, they sat there quietly, their own thoughts engulfing them all into a tight grip. The silence echoing off the walls and whispering softly inside the surrounding, grasping them more and more into the depths of their minds. It was odd how a thought could help create the expression on one's face. They were all deeply involved in their own thoughts, but it was Harry that first noticed Hermione's deep gaze into the silent air. The silence only becoming intense and thick; he could see it was helping her conclude the deep cluster within her head.
"It's a bit odd…" she spoke distantly. Her eyes were focused sharply upon the ground. "Hayley…" she began. It wasn't a questioning tone, more of a confirming statement of her presence. "Your Mum and Dad receive the Dailey Prophet, right?"
Of all the things Hermione could have said, that was not the one Hayley was assuming it would be, and from both the looks of Ron and Harry, she wasn't the only one. "Yeah, but I've told you before, they've never let me read it. I usually have to nick them if I'm curious enough."
"Yes, yes. I know that, but they do receive the paper." She stated this not as a question, but as a clarification. "Did you ever figure out why your parents were so urgent to have you home for the holidays?" Hayley nodded. She glanced at Harry before she began to speak, "I'm assuming it was my father. He never was too keen on allowing me to come to Hogwarts from the start." When Hermione opened her mouth again, Hayley thought she would have heard another question flow out, but instead of that, it was the last clarification that had been spoken. "Your parents are getting the Daily Prophet, so obviously they're reading them."
Hayley felt grateful when Ron took matters into hand. "What in the name of Merlin has that got to do with anything, Hermione?"
With a quick turn, Hermione's quiet and whispery tone turned to one of tired and infuriation. "Haven't you been reading the Dailey Prophet?"
"Bits and pieces off and on," he said defensively.
"Well," carried on Hermione, "if you've been reading them everyday, you would see the articles about Voldemort and his followers regaining power among the smaller wizarding cities on the countryside in England and further throughout Europe."
"But," spoke Hayley, "what does this have to do with my parents?"
"Don't you see?" said Hermione, an intelligent look overcoming her previous frustrated one. "If your parents are reading the Prophet, then they surely know Voldemort's gaining power among the dark side. Your parents must think you are more safe when you go home then you would be if you are staying here."
"Wait a tic," said Ron, turning to Hayley. "You told me your parents came to Hogwarts. Don't they know Hogwarts is one of safest places from You-Know-Who as long as Dumbledore is here?" Both Hayley and Harry nodded their heads with this information. "Well that could be," Hermione started, "it may be safe, but that doesn't mean it can stop a spy from entering the castle undetected."
"A spy?" all three questioned in unison. Hermione only nodded her head. "You do all remember Bardy Crouch Jr.? Voldemort has already tried sending in spies to get after Harry and Dumbledore. Who's to say he wouldn't try it again? Only this time, I think it's more disguised than before."
"Hermione, c'mon. I'm sure Dumbledore would know if there was a spy in his castle," said Ron indignantly.
"Yeah, just like he knew Moody wasn't exactly himself all those nine months, right Ron?" said Harry but before Ron could respond, Hermione continued over them. "Sure, maybe he would suspect an adult spy more easily, but what about a student?"
"Hold on, if that's what you're assuming Hermione, my guess would be Slytherin hands down!" said Ron, his voice fierce.
Suddenly, something big clicked together inside both Harry and Hayley's mind. As if both of them were forming the same thought at the same time. If a there was a spy lingering inside the castle undetected and was a student… "Malfoy," they whispered in unity.
"Your guess is as good as mine," said Hermione intelligently. "Voldemort probably doesn't want to make or stir a huge public appearance by being detected for recruiting new Death Eaters. So, what's a better way to keep quiet from public and also for him to see who's his most loyal Death Eater?"
"But what does being loyal have anything to do with this?" asked Ron.
"Who would be the most loyal to recruit their own sons and daughters into the circle. Voldemort's gaining power and he's doing it quietly and undetected. He won't recruit anyone that may cause someone to notice. My guess is he is only getting more supporters through the people who want to be and from the sons and daughters of his Death Eaters now and probably, the most loyal one will be the one who puts their child to the extreme limit of getting the job done. Right now Harry, you're their job. Who has more of a chance to get at you than one of your fellow students."
"But what about Hayley?" asked Harry. Before Hermione could answer, Ron spoke after him. "Exactly! Malfoy's been throwing himself all over her since she's gotten here!"
"Are you surprised? Malfoy already knows you and I won't even look at him, Ron! Hayley, he knows you don't think of him as we do yet. He is assuming if he acts like a prince around you, you may give him information on Harry."
Finally, Harry voiced the long awaited question that's been haunting him ever since Hayley's arrival to Hogwarts. "So, you don't think anyone suspects who she is then?"
"Well, yes and no," said Hermione with an apprehensive look. "I think we're still safe as of now, but there have been some slips and it is incredibly hard not to notice the similar appearances. I am worried though that he may have told Voldemort of a mysterious new student arriving. I'm not sure Harry, but I truly think Voldemort and Malfoy's dad have given him orders to keep you under a close watch. In case something happens or to keep them informed about you or if anything strange or odd has been going on. I've been noticing the teachers are also keeping a close eye on you."
Harry started to feel uneasy. Of course Hermione was starting to realize these facts. Harry hadn't expected her to take long to start coming to these assumptions. He knew sometime in the near future she would discover them or at least start to see them but he wished it wouldn't have to be so soon. He still hadn't told them about the prophecy and he even now, he couldn't bring himself to. How do you tell someone you have to either die or murder? Black and white with nothing in the middle, no other solution or way out? Not even a spell to change it all. Harry pulled his mind away from these thoughts. They wouldn't change anything now in this situation, he told himself.
"I'm still surprised that git and the rest of his prats got out of Azkaban so quickly," said Ron.
"Now, with the dementors joining with Voldemort, I reckon it wasn't a hard task for them to complete," said Harry.
Hayley began zoning out their voices. She couldn't stop pondering over Malfoy's words to her weeks ago. She could remember them perfectly, he had said them so bluntly and curiously, it had to have been obvious he was up to something. She could never forget that icy penetrating voice. '"I know you're friends with the golden trio.'"
Hayley attempted to calm and clear her mind that night while in bed. She felt too clustered and congregated to sleep. She could hardly remember the night's events anymore. It had been mostly filling with words and comforting. Words her mind wouldn't stop repeating, feelings she couldn't push away, and images she didn't want to look at anymore. Harry, Ron, and Hermione had helped her to bed to make sure she was okay. She smiled at the image of them. It reminded her of when her parents would put her to bed, being rocked in their arms and falling tightly asleep onto her pillow. She had realized then and there why Will and Jane had taken such measures to keep her within their box. A box that had been filled with love and happiness and through stubbornness and selfishness, she began to see this through the wall she had created between them. A part of her did miss Will and Jane, but another didn't want to bare the good-bye Harry and her were dreading to make this week.
It was settled among them before the students had filed back into the common room from dinner to retrieve their bags for their next classes, that Hayley would indeed go home and be with her parents over Christmas. Despite how Will had sent her a letter weeks ago after she had gotten out of the hospital, informing her that she was to go home for the Christmas Holiday. Through her frustration and disappointment, Hayley knew accompanying Harry back to the Order could only put her in danger, something Hayley knew Harry would not accept or be forthcoming with. As a conclusion to help ease the anxiety of being away for two weeks, they all promised to write every other day to keep in touch. Hayley wasn't the only one going back home for the holidays, Hermione also would be meeting her parents this week.
She shivered as a breeze of cold air ran down her back, causing goose bumps to form along her skin. She pulled the covers up to her shoulders feeling the warmth cover her body. She snuggled into her pillow more, watching as the moons reflections showered over her face through the window. Hayley quickly glanced towards Hermione's bed to see her sleeping peacefully before turning back over to face the window. The night was dark and blue, the moon's image was gleaming everywhere throughout the castle's land. It was this image that helped calm her before sending her into a deep sleep, where no dreams came to disturb her.
Harry felt relief overcome him when he finally felt her fall asleep. He laid his head onto his pillow and closed his eyes. Sleep taking him in its wake also.
'Good night,' they whispered to each other in unison.