Disclaimer: Yeah, I own this. I just lie here writing on my chaise longue by the side of my Olympic-size pool in my Armani bikini…I wish.
Becki's Note: I know I have been updating very frequently, but it may not last. Sooner or later I will come across a writer's block, so please be prepared. Thankyou again to:
Aravis Traitre: I'm not quite sure what to make of that review, but I'm taking it as good… :P
Lady Pyra: Thankyou, I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long.
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Ron's voice rang shrilly in Harry's ears.
'What the hell is going on?'
Without a glance at the other silent spectators, the three made their way alone into the centre of the entrance hall, and watched as two figures walked slowly through the huge doors, carrying what was unmistakably a body.
As they entered, a hushed whisper went around the room.
'You know who?'
'Was it him?'
'Who is it?'
Professor Dumbledore raised his head and looked at Harry. He knew, somehow, that the headmaster wanted to speak with him. Urgently. But he didn't want to interrupt the stone silence that had settled upon the crowd watching.
As they passed by, the body drifting up the stairs on a magical stretcher, Harry caught a glimpse. It was Anthony Goldstein, the same boy who had faked death a week ago, and whom Harry had laughed at. It was a strange feeling: not grief or remorse, but almost a sense of déjà vu. He did not speak, but made his way silently to Dumbledore's office, where he knew the headmaster would return to. How long he would have to wait he did not know, but frankly he didn't care. Ron and Hermione followed him like shadows, flitting just out of his vision.
When they reached the gargoyle, Harry realised, not for the first time, that he didn't know the password. However, to Harry's great surprise, Hermione spoke.
The moving staircase appeared, and Harry did not question her. He stepped onto a stone step and let himself be carried upwards. Ron and Hermione did not follow.
♠ * ♠
Harry didn't knock, but strode confidently into the room which had become almost familiar to him over the years. He took a seat in a squashy armchair and settled down to wait.
While he sat, staring at the pile of ashes on Fawkes' perch, he had a lot of time to think. Although everyone assumed the murder was Voldemort's work, Harry couldn't help thinking that the Dark Lord was unlikely to make pointless killings. He hadn't known much about Anthony, except that he was a Ravenclaw, and took Hermione's Muggle Studies class. Surely no one except Hermione would take that class if they were muggle born. And anyway, she would have used that as ammunition in her constant fights with Ron over the subject, which he never seemed to grow tired of.
So why would Voldemort want to kill him? He wasn't muggle-born, and had no connection with Dumbledore as far as Harry knew, apart from being his student. And if that was the reason, well, they were all doomed. They were all students and therefore all at risk.
He began to contemplate the terror and panic that would surely sweep the school if this line of thought was taken up. No one would be safe, and the freedom they had of roaming around the school and grounds would be lost. Countless more people could be slaughtered, if Voldemort was behind it. But still, Harry had a hard time believing something like that would really happen. Mass slaughter and terror throughout the Wizarding community, Harry could believe that of the Dark Lord, but starting at Hogwarts? Where Dumbledore, the only man Voldemort had eve feared, resided? Surely not. If that was Voldemort's plan, he had obviously got a screw loose. Either that or he just hadn't thought the whole thing out. More likely, it just wasn't Voldemort.
If anyone knew, it would be Dumbledore.
After around fifteen minutes, there was a squawk from Fawkes' perch, and Harry turned to look as a baby bird staggered to its feet, blinking blearily at him. He smiled. Maybe they shouldn't give up hope just yet.
♠ * ♠
Professor Dumbledore opened the door slowly, and Harry saw that the twinkle in his eyes had vanished; only temporarily he hoped. Harry stood up to greet the headmaster, but Dumbledore motioned him to sit back down. Only when he was sat behind his desk, tips of his fingers together and half-moon glasses on the end of his nose, did Dumbledore speak.
'Thank you for waiting so patiently for me, Harry. I have no doubt that you understand the seriousness of the situation.'
Harry did not know whether Dumbledore expected an answer, but thought it best to wait for him to continue.
'Before I ask anything of you, have you any questions to ask me?'
Harry tried not to look too surprised, but obviously hadn't been too successful, as Dumbledore smiled at him with the twinkle back in his eye again. However, it faded with his smile.
'I've only got one thing I really want to know.' He looked up at Dumbledore.
'Was it Voldemort?'
The bluntness of this question clearly shocked him, but Dumbledore answered calmly.
'As always, Harry, you ask the question for which I do not, at present, have an answer. It may, indeed, have been Voldemort who murdered Anthony Goldstein, but, like yourself I think, I have my doubts.'
'He is dead then?'
'Yes.' Dumbledore lowered his gaze for a second, then looked back up at Harry. 'He was hit by the Avada Kedavra curse. There was no hope of healing him.'
Harry could not think of an adequate response to this.
'Oh.' He felt very stupid. 'Was he on his own?'
'No. He was walking round the edge of the Forbidden Forest with Zacharias Smith. The curse could not have been aimed at anyone but one of those boys. It was not a chance hit.'
Strangely enough, that was the question Harry had been preparing himself to ask, but was not at a loss for queries to spring upon the headmaster.
'So someone meant to kill him. Why?'
Dumbledore gave a sad kind of smile.
'You have as much idea about that as anyone, possibly more.' He looked Harry straight in the eye now. 'Is there anything you know about Anthony that he may have been hiding from me or his classmates?'
Harry thought hard. This had obviously been the reason Dumbledore had wanted to speak to him so urgently. But was there anything? All Harry knew about was the DA and Muggle Studies.
'No.' He thought for a second. 'You could ask Hermione though. She knows- knew him better than I did.' It felt strange to be using the past tense to talk about Anthony. It had been the same with Cedric. It had seemed like the final settling; being able to talk about him as a person long gone and beyond resurrection. This was somehow easier with Anthony – maybe it was because he didn't know him as well, and hadn't watched him die. But he could picture vividly Anthony falling to the ground in a flash of green light. He had seen it more than once before. Or possibly it was just easier with experience. It was a horrible thought, but nevertheless probably true.
'Miss Granger' Dumbledore said 'would probably know no more than I do.'
'Then why ask me?' Harry asked. He blushed slightly – he hadn't meant to sound so rude.
Dumbledore, however, didn't seem to mind.
'I just hoped…well, thought…never mind. It was just that with your visions lat year, you just seemed to know…' he broke off, looking sad. 'Forgive me, Harry. Yet again I have placed an old man's burdens on your shoulders. If only we knew…' he fell silent, and Harry somehow sensed that it was time to leave.
'Thank you, Professor.'
Dumbledore merely smiled as Harry opened the door and stepped out onto the staircase. It didn't seem a very good omen: leaving Dumbledore alone, looking older and wearier than ever before.
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Becki's Note II: I'll be disappointed if I haven't got any new reviewers by now, so pleeeeeeeeeease REVIEW!!!!!!! Even if it's a flame, at least I'll know someone's reading this…HINT. HINT. HINT!!!!!