Disclaimer: As always, I own nothing
A/n: Aw heck, why not? I figured it wouldn't kill me to write a few more chapters of this story being as so many people have asked that I continue. Life kind of stopped me for a while (over a year I know, I'm sorry). Thank you to those who have been loyal to my story and begged for me to continue writing. It is to you I dedicate this next chapter.
Oh yeah, and I guess this story is AU now that the series is over. Hehe
Chapter 28: Hogwarts: A Horror (Part I)
"Forget ridin' the Hogwart's Express," Mad-Eye said the day Harry was supposed to leave for school. Sirius had left to take care of some issues with Dumbledore, and would see Harry when he arrived at Hogwarts. "We've set up a port key to teleport you from here straight to the Gryffindor Tower."
Harry looked at his two friends in regret. They had to change their whole lives because of being his companions. They only smiled back though, with no looks of remorse or anger at having been his acquaintance. A couple of days ago, Harry had even suggested that Hermione and Ron stop being his friends, to which Hermione only said, "Honestly, Harry! It's wonderful to be a friend of yours. An honor even. We wouldn't abandon you just so we can have more comfortable lives."
"Yeah, mate," Ron chimed in. "We're with you until the end. Until that sod is gone, and even after that, we'll always be here for you."
Harry had blushed but said "Thank you." Who could truly ask for more loyal friends?
Back in the present, Mad Eye cleared his throat and spoke more quietly and more severely. "Now, I don't think I have to tell the three of you how important vigilance is! Remember, the children of death eaters are attending school with you! Some of them would like nothing more than to hand you over to Voldemort, others would like a shot at you themselves. Don't ever let your guards down! Not even in Gryffindor Tower, where you probably always felt safe. The enemy can be anywhere, or have anyone under their control! Never forget that! Especially you, Harry! Constant vigilance!"
Harry nodded firmly. "Constant vigilance," he repeated quietly.
"Now," Molly Weasley said, entering from the kitchen, "each of you has a separate portkey, and someone is going with each of you, and then returning back after you are safely in the Gryffindor Commons. Hermione, you'll be with me, Ron with Mad Eye, and Harry with Kingsley."
"Are we ready?" Molly asked into the next room. Arthur and Kingsley appeared and stood beside their charges.
"Alright then," Ron said. "Who's off first?"
"We are," Mad Eye said. "We're the ones who make sure it's safe for everyone else. Want to make sure there are no dangers."
"Oh great," Ron whispered.
"Ginny will be leaving about two hours after you," Arthur said. "We're missing one of her books and she's gone to get it right now."
"Be safe, Arthur," Molly commanded.
Ron grabbed his trunk firmly with one hand, and Mad Eye held out the port key to him. Ron grasped the side of the dingy tennis shoe and the two were gone in an instant.
"Alright dear, we're next," Molly told Hermione. She held out a red vase, and as Hermione grasped hold of that, the two were off behind Ron and Mad Eye.
"That only leaves us," said Kingsley. "Are you ready?"
Harry nodded. "Not really, but yeah."
Kingsley held out a leather glove. "It's cool that the minster of magic is my chaperone," Harry smirked. Kingsley half-smiled. "It's hard to believe I'm the minister of magic. So hard to believe, I doubt it is even true." He winked at Harry. Harry gave Shacklebolt a weird expression but the glove was thrust into his hands and the two were off with a tug behind the navel.
They landed directly between the sofas in the Gryffindor common area. Mrs. Weasley and Hermione were heading upstairs, Ron was probably in the boys' room, and Mad Eye was looking at the entry way into the common room, probably trying to find ways that people could sneak in.
"Honestly, do you think I'd let some intruder in?" The Fat Lady asked when Mad Eye opened the portrait hole and looked out into the hall.
"Wouldn't be the first time," Mad Eye growled. The Fat lady "Hmphed!" and was quiet, but you could almost feel the anger leaking off of the back of the canvas as Moody re-closed the portrait.
Harry began to take his things up to the common room, leaving the chaperones downstairs to talk about security measures. He and Ron began unpacking their belongings and began to head back to the common room when they saw Hermione across the way right before the entry way to the common room. She had a finger over her lips and was waving for them to stay still.
"Honestly Moody!" Molly gasped. "Hogwarts is about the safest place on Earth. I trust that Dumbledore will have taken care to make sure every precaution is being taken. You've checked this place how many times in the past few weeks? It's safe!"
"You can never be too careful!" Moody stressed.
"You're the one who insisted they go to school anyway! I was perfectly fine with them all staying here and safe!"
"They can't be cowards, Molly! They'll have to learn to fight sooner or later! There's a war going on!"
"They are still children, Moody."
"Don't you remember the last time? The fighting isn't reserved for the adults. Children, eager to follow in the footsteps of their parents, are willing to do anything to be death eaters. At least here they shouldn't have so many problems as they will during a real battle. Call this battle practice. They can deal with their classmates now, and be more prepared to fight the real warriors later!"
"I can't believe you would throw them into the midst of this nonsense! They should be somewhere safe!"
"I'm trying to make this a safe place! You were just badgering about that."
"Sure they are safe against what is out there! But what about the dangers from their own classmates?"
"They are going to truly understand the meaning of vigilance in a short time, Molly. Potter! Weasley! Granger! Stop lurking in corners and come out to say good bye!"
Hermione looked guiltily at the other two. "I don't know how, but somehow I forgot about his eye!" she whispered to her companions.
The three walked into the main common room. "Well, if you heard what we were saying," Molly said, "then I can't stress enough to you the importance of staying safe."
"We'll be very careful, mum," Ron said.
"Where did Shacklebolt go?" Harry asked.
"He had to go back to the ministry on important business," Mad Eye said.
"Remember, constant vigilance!" And as he and Molly grabbed the vase, they were off once more back to Grimauld place.
The three hung around for a while, Hermione insisting that they begin reading their books for the school year. Ginny joined them not long after, giving Harry a long gleeful smile before taking another armchair and settling in with the fifth year potion's book.
"Well," Harry said, placing his Transfiguration book on the table nearby, "I have an odd occurrence to tell you about." Ron and Hermione eagerly looked at Harry, ready for him to spill.
"Should I leave?" Ginny asked politely.
"No need," Harry said. "You're more than welcome to stay."
Ginny smiled back at him in appreciation and closed her book as well. Harry then related the brief conversation he and Shacklebolt had had. "He winked?" Ron asked in disbelief. "Are you sure it's not a person who drank polyjuice potion?"
"For one thing, Kingsley doesn't have hair," Harry stated. "For another, he was in Grimauld place, and since he arrived on his own he had to know where it was located. So I'm pretty sure it was him."
"Well, he is the minister, whether he believes it or not," Hermione stated. "I don't know why you thought his behavior was odd. I am a bit shocked he was elected as well."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked.
"Well, he has little experience in politics for one thing," Hermione stated. "Few people outside of the ministry really knew he was."
"Well, not many people voted, did they?" Ron asked. "Everybody was too scared to go because of threats of attacks by You-Know-Who at the polling places!"
"So I guess you can kind of assume the only people who voted were already in the ministry," Harry stated. "And the people who weren't kicked out because of suspicious behavior would have trusted him enough to vote for him. So I suppose it's not as far of a stretch as you think."
"Maybe not," Hermione stated. She picked her book back up and continued to read.
A few hours later, the four went down to the dining hall and mixed themselves into the group of the returning Gryffindor. There were whispers in the crowd as they saw Harry. "Hey! He's back after all!" "Look there he is!"
The crowd made their way to the table, and Harry was aware of stares from every corner of the Great Hall, including the faculty table. The most burning stares, however, were from the Slytherins across the hall. They wouldn't dare try anything with Dumbledore right at the front, it would be after that the real dangers occurred.
The doors opened and the first years walked into the Great Hall, small and amazed at the sights of the Great Hall, more wonderful than their siblings and parents had expressed. The best sight to them , however, was that of Harry Potter at the Gryffindor table. Some smiled, some blushed, some snarled, and some looked at him with puzzled expressions. A couple looked simply clueless as to who Harry was and why everyone was staring at him so earnestly.
McGonagall stood in front of everyone and greeted them, holding the Sorting Hat for all to see. "First off, I would like to welcome all of you returning students, and I hope we have a… nice year. Secondly, I would like to welcome our First Year Students! As we prepare to sort, I would like for you to remain respectful."
She began calling names from the list, and one by one the new children were sorted into their houses. The ones who snarled at Harry were all sorted into Slytherin, he was sure.
"I have a few words to say before we begin this feast," Dumbledore said in his stern yet somehow comforting voice. The entire hall became quiet as everyone turned to face the headmaster. "While the outside world will indeed influence all of your lives, I will ask you to please leave personal feelings toward occurrences outside of these walls from the classrooms and the hallways of Hogwarts. I do not want anyone to get hurt, and I do not want to send anyone away. But I will do what is necessary. We are at war, and while I do not want to sugar-coat the facts for you, I do want to shield you as much as possible from danger. The only way I can do that is if you cooperate with me. Now, enjoy the feast!"
The wonderful spread of food appeared in front of the students, and they all eagerly reached for the center of their tables. Harry shot a nervous glance in the direction of the headmaster, who winked at Harry as he turned back to the others at the teachers table. "He can't really expect a speech like that to keep the Slytherins from trying to follow in their parents' footsteps, can he?" Ron asked.
"Absolutely not!" Hermione spoke up. "I think it's just a final warning that's all. Sort of a last effort to keep students from making a mistake that they might end up regretting later."
"I hope some people listen," Harry whispered, shooting a glance toward the Slytherin table. He caught the eyes of Draco Malfoy, who snarled back as if a pit bull fixed upon his prey.
"This is gonna be a great year," Neville muttered from beside Harry. The trio heard the dread within his voice. They all knew that this truly would be a harsh year for all of them.
On their way back to the common rooms, Harry felt the stares of nearly every student upon his back. "I can't stand this anymore," he whispered to Ron and Hermione, who were on either side of him. "I can feel their eyes burning into the back of my head." With that, he turned down a random corridor and dodged quickly out of sight of the oncoming students. Ron and Hermione lost track of him, as he moved quickly and suddenly, his reflexes much quicker than theirs from years on the Quidditch field. He knew that he just had to wait a little while for everyone to retire into their bedchambers. Then he would sneak back inside of the common rooms and go to bed himself.
A sound behind him made him turn quickly and pull out his wand. His face met with a fist that smashed into his nose as he heard the crunch of cartilage and his eyes filled with tears. "Expelliarmus!" someone yelled, and his wand flew uselessly to the floor. He couldn't see who his assailant was, he only struck out and connected with someone's chin. Monstrous arms wrapped themselves around his and held him up by the armpits. Harry was lifted up to face Crabbe and Malfoy. He had almost known that it was them to start with anyway. Another punch to the side of his face dislodged his glasses from the bridge of his nose. Harry kicked up with his legs and struck Malfoy right between the legs so that Malfoy doubled over in pain and landed on the ground. Using his elbow, Harry tried to jab Goyle in the ribs to hopefully break something and get away. Unfortunately, the only thing he hit though was a thick layer of muscle-covered fat. Goyle threw Harry away from himself and right into Crabbe, who grabbed Harry's left arm and twisted it in such a manner that it snapped. For the second time in his life, he experienced the pain of a broken arm—not at all pleasant for anyone who has ever experienced it. Malfoy regained his feet and turned on Harry. Punching wildly into the dark haired boy's face. Harry made a few swings in Malfoy's direction, at one point boxing Draco in an ear. Three on one is by no means fair, however, especially when a wizard is without his wand. Within moments, Harry was left, nose and various other body parts bleeding, crumpled up on the floor as footsteps backed away.
"Tell anyone what happened, and I'll kill the little Chinese girl in her sleep," Draco hissed before turning away.
'This year is going to be torture," Harry thought grimly, before a final kick from someone behind came to his tail bone, breaking it and knocking him unconscious.
A/n: First update in a long time. Tell me what you thought!