Author: C. Night

Rating: PG-13

Category: Romance/ Angst/ Action& Adventure

Disclaimer: As a Harry Potter fan I trust that you can recognize what belongs in the series and what doesn't. Anything in the HP series belongs to JKR and a series of other very privileged people, I do not take credit for them. As for people, events, and places of my own invention...I will let you borrow them if you ask nicely. :)

Author's Notes: Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure and Dumbledore-ish-ly twinkling eyes that I present to you the first chapter of another roller coaster ride of a story that I've come up with. I solemnly swear that in this story there will be enough cliff hangers, laughter, and sarcastic remarks to make reading it time well spent. ::sigh:: It's nice to be back. If you are wondering about Diary of a Tainted Aristocrat please see my profile for a nice neat explanation of everything. Thanks.

To the newcomers, this is a sequel of sorts, but it can be read alone, but there will be some confusion. Not much, but enough that I would recommend that you read my first story Getting Out or Dying Tying first.

Special thanks to my wonderful beta reader, thesteffis, who has daringly swooped in and saved us all from the deadly swarm of terrifying grammatical and spelling mistakes and mobs of terribly worded sentences that once roamed the pages of this chapter. Though we are all eternally grateful to our hero, I ask that you please hold your applause. :P





Title: Inquiring Minds

We are strange and beautiful asleep; for we are dying of the darkness and we know no death.

-Thomas Wolfe

Chapter 1: Sleeping Beauty

All it took was the wave of a wand to bring the dark hallway to light. All it took was the gentle whispers of two cloaks to bring that very same dark corridor to life. All it took was one figure, bathed in shadow, to make that hallway seem so much more ominous.

And it all took was a second, slightly smaller figure, trailing slowly after the first, to make any who happened to see the sight of that corridor and the two in it immediately sympathetic.

A tall, stern-looking woman marched ahead of a young girl, who seemed to amble down the passageway in her wake, just as a lost soul wanders aimless through the afterlife.

The marching woman wore high heels which hit the marble floor with a force and precision that seemed lethal.

Clump, Clump, Clump!

The girl seemed dazed and preoccupied - not even daring to look up at the woman she was following. She was, instead, lost in her own thoughts and vaguely following the gunshot-like clumping of the heels.

After a few minutes, the young woman shook her head as if to clear cobwebs away and idly noticed the light padding of her trainers on the solid floor of the corridor - a stark contrast to the hammering in her chest and to the blasting clap of the pointed heels of the witch in front of her.

For the first time in her life, she felt completely flustered and harassed.

Completely and utterly out of control.

Usually during the school year she made it a point to never allow one hair on her head to fall out of place, to never allow herself to appear inept, and to never let anyone see her at anything less than her best.

But as the girl approached the stone gargoyle guarding the entrance to the Headmaster's office, she noted to herself that she had failed miserably.

Her hair was a tangled mass of curly black strands, clinging to the sweat on her face and the blood sticking thickly to her forehead. The young lady's school robes were torn slightly at various places and a rather large bruise was forming on her pale, yet beautiful, face.

Professor McGonagall, esteemed Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, seemed to scowl as she whispered, "Canary Creams," at the gargoyle.

She and the young lady trailing her stepped aboard the spiraling staircase to Headmaster Dumbledore's office, and the girl moved her blood-covered hand to swipe at her muddled black locks.

She stared intently at the Transfiguration Professor as they spiraled with the staircase, sighing in relief when she realized that the jarring pounding of her Professor's heels on the floor had ceased.

As she twirled her dirty hair around her fingers she pondered things idly, 'I should just use my wand to clean myself up, but maybe there's some kind of magical build up from the spell combinations? I should ask Professor Mc Gonagalll.'

The girl opened her mouth to do just that when another though stopped her, 'Seeing as the damned teacher hasn't even really looked at me once since she burst into the-'

The girl then made it a point to re-direct her thinking to something - anything - else.

The young woman began to mentally prepare herself for what was sure to be the most demanding, tiring, excruciatingly examining ordeal of her life. Though McGonagall had not yet told her anything, she knew what was to be expected. She was going to have to explain herself, and her relationship, to Merlin-only-knew how many people.

But one thing she did know was that they were all going to object to the relationship. There was no need to even doubt the facts.

This was Harry-bloody!-Potter we were talking about after all, right? Of course they wouldn't want their savior dating the daughter of a Death Eater, the fiancé - or perhaps that was now former fiancée - of a Death Eater to be.

Honestly, the fact that she was engaged should have been enough to make them steer Harry away from her, but no... let's add traditionally tied to the Dark Arts to the list as well, shall we?

'Damn it all to' she began to think to herself.

The thought was interrupted by very ominous noise.

Knock, knock.

Somehow, in no time at all, the girl found herself and the Professor already at the large mahogany door of the Headmaster's office.

Professor McGonagall lifted her hand to rap at the door again, with no hesitation, and for a moment she had the crazy urge to snatch the woman's wrist, slam her head into the stone wall leading up the passage, and run away like a madwoman.

But before she could start to raise her arm-

"Enter," came the solemn voice of Professor Dumbledore and simply by his tone, she knew that there was no escape.

The Headmaster wanted to hear this story and she was the only person who could tell it to him.

Merlin, this was going to be difficult.

She stepped through the threshold of Professor Dumbledore's office and felt something sweep over her quickly.

Most who walked through that door would not have noticed it, but unlike most others, this young Slytherin had a very firm command of the magic that swept through her veins and she could feel it when an outside source of magic even brushed her skin.

She quickly listed in her mind the types of spell one would layer a doorway with, but before she could finish, her thoughts were interrupted by the very noticeable changes to the décor of the room.

As this girl had been in the Headmaster's domain many a time, she had become quite accustomed to the quaint little office.

Now, however, it had been expanded into a rather large, rectangular room. The Headmaster's desk, along with his shelves of knick-knacks and cabinet of secret whispering contraptions, had all been moved to one side of the room, out of the way, along with Fawkes and his perch.

In the center of the room, its back facing the girl, was a very plush, very cozy looking armchair. In front of the armchair was a small round table which held a large oval basin that looked eerily similar to a Pensieve.

She stared at it for a long moment before she noticed the chairs that Professor McGonagall had begun to conjure up all around the room. They were not nearly as opulent as the chair in the center, but nonetheless, they were obviously going to soon have people sitting in them. That fact alone was enough to make the witch a bit more anxious than she had been previous to their conjuring.

Before she could even begin to count the number of seats she was conjuring, or take note of the way the Professor was arranging them around the fancy chair in the center - she knew there was a pattern there somewhere - the girl was brought out of her musings by the Headmaster's voice.

"My dear," his willowy voice said sadly from his position at one of the windows, "I do believe you've had quite the evening."

The girl stared at the Headmaster's back as he silently gazed out the window and nodded her head.

Indeed, the evening had easily been the most exciting, dangerous, and craziest of her life.

The old mage began to pace along the far wall of the office, where five tall windows had been placed. He continued to speak to the girl without looking at her, as seemed to be the trend of the evening. "But, I am afraid, child, that because Harry is quite unavailable at the moment, you are going to have to be the one to explain everything to us."

'So this was it then?' She thought angrily.

He was going to sit her down, invite about thirty people – that was a guess as she hadn't been able to count all the seats yet - and then make her describe how her entire world was turned on its axis by one boy in a matter of months, and then describe how in turn she had driven that boy to...

'I am not recalling that moment,' she thought stubbornly. 'That is not the Harry I know, not the Harry I...'

Hundreds of times she had stopped herself from finishing thoughts like that one. Thousands of times she had told herself to stop dramatizing the simple feelings of the average sixteen year old in a relationship, but for the first time on this evening of revolution and rash judgments, she let herself finish the thought.

"Love," she accidentally said aloud, immediately following it up with a relieved sigh.

Her eyes widened comically at her stupidity. She could not believe she had vocalized her thoughts, and quite loudly at that.

At the word, Professor Dumbledore ended his pacing and whirled around to face her. Her looked as if he was about to say something, but instead his eyes roved over her body quickly, widening slightly as they scanned.

The Headmaster seemed to pause for a moment before stepping closer to her, his hands opening in what might have been a hug, but her expression halted that progression dead in its tracks.

Instead, he settled on saying, "Good heavens, child! Perhaps the evening had been harder on you than I had anticipated."

Before the girl could respond, Dumbledore had turned to Professor McGonagall and gently chided, "Minerva! Could you of not taken our young charge down to the Infirmary before marching her up here?"

Professor McGonagall, who had been making several adjustments to the room, paused and looked at the girl properly for the first time. Her eyes softened and remorse seemed to spread across her face like lava erupting from a single point around her eyes.

She opened her mouth in apology, but the girl simply stopped the mindless blithering of regret before it began, "It's fine," she said shortly.

'Harry would be proud of me,' she thought, 'I didn't even make a snide remark after I said that.'

Unfortunately, the thought distracted her enough to allow Professor McGonagall to give her a quick pat on the shoulder.

'I feel distinctly nauseous,' the girl thought while struggling not to let her face show the disgust she was feeling. 'Honestly, what was it with Gryffindors and all the touching?'

To this young woman, physical contact between friends was an unnecessary exertion of energy. In her view, the ability to express emotion verbally was one that should be valued highly and practiced frequently.

The only kind of touching she readily and easily accepted was that of the intimate variety. Only when caught in the clutches of desire, lust, and passion, did she encourage, savor and sometimes even demand direct physical contact.

Otherwise - it was hands off the merchandise.

The girl sighed as McGonagall stared at her trying to gauge whether or not she was going to hex the woman's hand off for touching the teenager's shoulder. She decided not to, as the Professor had at least managed to refrain from hugging her.

Hugs were too coddling, for this proud snake of the dungeons, even in intimate situations. Lovers or not, she always found it preferable that everyone keep their anaconda-like arms to themselves.

Hugs, she had always thought, are some kind of slow suffocation...except those from Harry.

Kissing and hugging are completely different, and in her experience she had found that hugging implied some kind of mutual caring. It was a type of patient and indulgent adoration that she had never really felt for anyone, but the once detestable Potter.

The boy had broken all the rules when it came to her, and surprisingly she found herself yearning to fall into his warm, gentle, and capable arms right at that moment.

'I don't want to explain everything alone. I need you, Harry,' she thought not to herself but more pleading with the universe. As though in thinking it and admitting it to herself, she was able to send out some kind of signal to him that she needed him desperately.

Professor Dumbledore watched the young woman before him muse silently and his eyes twinkled at the thoughts raging through her mind frantically. It seemed to him that while Harry's taste in women had initially been an unexpected shock, learning more about their relationship was going to be a pleasant experience.

With that thought in mind, Professor Dumbledore reached over and placed one of his warm and worn hands on the girl's arms, bringing her back to reality.

The wise wizard checked her over for any other injuries outside of the obvious with a sweep of his electric-blue all-knowing eyes, as McGonagall returned to the organization of the office.

The Headmaster then took a step back and slowly took out his wand.

Reflexively, the girl noticed, she had flicked her wrist and allowed her wand to fall quickly to her hand.

The Professor's lips twitched a bit as she smiled a bit sheepishly at him. The Headmaster noted with a bit of sadness that the Slytherin kept the wand firmly in her hand.

After a moment, he seemed to resign himself to the fact that she obviously did not trust him implicitly, and nodded. Then, in a flash, his wand was waving, words were being mumbled and bright lights were racing across the room to the young witch.

Soon, her face was no longer bloody or bruising, her hair had been charmed clean - and in the process straight - and her blood-soaked outer-robes were- with their Slytherin crest and all- gone.

Overall, she was left standing in the Headmaster's newly revamped office in her pleated Hogwarts skirt, a crisp, pristine, white blouse with a clean face and straight hair.

Professor Dumbledore looked her up and down once more quickly before gesturing for her to take a seat.

She moved to sit in one of the wooden chairs McGonagall had created when Dumbledore stopped her by saying, "No, please, sit in the center if you would."

Her eyebrows shot into her hairline at his request and she didn't move an inch. She appeared to be trembling slightly in either anger or fear and both Professors watched her carefully as her mind seemed to almost visibly race across the room.

She knew there had to be a reason she was being asked to sit in the middle of the room.

It was as though she was being put on trial or facing an interrogation. The other chairs of the room were all arranged around the one Professor Dumbledore requested that she be seated in, and it didn't seem as though their arrangement was an accident.

She was tired, lonely, and more than anything else, scared.

She felt as though there was a fierce and stubborn lion residing in her soul, tearing away at the fabric of her very being. She was worried about Harry - more scared for him than she'd ever been - and this bastard of a Headmaster was asking her to put all that anxiety aside, and explain all of their relationship to what seemed like the entire bloody Order, in order to enable them to help Harry.

She didn't understand why she had to explain everything, sure it could help a great deal, but it also could end up being a waste of time. It would make more sense to simply have to explain what happened that night and see what could be gleaned from that. After all if it wasn't for the events of that night, they would probably still be keeping the relationship a secret.

The absolute truth was that while revealing the whole story to everyone who needed to know would be the right thing to do, it was beginning to wear on her… and they hadn't even started yet. And honestly, what did she care about "doing the right thing"?

She sighed loudly and decided not to do anything, yet. She sat down in the squishy chair and watched as the Headmaster waved his wand and all the chairs in the room became much more extravagant.

'Trust the Headmaster to take everything to the extreme,' she thought tiredly.

The young witch leaned back into her chair and closed her eyes. For a moment, silence reigned in the office, before it was intruded upon by the door slamming open.

Though she was essentially fine as far as her health was concerned, the young lady was still disgustingly jumpy.

At the slam, the girl flew out of her chair, in panic, and with her wand in hand, aimed it at the door.

Much to her surprise - and intense annoyance - she found herself faced with Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom.

All of Potter's most trusted Defense Association members were here to listen to her tell them all about how their little hero was currently lying in the Hospital Wing; actually it was probably St. Mungo's due to the severe nature of the injuries.

All of Potter's best friends were so graciously in attendance to hear the tale of how he was corrupted by the evil Slytherin bitch.

The girl didn't want to tell anyone the story of her relationship with Potter - let alone the five people who she knew were going to be on her back about everything that had happened, before she could even finish a sentence. She could, she knew, trust Granger to nitpick every little damn thing that went wrong.

The young witch seemed not to realize that as her thoughts were racing, her wand was still pointing directly at the heart of a startled and highly confused Ron Wealsey. Professor Dumbledore, sensing Ron's silent plea for help, calmly walked over to the girl and lowered her arm slowly.

He seemed to be able to sense her nervousness and annoyance at having to explain herself to a group of people who were already glaring at her with suspicion and anger in their eyes.

The Headmaster whispered to her, "You won't have to say a word, but nonetheless I am afraid that you will be explaining everything about your relationship with Harry to them."

The teen's eyebrows furrowed in confusion and Professor Dumbledore let her ponder that one for a moment.

Ron Weasley, however was not doing any pondering. He had questions and he was ready to demand answers. The angry redhead opened his mouth widely at first to yell out an inquiry when his girlfriend, Hermione Granger, elbowed him in the ribs. After he finished squawking indignantly about it, she indicated to him that he should quietly ask McGonagall his question.

Ron could see it in his girlfriend's eyes that she was dying to know the answer to his question as well, and took that to mean that it wasn't a stupid query at all.

So Ron Weasley opened his mouth and, remembering Hermione's plea to be quiet, whispered to McGonagall, "Who is she and what is she doing here?"

Professor McGonagall simply stared at them wide-eyed, seemingly shocked that Harry had kept so much from his friends, and that even brilliant, bookish Granger hadn't the slightest clue as to why this young girl not only had the right to be present for this little meeting, but was going to be the main source of information on their best friend's condition.

The Transfiguration Professor forcibly lifted her jaw off the floor and quickly responded that the five students would find out the answers to all of their questions when everyone else had arrived.

The young Slytherin sitting in the center of the room rubbed at her eyes tiredly and leaned into the soft lining of her chair.

Professor Dumbledore smiled benignly over the top of his half moon glasses as he watched the girl doze off. He smoothly took out his wand, pointed to the young lady, and muttered a few words.

'It's better this way,' he thought. 'Now once she gets up we can get this all over with.'

Taking advantage of her slumber, Dumbledore excused himself from his office and retreated to his chambers where he proceeded to make a few fire-calls. When he walked back into his office five minutes later, Remus Lupin was already stepping out of the fire place.

Remus looked worn and anxious and the first words out of his mouth were, "How's Harry?"

Unfortunately, the Headmaster was unable to say a word as the fire lit up emerald-green once more and out spewed Arthur Weasley, soon followed by Bill, Charlie, and Molly, all of whom appeared to have dressed hurriedly and hopped into the fire.

Inquiries on Harry's health, location, and general mental state swarmed the Headmaster like bees on honey, but he easily deflected all of them with a single proclamation.

"Come in, come in, and sit down," Professor Dumbledore greeted the entire room which was rapidly filling with Aurors, Ministry officials, and various others. "All will be explained once everyone else is here, but for now, would anyone care for a lemon drop?"

The assembled group either sighed or rolled their eyes. After all, seeing as they were all members of the Order of the Phoenix, of which Albus Dumbledore was leader, and had, by now, become accustomed to his evasion tactics.

They knew it could be anywhere from hours to seconds until they got their answers, so they chose to simply find somewhere to sit and mutter to each other - all of them making predictions on where Harry was and how he had gotten there.

Among the assembled, Ron Weasley was certainly not one praised for his enduring patience. He shot frequent, perturbed glances at the lightly dosing girl in the center of the room. He knew that she must be a student at the school as she wore the uniform, but sadly admitted to himself that he had no idea who she was.

Curious and bored by the mutterings of the adults around him, he turned to Hermione, distracting her from her incessant gnawing at her finger nails.

"Who is that girl anyway, Mione?" he asked her quietly.

Hermione Granger's hands flew from her mouth and her eyes narrowed, "Honestly, Ron!" she scolded in a voice Ron knew all too well, "you've only had Potions and Care of Magical Creatures with the girl for the past six years."

"Alright," Ron muttered, annoyed. "When you put it like that it sounds really bad that I don't know who she is."

Hermione harrumphed angrily before sighing and resuming her nervous fingernail biting.

Ron watched fascinated for a moment before he took notice of something. "Professor Dumbledore?" he questioned the aged Headmaster, who was walking around the room with a crystal urn full to the brim with lemon drops. "Who are we waiting for? It seems like everyone who should be here already is…"

"... and even some who shouldn't be here," Ron added darkly to himself while simultaneously grabbing a handful of sweets and shooting a dark glare at the napping Slytherin in the center of the room.

Professor Dumbledore's eyes twinkled amusedly as he intoned in a jolly voice back to Ron, "I'm afraid that there are a few more guests we must wait for before we may awaken our Sleeping Beauty, and hear her tale."

Before Ron could respond, Dumbledore had ambled away, pressing some lemon drops into the hands of a pale and worn looking Professor McGonagall as he went.

"Sleeping Beauty?" he muttered to himself quietly, "What on Earth was he on about?"

It wasn't hard for Ron to figure out that Dumbledore was referring to the mystery girl sitting in the center of the room sleeping, but beauty?

The redhead turned to the girl's figure and gave her his full attention. He could not see all of her, but her face was turned toward him and he was able to study her features extensively, content with the knowledge that she wouldn't know he was staring.

She had a perfectly oval shaped face and delicately carved eyebrows. Her skin was clear and she had an even tan, which made her dark hair stand out a bit less than it would have, had her face been as pale as Harry's.

She had medium-sized lips which were parted in what looked like a continual sigh, and every now and then, her mouth would close tightly and her forehead would crease as though she was having a nightmare.

The most striking thing about her that Ron could see was easily her hair. Ram-board straight and draping past her shoulders, it seemed to shimmer in the flickering candle-light of the office.

Every now and then the girl would shift in her sleep and strands of midnight black silk would move in front of her pink lips or over her lightly closed eyelids and Ron had the sudden urge to move closer to her. To tuck those errant strands away behind her ear and off her eyelids, to delicately pluck the locks off her lips and-

"Still trying to figure out who she is?"

Ron's dangerous thoughts were interrupted by Hermione's faintly annoyed voice. He coughed loudly in his shock, causing a few people to turn and stare at him, before he listlessly and needlessly straightened his sweater and turned to his girlfriend, twisting his face into what he hoped was an expression of innocent incredulity.

Having lived with Fred and George's trouble-making tendencies for so long, the youngest male Weasley was well aware that looking perfectly innocent was, more often than not, exactly what got you caught. And, he knew, Hermione was far too smart a witch to fall for an attempt at puppy-dog eyes.

Ron stared at Hermione, as he tried to concoct the perfect facial expression. His girlfriend was beautiful in her own way, he noted to himself.

Her hair was still the same mousy brown as ever, but instead of trying to fight to bushy mass, she had taken to embracing its frizzy style and applying tiny bits of Sleekeasy's Frizz Reducer to it daily. While it ended up nowhere near as straight as it had been for the Yule Ball in their fourth year, the brown curls had become a stylish array of waves atop an absolutely brilliant mind.

"If you still don't know who she is, I'll tell you, but honestly, Ron, you should really get to know our classmates better, even if she is a Slytherin. It doesn't mean that-"

"A SLYTHERIN!" Ron yelled, interrupting Hermione's speech on inter-house and school-wide friendships. His girlfriend's eyes narrowed in annoyance as he continued on his tirade, but in more docile tones, "What do you mean a Slytherin? Why on earth would she be here if she's in Slytherin? Unless..." Ron continued with narrowing eyes, "she is the reason Harry isn't here. The reason he might be hurt, the reason he could be-"

"SHHH!" Hermione said annoyed, but this time it was not to keep Ron at a manageable volume, but to keep him from speaking at all.

"Don't you dare," Hermione began in low dangerous tones, "make such vile assumptions about Harry's well-being. He isn't here, but we'll find out why, Ron, without any ridiculous assumptions along the way!"

Amazingly, Hermione had managed to yell at Ron and get to her feet in indignation without raising her voice even once. But, in the process, she had captured the attention of everyone else in the room.

Ron was staring at her with something akin to fright in his eyes and his mouth set in a grim line. He opened his mouth to say something that would undoubtedly get Hermione even angrier with him when he was interrupted by a smooth baritone from the doorway of Dumbledore's office.

"Well, well ,well," the voice began mockingly, "trouble in paradise? And here I thought the Weasel and-" there was a pause here as the owner of the voice glanced around the room, "-Mud-Granger would be strolling obliviously down lover's lane as usual."

Hermione's eyes narrowed even further and Ron jumped up to stand beside his girlfriend, "What are you doing here, Malfoy?"

Draco Malfoy narrowed his eyes and his lips twisted into a smirk. For a moment, Ron was distracted by those lips. Pink, medium sized lips that looked very familiar. He snapped his head around and stared at the girl who was still sleeping despite everything going on, and looked back at Malfoy.

"You have the same mouth!" Ron exclaimed in triumph, not realizing how bizarre his statement sounded.

Malfoy's silver-grey eyes widened in shock before he quickly hid the expression. "Got it in one, Weasely. This must be a first for you, someone quick! We must mark down this historical event!"

"Let's hear a productive response, Malfoy," Hermione demanded before Malfoy could continue his dramatization.

"Yes, I am indeed here for my cousin, and that's all I need to tell the likes of you," Malfoy continued staring at Hermione with abject disgust on his face.

Luna, Neville and Ginny who had until that point kept quiet jumped up in Hermione's defense. Malfoy found himself on defense - taking on five classmates alone - but proudly stood his ground, trading insults with stinging speed and cruelty.

While the six exchanged petty insults and repetitive comments, Malfoy didn't even realize his well-being was protected by a certain Molly Weasley.

Mrs. Weasley had a hand on her husband's arm, restraining him from jumping on the Malfoy heir and demanding that he disclose the location of his father, who was still very high up on the list of known Death Eaters at large.

Unfortunately, that restraining arm did not extend to Ronald Weasley, who was growing impatient, worried for Harry and annoyed with Malfoy. "The likes of her, eh? Let me tell you something, Malfoy. One of Hermione's nose hairs is worth more than-"

"Nose hairs, Weasel? Really? I had been unaware that the Mudblood was growing a bit of fuzz in the nasal cavity, but thank you ever so much for that valuable information," Malfoy bit back scathingly.

"HOW DARE YOU CALL HER THAT!" Ron yelled as he advanced on Malfoy, wand raised offensively. Many of the adults in the room were rising from their chairs, wands out and prepared to stun one or both of the boys before things got out of hand, though many had their wands aimed simply at the pale Slytherin.

The vile term he had used had not gone unnoticed by the Order members loitering about the room, and it seemed as though young Draco was going to learn a thing or two.

Remus Lupin was one of the few in the room who had remained seated. His concern for Harry was paramount over all else at this point. As Harry's surrogate god-father Remus cared a great deal for the young wizard and at the moment was feeling a fierce protectiveness for the mysteriously absent boy.

Remus's eyes flitted across the room searching for Dumbledore to put an end to the meaningless bickering and get straight to the point of the meeting. He, like Ron, was beginning to grow very curious as to why the dozing Slytherin was in attendance.

However, as she was a former student of his, Remus understood that the often times aloof girl was brilliant in terms of her speedy spell casting and ability to observe and read people.

Though he didn't see her purpose immediately, he could certainly think of a few good reasons as to why the Headmaster may want her there. She was a Slytherin after all, and if Harry's disappearance - that was all he knew so far - had something to do with a Slytherin, who better to speak with than another dungeon-dweller?

That would also explain the presence of Draco Malfoy, though Remus found it curious that the boy had said he was 'there for his cousin', which would refute his entire theory.

Remus sighed loudly and continued searching through the small sea of people for the Headmaster. It took a moment, but Remus realized that at some point, the old wizard had snuck out of the room and was no where to be found.

Stifling what would have been a small growl, Remus got to his feet swiftly and let out a booming BANG! with his wand. Once he had the attention of the entire room, he said, "I believe it would be best if we all took our seats and stopped this childish behavior."

With a bit of grumbling, everyone moved to sit down. Draco, however, moved to go speak with his cousin who oddly still had her eyes closed. Remus watched with fascination as Draco reached to within about a foot of the girl, but was suddenly pushed back by some type of force field.

The boy began to call her name gently at first, but then louder, as it appeared that she couldn't hear anything inside her invisible bubble.

Just when Draco began to reach for his wand, the door to the office slammed open and in strolled Professor Dumbledore, followed by a sour looking Severus Snape.

Dumbledore seemed a bit surprised to see everyone seated and fairly quiet, but immediately he turned to Remus and gave him a proud sort of smile.

'How does that man know everything?' Remus wondered idly, 'Yes, Legilimecy is part of it, but there has to be more than that.'

But that mystery would remain so for another day as Remus was distracted by

Dumbledore saying, "Mr. Malfoy, I assure you that your cousin is perfectly all right, but please, stand back a moment." Draco glared a bit at the Headmaster, but obeyed silently.

The entire group watched as Dumbledore took out his wand and waved it in a circular motion over the top of the girl's head. A faint green light seemed to shine in a spherical form around her before it dissipated in a series of fizzling sounds.

The young witch just released from the bubble appeared to awake instantly and the room watched with curious fascination as she sat up straight and with her eyes still closed, ran her hand through her long locks.

Her slender hand seemed to pause halfway down and only a few in the room knew it was because her usually curly hair was straight. Her brown eyes flew open and she seemed alarmed at the number of people who had entered the room while she had slept. Her eyes finally settled on the Headmaster, who smiled gently at her in a way that seemed to say 'Let me handle this.'

"This young witch," Dumbledore began, "as I am sure many of you are wondering, is here tonight as our main source of information on Harry's condition this evening."

The assembled witches and wizards seemed to simultaneously hold their breath.

"May I introduce," Professor Dumbledore continued unaffectedly, "Miss Blaise Zabini, a proud student of the Slytherin House..."

A few eyes widened in surprise at her house, but no one could predict the reaction that would come when the Headmaster finished his statement.

"...and the girlfriend of seven months to our very own Mr. Potter."

Pandemonium did not even begin to describe it.

End Chapter 1



Author's Notes: Please don't forget to let me know what you think. Reviews are so very nice and I really appreciate them. There will be more plot development in the next chapter, and never fear, in time you will get some idea of what happened to Harry. Thanks for reading. Please Review!