Title: The Silent Spectre

Summary: The days after his all too close confrontation with the entire school.

Disclaimer: NOT MINE! Jeesh.

Note: Sorry for the delay, but I went away for a week and a half, and I also had school finals, and just a buildup of other stuff. Also, I got a flame! Cats7…a pitiful 13-year-old boy (no offence to 13-year-old boys) who is obsessed with knives and the 'f' word. He didn't even tell me why he disliked it…he only told me it was bullshit. I laughed…I'm still laughing. Anyways, I went to his profile to see if he had a story…bam, he did, and it really deserved a flame. Who am I to ignore the opportunity for revenge? I'm a Slytherin at heart. I mean, really, how can someone be so pathetic? He flamed me back again…and threatened to kill me if he ever got his hands on me…pretty empty threat, if you ask me. I blocked him…he was cluttering up my review space.


It took days before Harry was brave enough to venture out of Slytherin's secret passages, and he survived those three days on just the one sandwich he had, which he ate the next day so it didn't go bad. He lost more weight he that could ill afford to lose, and became even more hauntingly pale, his face thin, gaunt, and stark white.

It was illness and lack of food that forced him from his haven…illness that came from the haven itself. Harry wasn't sure what it was, but a dark and horrible feeling oozed from the very stones of the castle, spread throughout the underground maze. It originated from the obsidian room with the stark white light, where the mosaic depicting Hogwart's rise and fall was. It was like a leeching feeling…black and ominous and preying on his senses and his mind. He felt like he was going insane, and he had to get out. So he waited until the middle of the night before sneaking out again, and rushing down to the anti-chamber off the great hall, sliding down the slide. He stopped himself before he slid right out into the cold-room, and quietly peered through the hole.

There were no house elves, so he wriggled out and stood up in the icy cold room, shivering, before darting up the steps and peering out into the kitchen. Scanning with his eyes, he spotted a thawing package of ham and a block of cheese. He darted to the basin and quietly washed his hands, listening for house-elves, and then slid a pair of cleaning gloves on that he found beneath the basin before throwing together three sandwiches and wrapping up one of them.

He ate the others quickly before slithering up the chute and coming out again in the anti-chamber and into the Great Hall, careful to make no noise and listening for the sounds of anyone awake. He was being doubly careful, now, for he could not be caught. He felt his guts heave with the thought of a time paradox, where he did something so strange as to get a mention twenty-years into the future. His instincts screamed at him that something bad would happen, a mere sighting where he shouldn't be, being spotted by the wrong person could set off a chain of events so powerful as to change the line of time.

Pettigrew was here, as well as who knows how many other Death Eaters in training…and all would most likely report to their Master off a boy covered in blood that 'haunted' Hogwarts while still living. A boy with a scar on his forehead…

It might have been a Death Eater who sent him here, for all he knew. That meant that Death Eaters know who he was in the future…perhaps even remembered him from their past. Maybe someone else was here, watching him…maybe he died here, and that's the reason they sent him, because they remembered it…

'Stop it.' Harry thought, shaking his head hard. He clenched his eyes closed and held his head in his hands trying to push that thought away. He would get home…he had to.

Taking a deep breath, he scrambled up the Grand Staircase towards the Library, hoping against hope that he would be able to look for a counter to the curse that plagued him. Ne navigated the open halls quickly and quietly, making his way through beams of moonlight that sliced through the dark shadows like glowing silver knives.

He was almost lulled into a sense of security…a false sense, as it happened, for as he flitted through a wide beam of light across the landing of a narrow staircase, the moonlight lit upon his pale face and the blackish blood staining his clothes, causing his appearance to take on that of a painfully thin wraith moving silently across a Hufflepuff couple's line of vision.

The girl screamed like she was being murdered, causing Harry to snap his head up and around, lighting overlarge, haunting green eyes on the pair, before he turned and fled silently away. The girl continued screaming, waking the nearest Professors. Soon, almost the entire school was awake.

-----

'What am I going to do?' Harry thought in despair. 'I cannot…I cannot change the timeline…who knows what is at stake. I must find a way home, I must, I must, I must.'

There was a lump in his throat, constricting his breathing, and his eyes burned with restrained tears. He couldn't hold them back, and soon he was silently crying, on his knees in anguish in the one place he couldn't stand to stay in Hogwarts castle.

-----

"What're we going to do, Albus?" Dominick asked in frustration. The handsome, dark haired man was pacing a trench in Dumbledore's floor.

"We must catch him." Dumbledore said sadly. "It has gone beyond simply wishing to help an injured boy, but he is making the school fearful, even if he does not mean to. I'm afraid we will need to set a trap for him."

"Right, how should we do such a thing?"

As it turned out, they needn't try to trap him…someone else did it for them, just two nights later.

-----

Stumbling wearily towards the Great Hall for yet another trip to the kitchens, Harry was emotionally and physically tired and simply wanting to go home, and was caught quite unawares by the trap. He caught a brief glimpse of entirely too familiar reddish hair…the hair of his captor. It was Adenlin Rolingat, he saw, feeling his heart start to pound. He had no chance to defend himself, however, and everything went black.

When he woke he was disoriented from lack of food and lack of blood, so it took a moment to register where he was. It was dark, for the moon was behind clouds, and there was no floor beneath his feet. He was hanging, he realized, hanging by his wrists from the arching beams that crossed the Great Hall's ceiling, beams colored cloudy and dull, reflecting the night sky. He tilted his head to look down, astonished to see the floor so far away, seeing, in the dull, gloomy light, drops of red-black blood falling silently through the darkness.

He struggled for ages it felt like, desperately trying to pull his wrists from the leather straps that tied them to the wooden crossbeam, but he couldn't break the straps, nor could he get his wand. Nor, he realized with a sinking dismay, could he get his blood pellets.

-----

James Potter woke that morning with his usual cheerful enthusiasm, ready to start the day. Optimistic to a fault, James Potter regarded each day as twenty-four hours of solid playtime…or prank time, as Sirius called it.

Both James and Sirius were early risers, so most of the time they simply let Remus and Peter, who were both extremely heavy sleepers, have an extra half-an-hour before breakfast while they went down to the Great Hall on their own. This morning was no different, two dark haired boys jumping down the stairs two at a time in the cool morning hours before the majority of the Hogwarts students were awake.

They flopped down at the nearly empty Gryffindor table and began to snatch at a plate full of pancakes, talking in low voices about the next prank they were to play. They glanced up when another person sat down at their table, and James got a strange expression on his face, a mix between longing and consternation.

It was Lily Evans, the one girl in the entire school that James and set his attentions on and had been rejected. Miss beauty herself.

"Hi, Evans." Sirius said, giving her a broad grin.

"Black." She replied flatly, and ignored him. The boys did the same, returning to their previous conversation before another disturbance distracted him. Severus Snape, another early riser, strode in from the dungeons with several books in his arms and his bag bulging with even more.

Slowly, the hall began to fill as students from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw began to filter in, and there was yet another disturbance, this time from the Ravenclaw table…in the form of a scream.

Sirius glanced up at the other table to see a hysterical girl with tears flowing down her face, pointing…up.

Slowly, feeling dread in their blood, the rest of the hall tilted their heads back and stared up at the emaciated, wraith-like body that hung from the ceiling, over a small stain of blood between the Hufflepuff and Gryffindor tables.

At first, James thought the boy was dead, that he'd been suicidal and had hung himself. Then James saw that the boy was not hanging from his neck, which was flopped forward and limp like the rest of the body, but from his hands. With a curse, he jumped up and whipped out his wand, screaming at the flabbergasted Professors to fetch Headmaster Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey, while he closed his eyes and concentrated on summoning his broomstick. (Note: I know, I know, kind of cliché, but what can I say?) It took a moment, in which Dumbledore appeared a whirl of baby blue robes, moving faster than a man his age had any right to move, before his broomstick came rushing towards him from the doors.

He grabbed it and swung aboard, just realizing that Sirius had had the same idea and was mounting his own broom just behind him, and kicked off the ground.

"Tell me what he looks like, James." Dumbledore said from the ground, wand drawn but still. James nodded, and both boys soared up towards the ceiling.

"He's conscious, Professor." Sirius exclaimed, and James was surprised to see that it was true. The boy's dull green eyes looked out of his wasted, white face, though they were rather blank and incomprehensive.

"He's not lucid, though." James said, examining the boy's eyes. They followed his movement but no understanding showed. James fought a shiver. Those eyes were disconcerting.

"Cut him down…carefully." Dumbledore said calmly, just as Professor Dominick rushed up from the dungeons. James nodded and maneuvered himself to the boy, reaching out to wrap his arm around the boy's ribs.

It was a mistake…while the boy might not have been able to comprehend much, he surely comprehended the fact that he didn't want to be touched, and the bloodloss was evidently not serious enough to hamper movement, if the boy's thrash and powerful kick was anything to go by. James rolled on his broom, winded.

"Oi!" Sirius yelled, reaching out to grab the boy's arms. The boy twisted violently in his bonds, and attempted to thrash free of his them, making blood trickle down his arms from the wounds on his wrists where the bonds had rubbed the skin away. He kicked again, making Sirius dodge, and they paused, confused.

"Let me do it." A voice from below said. James looked down in astonishment…generally, what he could not do, no one could. He was even more astonished to see that it was Snape…slimy, scrawny Severus Snape, who had voiced the question.

"You?" Sirius exclaimed incredulously. "Why you?"

"He came to me, that first night, if you remember." Snape said waspishly. "Perhaps I look familiar to him, and he might let me get him down." James looked at the Headmaster with wide eyes.

"The idea had merit." Dumbledore said absently, staring up at the boy who once more hung limp and still. "James, would you mind lending Severus your broomstick?"

"But Professor…" James started, but quieted when the Headmaster's blue eyes fastened on him, absent of any twinkle. He skimmed down to the ground and dismounted grudgingly, thrusting the broom at the other boy with a scowl. Sirius followed him down, obviously not inclined to help Snape.

Severus didn't seem to expect it, however, and simply mounted and pushed up from the ground to fly up and hover quietly next to the boy. The boy thrashed again, and Snape avoided him, coming closer again when the boy stilled. This time, he only jerked convulsively, and lifted his head weakly. Snape was murmuring something to him, jerking his head towards the bonds in a reassuring way.

A moment later, to James shock, he floated up and grasped the boy around the middle, supporting him with one hand while he raised his wand and severed the straps. The boy slumped, limp and quiet, into Snape's arms. He was still as he was flown back down to the floor, and didn't move even as he was laid out on a stretcher. He seemed resigned for some reason, James thought as he watched. The Headmaster, to James's consternation, put his hand on Snape's shoulder and led him away, following the Matron and the floating stretcher.


Coming Soon(Er, Sooner, at least): Harry's finally caught...what happens now? What happens to the timeline, the one he swore not to interfere with? Has he changed the flow of the future, or simply become a part of it? All these (some of them, at least) will be answered in Chapter Six: The Confrontation!