Author's Note: It's been about six months since my last chapter update. Previously, this story went on an eleven month hiatus before I picked it back up again. That was due to my loss in interest and other, similar causes. This… this was not because of any of that.
Since I have last posted a chapter, I have started a new term of school, and finished it. I have somehow scraped together enough money to pay for my tuition by borrowing from friends, only to fall behind upon completing my latest term, now some $1900 in debt. I have had to run up my only credit card in order to pay for my essentials, because I have had three jobs in the last six months, ranging from a television salesman, to a pressman.
My girlfriend of over two years, the only woman I have ever truly loved, ended our relationship, and though I still love her dearly, our relationship is now… less than perfect. My sister has got married and should be having my nephew in mid March, after which her and my brother-in-law will be moving across the country.
And if this wasn't enough, I now need to move out and produce $1000 in move-in fees for my new place within about four weeks.
So as you can see… writing has not been at the top of my list. But writing has always been one of my favorite activities, and so one night in February I opened my copy of Chapter 10, opened a bottle of Guinness, and plowed through the rest of the chapter.
The good news is that I now have a higher paying job which I can stick with, and a housing arrangement that I can stick with. So I should be able to write consistently again. I wouldn't expect more than one chapter every other week, but still, better than nothing right?
The next few weeks were a blur for Harry. Between his N.E.W.T. level classes and chasing down every reference to vision in the library, Harry's days passed quickly and without pause. Despite finding out a lot about ways to magically cope with poor vision, nothing in their search had turned up anything Professor Felicis might have been interested in.
Ron was even worse off than Harry, or so he thought. While Harry did have Potions, which Ron did not, Ron had to deal with both Prefect Duties and Quidditch Captain duties. The teams tryouts had gone alright, with much of Gryffindor turning out for the event. Despite the enthusiastic response, Harry and Ron were a bit dismayed to discover that very few people had any real skill, particularly in the spot of Beater. Ron still hadn't decided who to draft, even though the time for practices was soon approaching.
Harry meanwhile, was beginning to think Hermione had been rubbing off on him. Perhaps it was the extra class they had together, or the satisfaction he had felt during the summer when his homework had been completed early, but he felt the need to do his homework stronger than he had previous years. No small part of this was the peculiar fact that Harry seemed to remember his studies better when he did his homework with her. It's not as if she helped him any more than she ever had, it was just that Harry always seemed to be able to recall what he had studied when Hermione was around. Now that he thought about it, he seemed to be keen on playing a game of chess when he was with Ron, and being near Luna gave him sudden urges to talk about Crumple-Horned Snorknacks. The whimsical thought brought a faint smile to Harry's face before he returned to his work.
He considered a particularly nasty Potions problem, furrowing his brow. What did a bat wing do in common alertness potions? He tried to think back to the lesson, but all he could manage was the immense displeasure he'd felt for Snape and Malfoy. Harry sighed. He glanced up at Hermione, doing her Potions assignment as well. Harry found that it helped him study if they were working on the same assignment at the same time.
Oh yeah, it keeps the potion from preventing sleep. Harry turned back to his parchment and began writing out his answer.
"I think we're looking at this the wrong way," Hermione said from across the table. Harry glanced up again, seeing that she was looking directly at him. "This whole vision thing... what if he didn't literally mean your glasses?" Harry shook his head. This was the third time they'd had this conversation in the last week.
"No, remember?" Harry watched as an annoyed look washed over her face. "He specifically said something about my glasses." Harry focused his eyes on the rims for a moment, causing him to almost immediately become dizzy.
"Well, maybe it's just a metaphor," Hermione offered hopefully. "We've looked up everything on bad vision in the library and all we've turned up is a lot of hexes and charms to either fix or cause the condition."
"Well then perhaps it can't be found in the library," Harry said matter-of-factly. Hermione looked affronted at the very suggestion.
"I don't think we should just stop looking!" She looked down at her parchment for a moment. "Well, this may be an obvious question, really, but I suppose I should ask. Has your vision changed at all recently?"
"Hermione," Harry replied annoyed. "I think I would have told you that." She shook her head.
"Yes, of course, but I had to be sure." They both were silent for a moment, before Hermione looked back up at him. "What could possibly be significant about your visi– wait, of course!" Hermione stood abruptly, heading towards the portrait.
"Where are you going?" Harry called out to her retreating form.
"The library," she called out over her shoulder before disappearing through the entrance. Harry looked back at his potions homework with a sigh. There was no use in doing the homework by himself, he just never seemed to be able to do it while sitting on his own anymore. He began to pack his things into his book bag when Ron stumbled through the portrait hole, looking thoroughly disheveled.
"Where was Hermione off to?" Ron asked tiredly. Harry looked his friend up and down before replying.
"Library... no clue why." Harry stopped for a moment. "You look terrible Ron." The red haired boy drooped his head and grunted.
"This is killing me, mate. I think I'm going to have to ask McGonagall to let me give it up." Harry looked at Ron alarmed.
"You're going to give up being team captain?" Ron jerked his head up at Harry and looked at him as if Harry'd grown a second head.
"Of course not! I meant being a Prefect." Ron's expression suddenly change into one of worry. "You, uh... won't tell Hermione, right?" Harry smiled.
"Course not." Harry gave Ron a significant look. "But you know that she'll notice when you don't show up for any of the Prefect meetings or duties." Ron sighed.
"Yeah, never get a moment do I?" He let out a chuckle. The pair decided that another good game of chess was exactly what the evening called for, and Harry grabbed the set from their dorm room as he stowed his books.
"So what do you reckon Hermione was on about earlier?" Ron asked Harry as they set the pieces up. Harry glanced at the portrait hole and pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose.
"I'm not sure. She'd been talking about the whole vision thing, then just jumped up and declared she was off." Harry turned to the board making his opening move, and glanced up at Ron. "You don't suppose she's figured it out, do you?" Ron quickly moved his piece forward, sitting back as if to ponder the question.
"I suppose she could have… course knowing Hermione she'll be bursting to tell us once she knows for sure." Harry quickly moved his piece to block Ron's, not giving much thought to the game.
"I'm beginning to think that perhaps the whole thing means nothing." Ron nodded in agreement as he took his turn. "I mean, sure it was a bit odd of Professor Felicis to ask, but since when is an odd Hogwarts teacher something… well, odd I suppose." Harry looked down at the board again and moved his knight around.
"I bet he's having a good laugh about it right now," Ron concluded, moving his piece in the process. "I bet the question meant bugger all and he knew that the three of us would spend so much time trying to figure it out." Ron rolled his eyes. "He at least could have picked something a little less vague." Harry nodded in agreement, taking his move and looking up at the ceiling for a moment.
"I've had something else on my mind as well," Harry voiced carefully, looking around the common room quickly. "Perhaps Neville was on to something with the whole Dumbledore's Army thing." Harry stopped for a moment to watch Ron's reaction, but Ron merely glanced up at Harry for a moment before looking turning back to the board and taking his turn. "I don't think that Professor Felicis is teaching us enough… well, rather I don't want to waste any time."
"I'm not so sure Harry." Ron sighed and gave his friend an apologetic look. "I mean, I know that Defense is really important, especially after… well, you know." Ron cleared his throat before continuing. "But… to be perfectly honest, I have enough on my plate as it is. I mean, studies for N.E.W.T. level classes are brutal, and what with the team and all…" Ron trailed off, leaving the rest unsaid.
"I know what you mean Ron, it's just…" Harry looked over to the table that the three had used for their study sessions for the last five years. He never really enjoyed studying or doing homework, and yet that corner seemed special to him somehow. It was the same kind of perverse special that he felt about Dumbledore's Army. "I feel like it's something I have to do… or maybe even something I want to do."
"What do you mean?" Ron asked moving his pieces absentmindedly. Harry considered the board for a moment before responding.
"I don't know exactly… this whole 'Chosen One' business that the papers have been talking about. I feel like it's not me, like it's everyone." Harry and Ron traded a few moves in silence. "He's out there," Harry said simply. Ron looked up, a serious expression on his face. "He's out there, and I'm doing nothing. I don't want to be doing nothing, Ron. I want to be doing something." Ron couldn't really argue with that logic. In a way Ron felt the same.
"Well… maybe we should start it up again then," Ron offered. They traded a few more moves.
"I think I'm going to." Harry looked up at Ron and shared a significant look with his friend. Harry still hadn't told either of them about the prophecy, and a brand new wave of guilt swept over him at the thought. He was going to have to sometime… Dumbledore proved that holding back information like this did more harm than good.
Ron seemed to be wrapped up thought as well, and perhaps that's why Harry did a double take when he finally took a serious look at the board in front of him. Could… no, he couldn't have missed that, could he? Harry glanced up at Ron and saw that he had a faraway look on his face.
Looking back at the board Harry hesitantly moved his rook.
"Erm… Check… mate?" Ron looked down at the board and did a double-take. He checked his moves.
"Uh… yeah…" Ron shook his head. "Wow, I must really be out of it. Good job mate." Harry gave Ron a patronizing look.
"Gee, thanks." Harry was about to add that perhaps he had simply gotten better at the game when he spotted Hermione walking purposefully towards their seats.
"I think I know what Professor Felicis was referring to," Hermione told the two, a thick tome in her hand. Harry and Ron gave her their rapt attention as she set the book down on the table. Hermione glanced around before continuing to ensure that no one was close enough to hear them.
"I think we were approaching the whole thing wrong," Hermione began, opening the book to find a page. "This whole time we've been looking for ways to make vision better or worse, but then I remembered something I'd read once about wizarding traits." Hermione stopped having found the page she had been looking for. Harry and Ron leaned in to see what she had found.
Harry studied the illustration which showed several different kinds of eyes. On the page across from the illustrations a title read "Eyes as a Visual Marker For Inherited Traits". Harry wasn't sure that he understood what Hermione was getting at.
"You think that it's about something I inherited?" Harry queried. He didn't see what was so special about what she'd found.
"Not just something," Hermione said patiently, "something special. I'm not talking about inheriting a big nose, not that I think you have a large nose Harry," she added hastily. "I'm talking about inheriting a magical ability or quality."
"Well then what do you think it is?" Harry asked, even more puzzled. "I don't think that I have any special magical ability."
"Yeah," Ron chimed in. "I mean it's not as if Harry here can fly without a broom or something." Harry broke into a grin at the image; Ron's mind was always on the field since he'd gotten the captaincy.
"I don't know what it is, but there are several qualities which usually are marked by eyes," Hermione explained. "Natural power at Legilemency and being a Seer, a real one mind you, are usually marked somehow in the eyes. A truly skilled legilemens for instance usually has eyes that are darker or different color." Harry suddenly jerked forward.
"Voldemort!" Ron fell backwards in his chair, having been in the middle of balancing it when Harry blurted out the Dark Lord's name. "Sorry Ron… didn't mean to startle you…" Harry turned back to the book and Hermione as Ron picked himself up grumbling. "Voldemort has red eyes that look like those of a snake, and he's a very powerful legilemens!" Hermione beamed at him.
"Excellent Harry! Now you get it!" Harry paused for a moment however, seeming to have just realized something.
"I don't have red eyes though… so I can't be a natural legilemens." Hermione shook he head.
"It doesn't work like that.," Hermione stated. "Eyes are simply the marker that something is inherited usually. What different colors or features mean varied depending on what family line they were inherited from." Hermione flipped through the pages to a table which listed qualities that were uncommon in eyes. Harry looked it over, but felt that none of them applied to him. He had, in his opinion, very normal eyes.
"There's nothing here about me," Harry pointed out. Hermione again smiled, indicating she knew something.
"Not if you look at a single feature… but if you look at several together… Harry, Professor Felicis asked about needing glasses, right? So we know bad vision is one of the indicators." Harry nodded.
"If it's something inherited that is," Ron pointed out. "We still don't know if you're right. This could be just another dead end lead."
"It's the best we've got!" Hermione snapped at him. "We've been looking for a long time, and have turned up nothing! We should at least check to see if anything makes sense!"
"That's what I'm saying," Ron replied annoyed. "It doesn't make sense! We haven't ever seen any special quality in Harry like you're talking about, unless you think he plays Seeker well 'cause he wears glasses!"
"What about green eyes?" Harry asked suddenly, cutting off Hermione's retort. "People always tell me that my eyes are so green, and I know that my mother had them." Harry looked over at Hermione. "Could green eyes be another clue?" Hermione seemed to ponder it for a moment.
"Green eyes and bad vision… maybe…" She looked thoughtful for a moment. "We'll have to check in to it, but that may be it." She smiled at the two, clearly pleased with herself. "The point is that now we have somewhere to start!"
Over the next week the trio worked feverishly to find any known bloodlines that had magical traits linked to green eyes and bad vision to no avail. Harry was beginning to wonder if perhaps the whole thing was a big run around. Here they were, Saturday evening, sitting in the common room with dozens of books spread out over their table.
Everything they could carry from the library on magical traits linked to eyes had been carted back to the table and perused voraciously. Every so often one of them would stop and add some text to their Potions essay or their Transfiguration report.
The effort was monumental, and their school work had not gotten any easier, particularly for Harry and Hermione who still had to deal with Snape in Potions. The evening was made even terser by Ron's recent request to Professor McGonagall that he be removed as a Prefect. The small revelation had put Hermione in a sour mood, and every time she caught Ron's eye she gave him an icy glare to reprimand him for his priorities, while Ron, for his part, scoffed and huffed to make sure she knew he felt affronted by her judgment.
This was driving Harry a bit up the wall however, and after a particularly dramatic sigh from Hermione, he stood swiftly muttering something about getting a new quill from his trunk and stomped off to the sixth year boy's dorm room.
Upon reaching his trunk however, Harry felt a sudden urge to simply get away, and grabbing his invisibility cloak, left the room silently. He passed by Ron and Hermione at the table, who were making purposeful efforts at not talking to one another, and pushed out of the portrait-hole unnoticed.
Not quite sure where he was headed, Harry simply strolled the halls, following his feet. Dumbledore had once said that Harry surely knew what it must feel like to have too many thoughts, and he'd just nodded and smiled, completely oblivious to the sensation. Now though, Harry felt he understood what the old wizard had been talking about quite well.
There were dozens of fragmented thoughts traversing his mind at any given moment, and many were unrelated. The research they had been busy with was a prominent concern, but so were his studies and homework. Sirius also was always on his thoughts, and lately Harry had found himself very curious as to what was in each of the letter. Particularly the one addressed to his Aunt.
What in the world could Sirius have wanted to say to Aunt Petunia? And why?
But thoughts of Sirius, in any capacity, always conjured worries and gloom about the prophecy that he still had not shared with anyone. He didn't know why it was so difficult, but it just didn't seem the sort of thing you casually dropped in conversation. "Ron, could you pass the butter? Oh yeah, and the prophecy that we broke condemned me to either kill or be killed. Oh! And the salt as well!" Certainly not.
Yet despite all of this, his eyes were the thing he was most concerned with at the moment. In fact, he was so concerned with them that they hardly paid any attention to where he was, and by the time he stopped to take stock of his surroundings, he found himself on the first floor not too far from the Dark Arts classroom.
A moment's inspiration found Harry staring at the doorway to the classroom tentatively. He felt a strong compulsion to throw the door open and see if he could pick up any information from the average-looking Professor. The thought was dashed from his mind however when he heard someone behind the door approaching.
Forgetting for a second that he was under an invisibility cloak, Harry dashed off to put some space between him and the door before turning to watch the man emerge. Professor Felicis came out with his wand gripped in his hand, hanging limply at his side. He turned to walk down the corridor right in Harry's direction, and Harry pressed himself against the wall, trying to make space for the man to walk by. Please don't notice me, Harry pleaded in his head.
But just as the hopeful thought passed through his mind, Professor Felicis stopped and started looking around. Harry, fearful of being caught out after curfew, held his breath. The man glanced around the corridor, and as his eyes landed on the spot where Harry stood; he stopped, staring intently, his eyes intense in their scrutiny. He can't see through my cloak, can he? Harry simply waited and pleaded silently for the man to continue on.
An odd sort of smile spread over the Professor's face before he turned and continued down the corridor. Deciding he'd had enough exercise for the night, he quickly made his way back to the Gryffindor common room, finding it empty. The table they'd been using was likewise empty, the books most likely with Hermione in her dorm.
Harry pulled off the cloak and sat down in front of the low burning embers, letting a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding go. How had the Professor known something was there? Did he know about the cloak? Did he know that it had been him?
The only creature that had ever stared directly at Harry underneath his cloak was Mrs. Norris, Filch's cat. Personally, he felt it was quite more unnerving when it was a person staring at you. After a few minutes however, Harry decided that it must have been coincidence. There's no way that a regular wizard could have known he was there.
Harry felt a soft pressure at his feet and looked down to see Crookshanks rubbing up against his legs. Ever since delivering Sirius' message, the half-Kneazle had been somewhat affectionate toward him. Harry grinned and reached down, rubbing between the orange creature's ears. It purred until Harry stopped, and looked up at him before jumping up on his lap.
Harry, startled for a moment, laughed at him heartily.
"I just can't get rid of you now, can I?" Harry smiled as he began absently stroking Crookshanks again, looking back at the fireplace. The logs were glowing, and he could feel the heat coming off them in waves. Taking his glance back toward Crookshanks, he noted curiously that the half-Kneazle was staring right at him.
Suddenly Harry's vision was filled with a picture of a green field and a laughing couple. One had long, red hair and shocking green eyes, while the other sported black hair that appeared wind-swept, both laughing richly.
"Lily, why don't you invite your sister over? I'd hate for you to upset her." The woman's smile changed to an almost sad grin.
"I'm not sure she'll come… she was always a bit jealous." Her face suddenly brightened, as if recalling something splendid. "But I don't suppose it would hurt to try."
Harry blinked and found himself staring at an orange cat once more. What had just happened? Had he fallen asleep? He'd just been sitting here, staring at the fire and for no apparent reason his vision had changed. Harry's eyes widened. Wait a minute, his vision had changed!