Disclaimer: JK Rowling and a few other people own everything, I don't.
Of Loyalty and Traitors
Trust and Suspicion
Rubeus Hagrid took a step backwards to take in the full extent of his handywork. After adding the last finishing touches to his cabin, he was forced to admit that it wasn't quite up to the standard of his previous home. He made a rather clumsy builder, in all truth.
But it would do.
Wiping a hand over his sweaty brow, he lowered himself to the ground and surveyed the grounds. The lake was reflecting the last rays of the evening sun and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry stood majestically nearby.
His eyes then drifted warily to the border of the Forbidden Forest.
The forest lay enveloped in silence, with not even the rustle of leaves in a non-existent breeze. It wouldn't have seemed very threatening to one who didn't know the dangers the forest held. It wouldn't have usually seemed threatening to a half-giant who had been know to befriend the 'monsters' it held.
Yet Rubeus eyed it with uncertainly.
He had an appointment amidst the dark, looming trees. Near the very back of the forest, further than the wards that protected Hogwarts extended to. Back where the trees were the eldest and most gnarled.
It wasn't his first meeting there.
Yet the doubt that had crept into his mind during each meeting lingered still, to the point where he almost felt it may be better not to return. That it may be safer to stay right where he was.
He cast another look up at the school, towering above him. No one was inside the building. To the best of his knowledge, Minerva was still at Grimmauld Place. A subdued feeling of guilt drifted over him, which made way for the intense lonliness that had haunted him since the Headmaster's death.
Rubeus climbed to his feet and, having resolved to give the appointment a miss, reached forward to open the roughly created door to his cabin.
The moment his hand made contact with the door, distant sounding music drifted into his ears, breaking through the silence. Rubeus slowing pulled his hand back as he turned around, stunned, searching for the source of the music.
He had heard it before.
His eyes searched the skies for a familiar phoenix.
A phoenix by the name of Fawkes, to be exact, who had disappeared in the time following Albus Dumbledore's phoenix.
The pheonix song continued to sound as Rubeus unsuccessfully attempted to find the source. And as the duration of the music ceased, Rubeus still hadn't located Fawkes. Disappointed at the loss of what had felt like a connection to his former mentor, he dabbed at his eyes with his oversized handkerchief before blowing his nose loudly. Then, for a second time, he reached out his hand to open the cabin door.
Once more he removed it.
Realisation had dawned on him and he turned back towards the dark, interweaving mass of forestation.
And when he cast one last hopeful look up at the sky, he could swear he glimpsed a bright creature disappear from view.
"If yeh really think it's for the best, Professer."
With that, he marched determinedly into the darkness.
Meanwhile, the castle which rose high above the tallest tree was no longer as empty as it had been mere minutes ago.
Having just arrived back at the school, Minerva looked out of her office window in time to glimpse Rubeus enter the forest, illuminated in the last fading beams of sunlight. A look of curiousity drifted over the women's lined features as the logical reasoning that Hagrid often spent time in the forest was joined by speculation.
As the shadowed figure of Albus Dumbledore bent downwards, seemingly placing the indistinct object he was holding down outside a door, Draco further analysed his own situation.
He found himself looking back down at the time-turner, thoughtlessly rolling it around in the palm of his hand.
The Dark Lord would be looking for further confirmation of the boy's loyalty sooner or later. Most likely sooner rather than later. And here he was, stuck in the past and following the life of Dumbledore, the only one the Dark Lord was said to fear. Draco found that he actually agreed in the light side's belief that the greatest dark wizard of the time had harboured some amount of fear of the former headmaster. Dumbledore had been at one stage powerful, with a broad extent of knowledge, experience and a fair few secrets as well.
Secrets the Draco was in a very good position to discover.
If he then passed anything useful back to the Dark Lord, surely he would never again be suspected of betraying him? Even as Draco thought this, he had to shove disagreeing thoughts out of his head.
Before he had time to assure himself that he was doing the best thing for his mother and him, one finger knocked a little too forcefully against the small hourglass.
Draco realised the consequence of this careless action as his feet were once more jolted up from the grounds and disorientating clashes of colour flew past his eyes. He promptly squeezed his eyes shut as a feeling of nausea immediately washed over him.
Then, as he had experienced the first time, a force threw him down upon solid ground and he lay there absorbing the pain as he waited anxiously for his vision to clear.
He had an unpleasant feeling that this round had taken even more energy from him than the first.
This wasn't helped by his own knowledge of the often lethal cases that could result from playing around with mysterious objects purchased at places such as Borgin and Burkes.
Slowly his surroundings were now beginning to develop distinct forms.
Underneath his hands, he could feel carpet. Carpet was more a muggle associated thing. The mansion that Draco called 'home' had no carpet, but the polished stone floors, a symbol of grandeur seen in places inhabited by purebood families such as his own.
The muggle-loving Weasleys' pathetic excuse of a home probably had carpet. Very, very tatty and torn carpet.
It was really quite sad, Draco noted.
He was then rather surprised at having harboured such a...a Hufflepuff thought. He'd have to make sure never to feel empathy towards such a family again.
One thing often could lead to another, much much worse thing.
First feelings of sympathy, next he could find himself running around hugging muggles.
He shuddered at the very thought. It would most certainly not be a good thing for a training Death Eater, bringer of evil and misfurtune, to be seen doing.
On the topic of muggles, the house that he now found himself lying on the floor of seemed likely to be owned by one. The photos placed above the fireplace weren't moving. There was a large square object with a blackened screen that Draco assumed must be one of those Tele Vision things that he hard heard talk of, sitting upon a small nearby table.
In fact, nothing that he could see looked remotely magical.
No one was around, which was lucky as Draco hadn't yet taken the initiative of hiding himself from view. As a precaution, he quickly ducked down into the enclosed space behind the couch; it would have to do for now.
Dumbledore was surely around here somewhere. Wasn't that how the time-turner thing was supposed to work?
Yet he did find it rather strange that the old wizard would spend such a great portion of time amongst muggle dwellings. The man was obviously less sane than Draco thought he was. Not that he would have ever bet many galleons on the old man's sanity.
Harry Potter lay in his bed, once more finding himself quite unable to sleep. He felt as though all the events in his past were finally catching up with him, threatening to overtake him unless he did something to stop it.
First his parents had been killed.
Next Cedric had been killed, for which Harry still felt the occasional lingering guilt.
Then his godfather, Sirius, who he had cared for immensely, had been killed. Harry still felt frequent pain and guilt over this.
Professor Dumbledore had followed, less than a year after Sirius. Harry's mentor, and now that he had thought about it, a man who had in many ways been a distant grandfather towards him.
Would Remus be the next, in this endless trail of deaths? The last person similar to a father-figure in Harry's life, would be become the next victim?
He dreaded the answer. And just when the tired man had found happiness in his dreary world...with Nymphadora Tonks, what would happen to her if Remus died?
An intense feeling of restlessness that had been growing inside of him since Dumbledore'd death was now exceptionally strong. He knew he couldn't risk confontation with Voldemort until the horcruxes were accounted for and destroyed, but he felt that they were making too little progress. There were still three horcruxes to go, not counting the dark wizard himself.
And he still wasn't sure what they were, let alone how to find them.
Still, it wasn't although they were getting nowhere...his mind drifted back to a conversation he had had with Hermione and Ron the previous day...
"Well, I think I have discovered a bit more about the object used for one of the last horcruxes..." Hermione said, her cheeks flushed. It seemed likely that she had been waiting some time for an appropriate opportunity to tell them.
"And?" Ron prompted, grinning expectantly.
Good news seemed rare and precious as of late.
Harry, whose mind at the time was still on Lupin and his whereabouts, didn't respond, but looked up to show he was listening.
"I actually found quite a few books concerning the founders of Hogwarts. One of them stated that Godric Gryffindor, since he had no heirs, had charmed all of his possessions to evaporate as he drew his last breath. The only exception that I could find to this was his sword and the chance of that being a horcrux seems non-existant..."
"Yeah, Dumbledore didn't think it could be." Harry added in.
"Yes," Hermione continued, nodding, "so I think we can pretty well eliminate an item of Gryffindor's from the list. Rowena Ravenclaw, however, seems a good deal more promising. I have read more than one book mentioning her tendency to invent enchantments and spells. She would place them on objects and then use these to teach her classes of magical techniques, and also, I read, moral values. These books claimed that a few of these enchanted items are thought to still be around somewhere."
"Any idea what these items are? What they look like?" Harry asked, more enthusiastic now they were doing something again.
"No, the books I have read so far were all extremely vague about this. One did say that they were always recognisable as inventions of Ravenclaw, though. At least, if we assume that V-Voldemort got his hands on one of them, it narrows it down slightly."
"So that thing of Hufflepuff's that you saw in the pensieve, Harry... and something of Ravenclaw's, not Gryffindor's...then, we decided the other one was that snake of his, didn't we?" Ron questioned.
"Could be, I don't know for definate, but Dumbledore expected Nagini might be..." The dark-haired boy answered, looking thoughtful.
"That could be a difficult one then, couldn't it." Ron looked close to laughing and Harry was inclined to as well, imagining them kidnapping ( or snakenapping? ) the huge animal without being noticed.
Then the humourous side faded away as he realised he would, at some stage, find himself doing something very similar if Nagini was indeed a horcrux. Then there would very literally be the devil to pay if they were caught.
Harry snapped back into the present as he arrived at what had been the second lot of disturbing news of the day.
The conversation that Ginny had overheard about an information leak inside the Order.
Something about this made Harry very uncomfortable. He had been thinking of the Order of the Phoenix as a group fully and reliably on his side, people whom his friends and him could trust with their lives if they really had too. Now this belief had been extremely shaken.
The boy now realised exactly how quiet the horcrux issue had to be kept.
A/N - I am truely sorry that it took so long again. I don't expect to be as busy for the next few weeks and hopefully I can update more!
I would like to now take the time to thank
Forever Harry, Sailor Wade, Nemo Returning, nljfs, Miz, MyStOrIeS, WritersPassion25, volleyballblonde, Chinese Phoenix, MorganRay, urges, anna, kim, Aubs and Aidan
for their encouraging reviews ) Thanks!