Ugh. I've been bad about updating this, haven't I?
Sorry about that...
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine
Claimer: This stuff what I've invented is mine!
True to her word, Hermione began research as soon as she could get to the Library the next day. When Harry came around to collect her for breakfast, she was mildly amused to find Hermione walled inside a veritable fortress of books and tomes. Harry was seriously tempted to find some way to reign her friend in somehow, but Hermione hadn't looked this happy in quite a while and Harry just didn't have the heart for it.
Judging from the way Madam Pince was hovering about, clearly worried for her precious books, Hermione might find herself limited soon enough anyhow.
Ron had been less than pleased to find himself asleep on the couch; he'd intended to meet them when they came back, eager to hear how Malfoy had suffered in a real detention. Hearing that Malfoy had been excused from any punishment at all (and by Snape, Ron's other least-favorite person) sent the red-head into a snit. It only got worse when Harry and Hermione confided in Ron about what had actually happened during the detention itself.
"I can't believe they made you go into the Forest! You could have been - been eaten by a werewolf, or something!"
Hermione didn't even bother looking up from her latest book - Madame Pince had somehow convinced Hermione to check out a few of the books instead of monopolizing half of the library's contents - as she replied, "Because there are so many werewolves out during the new moon..."
Ron went slightly pink, but remained undeterred. "And what's worse is that that lousy git Malfoy got off! He should have been stuck mucking about in the Forest too! Honestly! How you two can be so calm about all this, I'll never understand..."
Ron started muttering under his breath. Harry sighed, and went back to work on her homework. Exams would start in a few weeks, and the professors were starting to pile on the work in response. And memorizing the names of Jupiter's moons was a useful distraction from that painful memory of the thing Harry had seen in the Forest...
At dinner that evening, Harry was sitting across from Hermione. Hermione had brought down a large load of books and was alternating between the books she had borrowed to discover the reasoning behind Harry 'seeing' magic, and her textbooks. Harry had to keep reminding her to take bites of her dinner.
Oddly enough, Ron was not with them. He had said something about 'wanting to check something' earlier and neither Harry nor Hermione had seen him since. Harry was just wondering if Ron was trying to avoid the study session Hermione had been trying to set up when the redhead plopped himself into the seat next to Harry and began helping himself to the food.
"Where have you been?" Harry blinked, "It's not like you to be late for dinner."
"'Orry - " Ron swallowed his mouthful, "I went to have a chat with Hagrid."
Ron hesitated, then quietly answered, "I told him that I was asking about that injured unicorn you found for you two. He said...he said that it was dead."
Hermione looked up from her books, startled. Harry suddenly found her clean plate to be fascinating. Ron pressed on.
"Something...got to it before Hagrid could catch up to it, he said..."
"That thing got it," Harry muttered.
"What thing? You saw what...what killed the unicorn, Harry?" Hermione asked.
For a long moment, Harry didn't say a word. A strange, queasy feeling was rolling around inside of her. Abruptly Harry stood and walked out of the Great Hall, ignoring the confused calls of her friends behind her.
Ron and Hermione only managed to catch up to Harry when she reached the common room. It was deserted, of course, since everyone else was still in the Great Hall eating dinner.
"Harry, what is going on? This isn't like you at all!" Hermione exclaimed.
"I agree with Hermione," Ron added, "If something's wrong, you should tell us about it!"
The irony of Ron and Hermione agreeing with each other was a little too interesting for Harry to ignore. She turned around to look at her friends despite herself┘and meeting that pair of determined gazes did in her resolve.
"Alright, I'll tell you," Harry sighed, "But you have to keep it a secret..."
Pulling into a corner of the common room, Harry told Ron and Hermione all about the strange thing that she'd seen in the Forest. She ended up having to explain the strange reaction of her scar at the Welcoming Feast as well, and, in the end, had ended up voicing the unnamed fear that had been plaguing her ever since the Forest.
"If all that's been happening is connected to my scar, and my scar comes from Vol- "
Ron interrupted Harry in mid-word with a strangled noise. It took Harry a minute to remember that no one in the Wizarding World wanted to hear that name ever again...she sighed and repeated, "If it comes from...You-Know-Who, then this has to mean that You-Know-Who is nearby, probably up to something."
"But how can You-Know-Who be here! He's dead! ...Isn't he?"
Hermione looked distinctly uneasy at Ron's words.
"Well, perhaps...his ghost is back for revenge?" she offered.
Ron shook his head.
"Dumbledore wouldn't let any part of You-Know-Who hang around Hogwarts, ghost or otherwise - and besides, why would You-Know-Who come here at all? Even if he's...Dumbledore was the one wizard that You-Know-Who always feared. Not even his ghost would dare hang around as long as Dumbledore is Headmaster..."
"Was his body ever found after that night?" Harry asked suddenly.
"...I never read anything about it, so I suppose it wasn't..." Hermione said slowly.
"Well, then whatever's left of him must be slinking around Hogwarts for a reason. If I were a nearly-dead wizard and wanted my powers back, what would I do? I'd go find something that would give me back those powers," Harry reasoned.
"But what could be here at Hogwarts that You-Know-Who would want badly enough to risk confronting Dumbledore over?" Ron asked.
There was a long pause - and then Hermione went white.
"...We already know what he's after," she whispered, "We even know whose dog is guarding it..."
"That's what You-Know-Who's after? That's bad, really bad - he'd have no trouble getting back to power with the Stone."
"But it's being guarded, isn't it? So it should be fine right where it is, shouldn't it?" Hermione asked.
Harry sighed to herself.
"Well, should we tell someone? Professor McGonagall, or maybe the Headmaster?"
"Won't we get in trouble for that? No one's supposed to know about the Stone being here to begin with, including us!"
"I think," Harry said, cutting into the debate, "That we should keep an eye out for anything suspicious. If we find out that You-Know-Who is making a move for the Stone...we tell Professor Dumbledore then."
"That sounds reasonable..."
The first few Gryffindors were returning from dinner now, and so the trio had to end their discussion there. But honestly, they were probably fretting over nothing. There was little chance that Voldemort would try anything - not as long as Dumbledore was around. And maybe they were completely wrong...maybe it really was just Voldemort's ghost, determined to haunt Harry for her role in his demise.
...Now if only Harry could really make herself believe that...