Author's Note: Many thanks to my devoted beta, Katy, for working so hard on this chapter. I love you man!
The Second Sight
Harry was barely paying attention to where he was going as he rushed from the Great Hall and so he ran right into someone. "Sorry," he grunted, turning to the person, only to realize with dawning horror that he'd run into Cho Chang.
"That's all right, Harry," she said with a small smile.
Harry felt a strong blush creeping up his neck as he looked at her and turned to hurry away.
"Harry!" Cho called after him.
Harry stopped walking but didn't turn to look at her.
"I just wanted you to know that I've never blamed you for what happened. To Cedric, I mean."
Harry closed his eyes as a fresh wave of painful guilt washed over him. "Thank you," he murmured softly, turning his head slightly to the side before heading out of the castle. Once outside, he decided that he didn't want anyone's company, not even Hagrid's, and so went instead to the broom shed by the Quidditch Pitch. He sat down in a dusty corner, pulled his knees to his chest, laid his head down on his knees and closed his eyes. He felt so weary and all he wanted was to sit quietly and not think, yet his mind was swirling with thought, his heart aching at the painful memories he couldn't let go.
He looked up when a shaft of light fell on him to find Professor Star in the doorway.
"Hello, Harry Potter," she said gently, letting the door fall closed behind her as she moved to sit next to Harry. "What troubles you?"
Harry was staring at her incredulously. "How did you know where to find me?" he asked.
"Christopher," she said simply, as though it explained everything. "What is it that brings you out here all alone?"
Harry shrugged, resting his head back on his knees. "I just needed to think," he said. A thought came to him then, and before he could stop himself, he said, "I heard a rumor about you."
Professor Star offered a small smile. "A rumor? Indeed?"
Harry nodded. "Someone said that you're not human."
"Oh? And who told you that?"
Harry shrugged. "Just someone."
She nodded. "Well, they were quite right indeed."
Harry stared at her, rather taken aback by this admission. "What are you, really?"
She chuckled. "You don't miss anything, do you, Harry Potter?" Weren't those almost exactly the words Christopher had used not a half hour ago?
"What are you?" he asked again, more softly this time.
"I am an elf."
"But I thought that elves were small and-"
"No, Harry," she interrupted with a small indulgent smile. "Those are house elves. I am an elf from the forest kingdom of Fatura. We are stronger and more powerful than house elves."
Harry thought about that for a moment. "I thought that the Ministry didn't allow magical creatures to become witches and wizards."
Professor Star smiled again. "Very few elves possess the magic of wizards. We have gifts unique to our race, but the few that are born with a wizard's gift are permitted to use it. The Ministry knows that we are the wisest of all creatures." She said the last part without any hint of pride; instead making it a statement of fact. "You should go back to the castle now, Harry Potter, before you are late for your next class."
"Yes, ma'am," Harry replied, slowly getting to his feet. He had Divination next, and while he always dreaded that class, today it was worse because of all of the things on Harry's mind.
By the time Harry made it up to the tower where Professor Trelawney's class was, he was quite winded. He climbed up the ladder and through the trap door into the classroom; feeling the immediate effect of the fumes coming from her fire that always made him feel a bit slow. He looked around to find Ron and saw Christopher was also seated at his table.
"Are you in all of my classes?" Harry said to Christopher when he sat down.
"Yes," Christopher said, matter-of-factly.
"Welcome to a new year," Professor Trelawney said in her misty voice. "This year we will be studying the Tarot cards. This is a very complex form of Divination and will require a lot of concentration on your part." She went around and gave each student a deck of Tarot cards. "Please shuffle your cards and face your partners. Turn to page 178 in your book and begin."
"I'll do yours first," Ron said to Harry.
"Let's see," Ron flipped over a card. "Um, this one's the card for…" he looked in his book, "the Lovers. Looks like you'll be meeting someone." Harry thought about Cho. Ron flipped the next card. "Hm… It's the card for Death. So..." Ron looked like he was putting things together, "you'll find love but then you'll die?" It was more of a question than a statement.
Professor Trelawney came and sat next to Harry. "Let me see the cards." She looked at the two turned up, Christopher moving behind her to see over her shoulder. "These cards mean that Harry will die soon, causing anguish for those close to him," Professor Trelawney said as she flipped another card from the pile. "This is the Golden Tower. It means that Harry's untimely death will strengthen a powerful institution, probably the Ministry of Magic."
"Step aside, foolish woman," Christopher said behind her, pushing her none too gently out of his way. "Do not attempt to read the Tarot when their meaning is closed to you."
"Excuse me," Professor Trelawney said coldly, eyeing Christopher with mounting dislike. "I think I know a bit more about the Tarot than you."
Christopher ignored her, the way he ignored most of the teachers at Hogwarts, choosing instead to read Harry's cards. "There will be turmoil and hardship in the near future that will cause a weak relationship to grow stronger." He flipped the next card, eyeing it closely before speaking. "This new relationship will end in tragedy, but the cause of it is unclear." He turned his expressionless eyes to Trelawney. "I believe Harry has a long time yet to live." Harry realized that the whole class had gone silent, listening to Christopher's interpretation of the Tarot. Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil looked ready to tear him to shreds for daring to outdo Trelawney, who they both adored.
"How dare you criticize me?" Professor Trelawney demanded, her wispy tone completely gone.
"What is wrong?" Christopher asked, his voice somewhat cooler than it had been. "Did you not see this coming? I believe it is wiser not to claim that you have the Second Sight when you do not, indeed, possess it."
Trelawney sputtered incoherently for a moment, her face red with anger, before saying sharply, "That is all for today. Class is dismissed."
Christopher wasted no time, practically bolting to the trap door and disappearing down it. Harry quickly packed away his things and rushed to catch up. He grabbed Christopher's elbow to stop him. "That's it then," he said, trying to catch his breath. "You can see the future."
"I don't know what you mean," Christopher denied, turning to go again.
"I think you do," Harry countered, tightening his grip on Christopher's elbow.
Christopher raised an eyebrow at Harry, looking him straight in the eyes. "What difference does it make to you if I can see the future?"
"It makes a difference because I think that's why you came here," Harry snapped. "Professor Star said not many elves could become wizards, yet here you are. And you already know everything we're being taught, so you don't even really need to be here in the first place."
Christopher considered him quietly for a moment, his cold eyes taking in Harry's determined expression. At last, he said, "Yes, I have the Second Sight. Professor Trelawney truly believes that she is possessed of it, but she is mistaken. She is…" he paused, apparently searching for a polite word to use, "an instrument. She only has true visions when Fate decides that she must, and at which point she will enter a trance. I believe that you witnessed such a trance two years ago?"
Harry wasn't even surprised that Christopher knew about that. "Yes," he said. "That's right."
Christopher nodded. "True Seers are extremely rare and they almost never share their ability with anyone. The Second Sight is something that a person is born with, something that cannot be taught within a classroom. There are, however, certain mediums which may allow ordinary wizards to ascertain certain events in the future, such as Tarot cards, but it must be taught concisely or the predictions will be wrong."
Harry processed this tidbit. So, Hermione was only partially right about Divination being a complete waste of time. If they'd had a competent teacher, they might have learned something useful. "What have you seen lately?" he asked curiously.
Christopher quirked his eyebrow a bit. "That is a very broad question, Harry Potter. I have many visions every day, and not all of them are clear." He thought for a moment. "Watch for the Daily Prophet tomorrow morning."
"A Muggle will be murdered tonight in her flat in London."
Harry's eyes widened. "What?" he exclaimed. "We've got to tell Dumbledore! Come on!"
Except Christopher wasn't moving. In fact, he was looking down at the floor. "No," he said. "I do not know who the victim is or even what part of London she lives in. If they did indeed find her, it would be too late to save her life."
"Why?" Harry asked urgently.
"It is difficult to see specific details over great distances." His eyes went out of focus as he spoke, his voice becoming distant. "She is old, for a human, perhaps sixty or seventy; her granddaughter is a witch. Lord Voldemort comes to the old woman's home looking for her granddaughter, only the child isn't there. He kills the old woman in anger before sending his Mark to hover over her home. The Muggles on the street are screaming… there is confusion and fear… the Ministry has trouble locating all of the witnesses…" his voice trailed off. After a moment of silence, his head snapped up as though he was waking from a nightmare, his expression suddenly sad. "I am sorry, Harry Potter," he murmured, closing his eyes slowly. "I sometimes get lost in my thoughts." He turned and began walking again.
"Wait!" Harry called after him, running to catch up again. "I'll walk with you."
Christopher said nothing.
"I'm sorry," Harry said after a moment. "For not trusting you before."
"I understand," Christopher replied. "You need not apologize."
"I'm still sorry," Harry muttered.
"Accepted," Christopher said. He paused at the door to the Transfiguration classroom. "Go in, Harry Potter. I must speak with Professor Star before class."
Harry hesitated a moment before saying, "You can just call me 'Harry', you know."
Christopher nodded. "Very well, Harry. Please make my excuses to Professor McGonagall for me."
"All right," Harry agreed readily enough. "See you later." Harry watched Christopher walk away, wondering how he could live with a burden like the Second Sight before he went into his classroom and sat down in his usual seat.
The classroom was empty because he was still very early (thanks to Christopher insulting Professor Trelawney for him) so he decided to wait for Ron and Hermione to arrive, assuming that Ron had gone to the Arithmancy class to wait for Hermione and walk her to class. He stared blankly at the chalkboard, not noticing the time slipping away. He didn't notice when he'd been there for half an hour and still the room was empty, not even Professor McGonagall having shown up. He rested his head on his arms, briefly wondering where everyone was before dozing off. He had a very peculiar dream.
Harry was walking on the school grounds near the lake. It was very peculiar how deserted and lonely everything felt, as though there were no people left in the world except him. Just as this thought crossed his mind, he saw Cho walking by herself at the lakeshore.
"Harry?" she called out suddenly, looking around but not seeing him.
"I'm here!" he called back, but she didn't seem to hear him.
"Harry, where are you?" she called again, turning in a full circle.
Suddenly, a cold, high voice spoke from the darkness; a voice that was only too familiar. "There is no Harry here."
"Who's there?" Cho asked sounding alarmed. "Show yourself!"
"Potter will be mine!" the cold voice cried triumphantly. "You are the key! Crucio!"
Cho fell to the ground screaming, even as Harry's scar began to burn.
When did my bed get so hard? Harry wondered as he observed the darkness behind his eyelids.
"Harry!" a familiar voice said close to his ear. "Harry, please wake up! Harry!" The familiar person, who sounded rather frustrated to Harry, began to shake his shoulders.
Harry's eyes fluttered open to find Hermione standing over him looking slightly concerned. "Huh?" he asked, lifting his head from the desk and rubbing sleep out of his eyes. "What happened?" He vaguely remembered a dream about Voldemort, but the particulars were gone.
"I came down here looking for you," Hermione said, straightening up at last. Without her in his direct sight, Harry saw that the classroom was still decidedly empty.
"Where is everyone?" he asked.
"Classes have been cancelled for the day," Hermione replied with a roll of her eyes. "Obviously, you missed the announcement because you were asleep on the desk."
Harry chose to ignore the last. "Cancelled? What for?"
Hermione suddenly looked away from him, fidgeting a bit. "Er… I think it would be best for us to go up to the common room now," she said, still avoiding eye contact.
"No," Harry said, crossing his arms over his chest, "not until you tell me why the classes have been cancelled." He glared at her stubbornly.
"Harry, I think it would be better—"
"No!" Harry cut her off. "Tell me what happened, Hermione!" He was starting to become angry and a bit frightened, though he would never admit to the last.
Hermione gave a very put upon sigh. "Fine," she said. "Just remember that I didn't want to tell you."
Harry nodded his understanding.
"Someone's gone missing off of school grounds."
Harry's eyes widened as he stared at Hermione's solemn face. "Missing? Who?"
Hermione muttered something very low that he couldn't hear.
"Very good," Harry said sarcastically. "Now why don't you try saying it so I can hear you?"
"I said 'It's Cho Chang'," Hermione stated firmly, averting her eyes again.
Suddenly the details of his dream came rushing back to him: Cho, the lake, Voldemort. Oh, God. He stared at Hermione silently, willing her to say that she was joking. Instead, she gave him a sympathetic look.
"Come on, Harry," she said gently, helping him up by his elbow. "Maybe it would help if you wrote to Snuffles."
Harry thought his heart might explode in his chest as they left the empty Transfiguration classroom behind. He had to tell someone. Since Hermione was right there, looking very convenient, he told her. "Hermione?"
"Yes, Harry?" she asked return, turning sad eyes toward him.
"Do they know if she's alive?"
Hermione swallowed and looked away from him. "No, they don't know much yet except that she's gone."
"Oh." They walked in silence for a moment, and then Harry said, "Hermione?"
Harry watched her for a moment before averting his own eyes. "I think I'm in love with her."
Hermione was silent for a long moment before she said, "I know."
This surprised Harry since he only just figured it out himself. "You know?" he asked.
"Girls know these things," Hermione said by way of explanation.
"Oh," he said again, looking at the floor before him. "You won't tell anyone, will you?" he asked after a few moments. "I need time to figure things out without having to answer a bunch of questions."
"Don't worry, Harry," Hermione replied, slinging a friendly arm over his shoulder. "I've kept your secret this long. I won't even tell Ron. I promise."
"Thanks," Harry muttered, keeping his head lowered and not looking at Hermione.
"That's what friends are for, Harry," she said lightly, giving him a little squeeze.
He smiled a little, but it was a sad sort of smile. They walked the rest of the way to Gryffindor Tower in silence. A strange numbness began to steal over Harry, making him feel as though he'd never have another emotion again. This made him think of Christopher, and suddenly he wanted to speak with the elf immediately. As soon as they entered the common room, Harry's eyes scanned for Christopher, but the blonde was nowhere in sight. Harry walked over to Ron, who was sitting in an armchair by the fire, reading a Quidditch magazine.
"Where's Christopher?" Harry asked, trying to keep his tone light.
"Who?" Ron asked, looking up at Harry in confusion. His expression cleared after a second though. "Oh, him. He's in the Hospital Wing." He went back to his magazine.
Harry visibly startled. "The Hospital Wing? Why?" he asked.
Ron shrugged not even bothering to look up this time. "Dunno. What do you care, anyway? I thought you didn't like him." He turned a page.
"Circumstances change, Ron," Harry snapped. When he turned around, he found Hermione eyeing him suspiciously. "I'm going to see him."
"Not right now, you're not, Harry Potter," Hermione said sternly, crossing her arms over her chest. "Students are confined to their houses for the rest of the night."
"You'll just have to wait until tomorrow," Hermione interrupted. "It's for your own safety, you know."
Harry rolled his eyes and gave a sarcastic little bow. "Very well, oh Royal Majesty," he said, affecting great respect. "Please don't get your royal knickers in a royal bunch." He went over to sit by Ron, even as the red head burst out laughing. Hermione huffed, but she was smiling as she sat next to Harry on the divan.
"So," Ron said, setting his magazine aside. "Are you ready to share what's been going on with you lately?"
Harry stared at him. He turned to Hermione, only to find her staring at him in the same expectant way. He sighed, feeling defeated. "All right," he muttered, letting his head drop. "I've just been… distracted lately, you know?" he started.
"Why?" Hermione asked.
Harry shook his head dejectedly. "Voldemort," he said. "It's always Voldemort. I feel like… I dunno… like I should be doing more. Helping somehow, and yet, here I sit, studying like there was nothing wrong in the world, but there is, and there's nothing I can do about it! Everyone looks up to me to save them, but I don't know what to do! I'm just some stupid kid! What do they expect from me?"
Hermione began rubbing his back gently. "I know it must be difficult for you," she said gently. "Have you thought about talking to Dumbledore about all of this?"
Harry snorted inelegantly. "Yeah, there's a good idea," he muttered. "He'll just twinkle at me and offer sherbet lemons."
Ron began laughing hysterically and Hermione shot him a disdainful look. "What?" he said. "It was funny."
"Harry—" Hermione started.
"Just leave it, Hermione," Harry interrupted. "Talking it into the ground isn't going to help." Then, just as Hermione was opening her mouth to argue, he said, "Want a game of chess, Ron?"
Ron shrugged and stood up. "Sure, why not."
Hermione glared at both of them as though she thought chess was inappropriate at a time like this.
Harry and Ron had been playing for about an hour, Ron having won three games straight, when Ron said, "I wonder when they're going to bring up dinner." The words had hardly left his mouth when 20 house elves appeared carrying trays laden with food.
"Finally!" Ron exclaimed, rubbing his hands together eagerly. "I was ready to eat my king! It's not like you were ever going to get to it." He went to get his dinner after placing Harry's king in checkmate for the fourth time.
"You know, Ron," Harry said as he too helped himself to some dinner. "I'm going to beat you one of these days, and I'll never let you forget it."
"Of course you will, Harry," Ron said with the air of one placating a spoiled child. Harry smiled as he began eating.