Disclaimer: JK's world, I'm just living here
A/N: so sorry for the gaps between updates! So heres an extra long chapter to make up for the inactiveness! Hope you like! Once again, this chapter has not been officially edited, so please excuse some mistakes. Please R&R
The Missing Boy
Chapter Twenty One
The darkening sky was just as dull as the waning light of dusk had been, and yet Harry still reveled in it. The sound of Sirius's cursing and thundering footsteps made the soggy ground beneath him quiver; and the chill of the on coming night was beginning to creep into his bones. That oh so wonderful smell of grass was still surrounding him, and Harry planned to memorize it while he could. He was amazed just how much he'd missed it. All of it. He never wanted to go back inside again.
But just as he made this decision, Sirius chose to block out his wonderful view of the overcast sky. The big man collapsed to his knees beside him and Harry suddenly found himself in Padfoots arms.
Warm rough hands had gathered him up into a rib breaking hug. The slightly damp robes of his Godfather engulfed his face and the smell of damp, musty passageways filled his nose as Padfoot buried his head in Harry's shoulder. Harry knew this would be the peak of his day-because of course the scolding's were going to fill the rest of it.
Maybe this is part of my punishment? Harry thought bemusedly, for Sirius seemed determined to squeeze all the air from his lungs, but a moment later the man began muttering angrily.
"You stupid STUPID boy! Running off like that! Hermione's worried sick-crying. Stupid! What if death eaters came!? -Don't think!-Just like your father-Lily would kill you for this! I was so worried-you little bloody PRAT!" and with that Harry was scuffed across the back of his head as Sirius held him at arms length.
"Don't you dare run off like that again! We have the whole sodding castle looking for you! Merlin's beard I think I'm going to be sick. Never again. NEVER AGAIN you hear me!?"
Harry nodded numbly, his mind spluttering quietly as a new thought struck him. He was amazed that he had never noticed it before, but someone cared about him. Really cared about him. True, he had always known that Sirius was the one adult he could always count on. But he'd never thought of it like this. Sirius was the one who'd answer his call for help, in fact he had already proved this when he tried to tell him how to get past his Dragon during the first task. His Godfather, who used to ride a motorbike and was best friends with his father, Sirius was the one who would charge to his rescue, wand ablaze, with a witty retort ready on his tongue.
Distantly, he'd always known it, but he'd never been faced with evidence like THIS.
Sirius Black, Padfoot, a gallivanting Marauder, was acting like Molly Weasley.
Was acting like a parent.
Oblivious to Harry's revelation, Sirius pulled him back into another bone breaking hug.
"Merlin! I'm glad you're okay." Padfoot admitted into the top of Harry's messy head, while- if possible- tightening his hold on him.
Harrys mind was still in a spin, parent, parent, parent, the word was a wrecking ball in his mind, destroying all other thoughts and leaving itself imprinted everywhere it could.
"Mum and Dad would probably come back and kill you if I wasn't" Harry found himself saying, perhaps attempting a joke; he wasn't sure because he'd had no control of his mouth, let alone his mind, as they formed the words. Sirius's shoulders shook.
"Too right. Your mum would be chasing me around the kitchen with a rolled up paper again. Still have nightmares about that night. And James would disown me"
Harry laughed at tad hysterically at the mental image of Snuffles running from an enraged red headed, green eyed mother he'd never known. A prophet in her raised hand.
But still the new thought chased him.
"I'd ground you for life If I thought you'd actually listen" Sirius muttered. He pushed Harry back again-he was starting to feel like a yoyo
"AND WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT DIVE!?-brilliant-bloody brilliant of course-BUT BLOODY HELL HARRY! BLOODY FUCKING HELL!"
Harry was feeling oddly light headed, and for once he knew it wasn't because of his health. No, it was the odd sense of euphoria that was rushing through his veins, mixing with that long missed adrenaline rush he always got from flying.
"Well!? What do you have to say for yoursel-oh Merlin. I sound like my mother. Never let me finish that sentence Harry-save me from myself! If I ever finish that sentence you have permission to curse me, and make it a good one too cause I promise you'll only get one shot before I have you in a headlock." Padfoot babbled; his eyes glazed over by the very idea of what he almost said.
At the garbled outburst, Harry felt his mind slowly click back into gear. Perhaps not a parent per say, but something very close too it.
"Come on. On your feet; you're covered with mud. And don't think I've forgotten that stunt! Shit- if I could have pulled that off at your age I'd be…well, probably dead."
He frowned at the idea for a moment before blinking, shaking his head and continuing on.
"Or still in the same position I am now, cause I doubt I'd have been smart enough to use it for anything, career wise or otherwise, and I'd probably have a few more scars-but MERLIN KID! That's beside the point!"
Harry laughed as he dragged himself into a sitting position; mud squelching as it reluctantly relinquished its grip on him. Definatly not a parent of the conventional kind, but Harry didn't mind.
"You could have broken something! Hell-I'm surprised you didn't break something! And frankly; you're banged up enough as is for the rest of your LIFE! AND THAT BLOODY DIVE STOLE A FEW FUCKING YEARS FROM MY LIFE! You better bloody DO AS I SAY to make up for that and BEHAVE!" Sirius continued, waving his arms about his head to emphasize his point.
His frame crumpled as he rubbed at his eyes
"Bloody hell I need some Ogden's" his Godfather muttered under his breath.
Godfather. The title suddenly meant more to Harry then it had before.
Grabbing Harry by the arm, Padfoot began to steer him back towards Hogwarts hulking shape. Harry followed without a word of complaint; head buzzing pleasantly, covered in mud, freezing, with his Firebolt at one side and an enraged Godfather at the other.
No, Harry didn't mind at all.
Draco Malfoy was in a position he never thought he would find himself in.
He, a great pureblood wizard who was by far the most intelligent student in his year (a certain mudblood would NOT be mentioned thankyouverymuch). He, who was heir to the Malfoy legacy, HE! Who had been voted most eligible in the Witch Weekly's last pole!
And here he was, up to his elbows in what was likely thousand year old grime.
He had dirt under his fingernails.
He had dust all over his robes.
He had cobwebs in hishair.
He was crawling through a tiny, cramped, stuffy TUNNEL for MERLINS SAKE!
And why? WHY?! Because HARRY BLOODY POTTER WAS BLOODY WELL MISSING!
Draco seethed as he shuffled forward, arm over arm down the small space, dragging himself further into the dank little hole. Because, of course, he was the only one in his group who had been able to FIT into the miserable space!
Damn me and my slender shoulders! He lamented silently. True he was lean, frighteningly so, but at least he had some height to make up for it. Not that it mattered to his one time friends.
"Why the hell isn't Pansy in here!" he muttered huffily, voice echoing about the cramped space and boxing at his own ears "She's just as lean as me! But no, miss 'I might break a nail' couldn't possibly crawl down the tiny blasted hole! I don't even LIKE Potter and I've been forced to look for him. Where is the justice in that! What if I don't WANT him found? Would I still be in this tunnel? Yes! Because apparently my opinions don't matter! No, they NEVER matter! 'I'm not going in that hole', I say, but what happens the next minute?! I get stuffed in the hole! I don't want to bloody well take Arithmacy; useless subject! Just when in battle do you have the time to draw out sets of blasted protective numerals in a doubly blasted array? Never! Its charm work that's useful! Resourceful! But, no, mother makes me drop it! She makes me take up Arithmacy! I don't want to go to father's ridiculous 'business' parties! But of course I'm forced to go and rub shoulders with all the right people. And I tell father I don't want to be a-"
"You say something Draco? Everything alright in there?"
Draco froze, grey eyes popping in the dim light as he realized he'd been babbling. Babbling? Malfoy's don't BABBLE!
"Perfectly fine! Why don't you get in here and see?" he snapped quickly, and his one time friends chuckled merrily as if this were the most darling joke they had ever heard.
Draco continued to drag himself foreword, cursing his stupidity silently. He even managed to ignore the dust bunnies that seemed determined to strangle him. He just had to check this stupid tunnel for the equally dense Potter and then he could leave. Why did the whole castle have to be searched anyway? The great Harry Potter would never have come down to the dudgeons after all; any idiot would know that. The resident celebrity wouldn't risk his shoes getting tainted by such a Slytherin domain after all. In fact, he bet scarhead was off somewhere having a right jolly laugh as the student body searched for him.
Draco swore as his elbow connected with the tunnels rough wall, and winced at the sound of tearing fabric. I must look a right mess, he thought in disgust as he tried to rub his elbow in the tight space, good Merlin I want a shower.
But all of these trite thoughts were just the young Malfoy heir's way of distracting himself. For his inner thoughts were in a turmoil, in fact, they were edging on panic. How could he have let his guard slip? How could he have allowed himself to say all that aloud?
Just what had they heard?
Remus shamefully found himself grateful that Hermione was in such a state as she hiccupped haltingly and tried to blink back tears, because she gave him something to do.
Or rather, something else to do. Something else to focus on.
He tried to push the fact to the back of his mind. But however much he tried it kept returning like a rouge bludger. You're acting like a Slytherin he realized; arms' freezing for a moment around Hermione's shaking shoulders. Yes, that little voice sounded much too much like Sirius for his liking.
But even if that was true, it didn't change the fact it was a very welcome distraction. How could he possibly fret about Harry as he rubbed soothing circles on his distraught students back? How could he resent the fact he was utterly useless, stuck in bed, as everyone else searched for the boy while Hermiones' breath kept hitching? How could he brood about his useless leg when Hermione needed him to be reassuring, positive and calm?
As the girl crumpled in his arms, muttering disjointed words of guilt, Remus wished he was a better person.
He must be a horrible man, to be, if not happy about someone else's suffering, but thankful for it.
Definitely a Slytherin, piped the tiny Sirius voice.
Moony refrained from sighing as he pried Hermione from him gently. The girl was a mess, eyes red, nose blotchy, cheeks stained with tears. She kept wringing at her vest, sniffing, as her tiny voiced quivered.
"Its'all my fault Professor! I was meant to be watching him. I let schoolwork come before Harry. Come before a human being! How could I? Harry could be hurt-he-he-he could be dead!" she whimpered, voice blocked and muffled. Remus quickly shook his head, conjuring a handkerchief and handing it to her as he grasped her shoulder.
"Come now. He'll be fine Hermione" he said, voice gentle. Slytherin, Slytherin Slyrtherin, Sirius mocked. "I promise." He continued, ignoring the voice as much as he could.
"We both know Harry's probably been going stir crazy stuck in one room for so long. And didn't you say he's getting better? He'll be perfectly fine; Sirius is looking for him after all. There's not a nook of this castle that Padfoot doesn't know about, he'll find him. Just you wait and see"
And as if his words held the same power as Sybil Trelawney's raspy voice, the doors of the Hospital Wing creaked open.
"-was still reckless. You of all people?! Wait, no, there's the reason right there. Did I mention the castles gone half mad looking for you?" Padfoot's familiar tones enquired, echoing slightly in the hospitals high ceiling. A second later a scoff was heard and a lighter, no less familiar voice replied-"Yes, just once or twice" in an amused if tried timbre.
Hermione's reaction was instantiations. Her breath caught, her red rimmed eyes shot open, and a beaming grin claimed her face. But the joy was brief, for a furious snarl soon took over. Her eyes flashed as she reached for her wand, and a second later the curtains around Remus's bed were fluttering madly. Leaving him suddenly alone.
The sound of sensible heels clipping feverishly against the stone floor assaulted Remus's sensitive ears. He looked at the curtains blocking his view, and for once was quite glad of them.
Hell hath no fury…
"Hermione! what ar-" Harry's voice was cut short by a resounding slap that made Moony cringe in sympathy.
"Ouch" he heard Sirius mutter.
"What the hell was that for?!" Harry demanded, no doubt rubbing at his smarting cheek. Remus rolled his eyes. Yes, that boy is definitely his Fathers Son.
"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR?! MERLINS SWEATY BALLS HARRY! I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD! I THOUGHT VOLDEMORT HAD TAKEN OVER YOUR MIND AND WALKED YOU OFF THE ASTROMONY TOWER! YOU HAVE NO BLOODY IDEA HOW WORRIED I WAS! I WANT TO CURSE YOU SO BAD RIGHT NOW, THAT MALFOY THE BOUNCY FERRET WILL LOOK LIKE CHILDS PLAY!" Hermione shrieked; voice cracking and Moony winced, shaking his head to dislodge the ringing that had claimed it. It was days like these that he cursed his werewolf hearing.
"I'll just leave you two to it then hmm?"
The curtains shuffled aside to reveal the owner of the voice, and Remus felt immensely sorry for Harry, left alone to face such an irate Hermione. She must be livid to use that sort of language, he mused.
Setting the drapes back in their place, Padfoot smiled and sat beside Remus on his cot.
"I'm taking it you found Harry. Quiddich pitch?"
"Quiddich Pitch" Sirius confirmed.
-"DID IT EVER CROSS YOUR MIND THAT IF YOU WANTED TO GO OUTSIDE SO MUCH THAT YOU COULD HAVE ASKED!? CLASSES HAVE BEEN CANCELLED BECAUSE OF YOU! CANCELLED!"-
"That's our boy, you hear that? Disrupting the curriculum, just like his dad. We only managed to get them to do that twice, and that was when we flooded the whole castle second year and set the fourth floor on fire seventh. He's finally growing up" Sirius crooned, wiping aside a fake tear as he sniffed dramatically. Remus shook his head, trying to fight off a grin. He had been the Prefect after all, appearances had to be upheld.
"I'm still not sure how you managed that. The flooding I mean, I saw the fire-in fact-I distinctly remember the smell of singed hair. Peter's eyebrows didn't grow back for weeks"
Sirius snorted, stealing one of Moony's pillows as he took over any spare room the tiny bed offered.
"Wish they never grew back, bloody rat. Oh, and It involved toilets. Lots of toilets. I'll say no more" Padfoot admitted, a shark like grin taking over his face.
-"I CAN'T BELIVE YOU MADE A DOPPELGANGER TO FOOL ME! ILLUSIONS LIKE THAT ARE STRICKLY FORBIDDEN AT HOGWARTS SINCE 1607! IT SAID SO IN 'HOGWARTS, A HISTORY'! YOU BROKE EIGHT RULES WITH ONE SPELL HARRY! EIGHT RULES!"-
Both men paused for a moment, listening to Harry's useless babbling which was whisper loud compared to Hermione's earsplitting bellows. Remus was amazed Madam Pomfrey hadn't emerged yet, then again, maybe she hopes this will finally make a impression on the boy. Detentions never work, but I don't think he will dare agitate Hermione again after this.
"Hermione has lungs to rival Lily's" Remus noted, tugging his pillow out from under Sirius's head which thumped to the mattress without it.
-"IF YOU DO THAT AGAIN I'M GOING TO CASTRATE YOU! AND I KNOW THE HEX! SO DON'T TEMPT ME!"-
Sirius chuckled, shuffling about on the bed as he crossed his arms behind his head. Comfortably, he asked
"Do you remember the day Lily Castrated James? I do, bet she used the same spell Hermione's threatening Harry with too. Oh the screams, James refused to leave the dormitory for a week, even after Madam Lenyed grew them back"
-"MELRIN HARRY! I HAVN'T BEEN THIS WORRIED SINCE HALLOWEEN! YOU HORRIBLE BLOODY PRAT!" Another slap cracked through the air, followed soon after by Harry's cussing and a quiet 'could you at least hit the other side of my face?!'-
"You sound far too cheerful about this, not just the prospect of Harry being castrated, but the whole situation. Did you yell at him at all? Or just reminisce?" Moony asked, preparing to defend himself with a pillow just in case Sirius took the question the wrong way.
Without opening his eyes, Sirius blew hair from his face.
"Oh I yelled, sounded like my mother. Scared myself for life I did, so I'm trying to forget about the situation, while looking forward to my medication"
"I hid your Firewhisky"
"I hate you"
Two days passed quickly in the castle, but it would take longer for the hubbub to die down. Classes had resumed as usual to the disappointment of most students, and relief of some. But it would take longer for the frenzied rumors to calm.
"I was told they found him asleep in his bed in Gryffindor tower"
"Heard they found him in the forbidden forests! He went to get the unicorns to heal him!"
"nah! I heard that he was back in the Chamber of Secerets!"
"what would he be doing there?"
"Talking parseltongue stupid"
"he was at the Lake, talking to the Mermaids and the giant squid!"
"I thought he was found by the elves in the kitchen?"
"ew no! The Grey Lady found him in a secret passageway that you can't get out of"
"Then how'd he get in?"
"the library! He was totally in the library!"
"Astromondy tower!-yeah that's what-"
"-Dungeons. Mm hmm-yeah-"
"heard he was-"
"no, it was-
"you're all stupid, he was in-"
It went on and on, and for some strange reason, the Quiddich pitch never made its way into the rumor pool. It was far too mundane for most students' tastes after all.
But despite it all, once again Harry potter had disappeared off the map (The marauders map in fact). So as usual, the true story was bogged down by gossip. Lots and lots of gossip.
"Hermione? Is this all really necessary?" Harry asked from his usual spot on the couch the There and Gone room had produced for him.
Hermione scowled as she continued muttering under her breath, flicking and slashing her wand in turn, as if to punctuate the angry thoughts that still circulated her mind.
Harry rolled his eyes and slumped lower in his chair. At last, he was feeling fine. Sure, he still woke up plotting Lucius Malfoys murder every now and then, but he was finally feeling up to par. (And truthfully? He looked forward to those dreams where their roles were reversed) He could eat real food now, and didn't even feel nauseas afterwards. He even looked forward to dinner now. Harry was looking healthy too. None of the gauntness remained, none of the sickly pallor in his skin, if fact; he almost felt like his old self.
The air before Harry was beginning to glow brightly, becoming a curtain of sparks it fluttered as Hermione's wand passed threw it, like motes of dust in sunlight the lights whirled and danced in the air. Harry squinted, and swore he could see runes floating about in the glowing cloud, formed and reformed by clusters of sparks. With a final mumbled word, she stabbed her wand in his directions and the radiance shot forward.
Harry closed his eyes as the lights surrounded him and clung to his skin. It reminded him of the static socks he'd once pulled out of the dryer whenever he had to do the Dursleys laundry. I wonder what they were told? He pondered briefly, before a tiny flickering heat trickled across his flesh.
For a second Harry panicked, memories flashing through his mind and tearing apart all rational thoughts. Hermione disappeared; the comfortingly bright room was gone, and the gentle golden light had dulled.
-The sparks, bright electric blue, jumped and flickered towards him, playing in the uneven currents of his heaving breath. Oh Merlin what did they do?!-The lights illuminated the dank cell softly, highlighting every stain on the floor and throwing erratic shadows-They leapt forward-Skitting across his skin, beautiful, dainty-but Malfoy had just conjured these! -dread- They sank into his flesh, slicing at skin and muscle with the ease of a feather, drifting to earth-blood, seeping- weeping-oozing-burning. Pain -
Harry jumped and the memory was gone. And as he blinked, the golden light faded too. He swallowed thickly, mastering his rushing breath before opening his eyes.
"Did I hurt you?" Hermione asked quickly, sitting beside him. Harry forced a grin and shook his head.
"Nah, just felt odd is all. What did you do?" he asked, proud that his voice didn't shake. His heart was trotting a hundred mile lap about his chest, and the blood thrumming through his ears was gaining.
Hermione was silent for a moment, taking in his slightly sweating brow before finally accepting his lie. Harry released a subtle breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. There were still some things he didn't want to share.
"It's a tracing charm. Takes a while to caste; so it's impracticable in the battle field and such, but in your case, I think it's perfect. All I need to do now is caste another quick charm and I can track you wherever you are. Only the caster of the original spell and cast the second charm too, a nice safety feature. It wears out after a month though. But for the time being…lets see you trick me with an illusion now!"
Harry felt a chuckle rise in his throat, but upon seeing Hermione's expression swallowed it. Ah, still sore about that is she?
Harry was quite proud of that illusion, and especially in the fact it had fooled Hermione as long as it had. One fact he wasn't going to part with though; was just how long it had taken him to caste it. He'd had to reference four books! But the time outside he'd stolen were worth it. Most defiantly worth it, he remembered with a smile.
At that moment a sharp rapping came from the door.
"Are you two decent in there?" Came Lupin's voice. Harry scowled as the door opened slightly to reveal his favorite professor, eyes closed comically as he grinned.
"Not interrupting anything am I? Don't want to have to explain any goings on to Sirius later if I am"
"Professor!" Hermione gasped, face bright red. Lupin chuckled as he closed the door behind himself.
"Technically I've been given sick leave for a few more weeks. So 'Lupin' or 'Remus' will do. I'm no ones teacher till then. Not officially at least." He told them, his usual smile surrounded by a pale face. Harry noticed that he had darker bags then usual around his eyes, and that his grip on his cane was turning his knuckles white.
"Where's Snuffles?" Hermione asked as she got up and offered her seat to Lupin, Remus smiled his thanks and collapsed onto the couch.
"Looking for Dumbledore I think. Obviously hasn't found him yet though, because the castles still standing and Dumbledore found me a few minuets ago. And is thus still breathing. He told me to tell you that, 'If your healthy enough to run away Harry my dear boy, then your healthy enough to go back to class' quote un-quote and such" Lupin mumbled, eyes half closed. It was clear he was exhausted.
Harry was grinning,
"I can go back to class!?" he demanded, just to be sure. Merlin, something as mundane, as normal as schoolwork would be… would be fantastic!
"I wish more students sounded that enthusiastic" he muttered before dragging his eyes back open. He smiled at Hermione
"Are you rubbing off on him?" he asked.
Hermione was bemused, looking at Harry as if he'd just sprouted a second head, and that head had resembled her.
"You want to go back?" she repeated quietly, as if she were trying to figure out some riddle. But Harry ignored her, fore Lupin had continued to speak:
"Yes, you're welcome back in your classes and everyone –faculty I mean of course- has been informed about the…wand situation. We've all organized catch up lessons and alternative activities. As soon as I teach you a few charms you can start"
Harry beamed. Even if all of the professors now knew about the 'wand situation' as Lupin had put it, it couldn't dampen his mood. Even Snape knowing about it didn't bother him. With Hermione's gloves at least he could do theory and write, he could even cut up potion ingredients…come to think about it…he realized, and I cannot believe I'm even thinking this, I think Potions is about to become my favorite subject.
And that was because he would be able to do it without a wand. As it stood, Harry planned to keep his Wandless magic an ace up his sleeve as long as possible. And if that meant playing the squib, so be it.
Herbology will also be doable. And Divination and Astronomy. Harry grinned, Herbology he could enjoy, and with Neville at his side he could excel at it too.
"Profes- …er...Mr Lupin? What do you mean by teaching Harry a few Charms? You know all about the Wand situation after all" Hermione asked quietly, and a lopsided grin grew across Lupins face.
"Ah yes. Two days ago in the Hospital wing, I heard you mention something…most interesting Hermione" he admitted. Harry felt his elation slowly dim.
He couldn't know…could he?
Harry looked up slowly, and saw Hermione's face pale and turn crimson in the space of a second.
"I..I-you must have heard me wrong professor" she stuttered and Harry wracked his brain for something she might have said-or yelled- that afternoon that could have given him away. His cheek ached at the memories he was drudging up, but any useful one eluded him. What did she say?!
The grin on Lupins face left no doubt that he was once a Marauder, and one of the masterminds at that. One mustn't let a Prefect badge fool you after all.
"Oh, I don't know Hermione. What other words could I have mistaken 'doppelganger' for? And if my memory serves me right- and don't bring up the 'O' word, Sirius does that enough as is-you then went on to say something about 'illusions' and breaking eight Hogwarts rules, all by one 'spell'"
By the end of this, Hermione's face looked like it would be red permanently.
"I'm sorry Harry. I…" she mumbled but Harry shook his head. It could have been so much worse, he was thinking quietly. Hermione's words hadn't given too much away, she hadn't even mentioned 'wandless' after all.
"Someone was going to find out eventually Hermione." He soothed "Don't worry, at least it was Lupin. Does Snuffles know? Have you told anyone else?" he asked Lupin, and Lupin shook his head.
"Not yet, but I'm sure he'll notice Hermione's slip eventually. Snuffles is a smart one, don't let his…absentmindedness fool you. And for now, you're the only one I've said anything too. But it's true? You can still do magic? How?"
That marauder sheen in the professors' eyes had given way to a scholarly one, craving new information like a Niffeler craves gold shiny things.
Harry was surprised to find himself hesitating. Should I tell him? The more people that know is the more people who can tell…but this is Lupin! If there's someone I can trust its Lupin…but…
Harry looked up. The graying professor was still white faced, but no one could misinterpret the excitement in his eyes. Excitement for Harry? Excitement of a new form of magic?
But he's a werewolf-
Harry blanched, stumbling to his feet and way from his chair. His stomach churned as he lurched towards the window that had suddenly popped into existence for his use.
Harry was decidedly green as he threw open the window and thrust his head outside. He breathed in the damp chilly air greedily, his clammy face turning icy with the suddenly cold wind brushing against it. But Harry didn't really notice. His gloves were gripping the windowsill with what he imagined were white knuckles.
Where the hell did that thought come from!?
One hand crept to his forehead, a leather-bound finger tracing along his scar…his original scar.
Another hand suddenly gripped his shoulder and Harry jumped, spinning around with a snarl-
But Hermione's concerned face didn't change at the face of his aggression. In fact, her grip on his shoulder tightened. Lines that really shouldn't be around her eyes crinkled with worry.
"Are you feeling ill Harry?" she asked, slowly steering him away from the window.
Harry shook his head, his stomach still heaving.
"I don't know"
As the pure trilling note sounded, Dumbledore rose from his desk and made his way across the room. Opening a side door from his office, he entered his private residence and continued his brisk pace.
His quarters were as extravagant as always. Purple hangings taking pride of place along one wall, embroidered with the tale of Phelgenn the Wise (the man who created the first pensive, and in turn trapped himself in it) which was complete with its own heavy golden trims. Bookshelves charmed to the brim and still overflowing with crumbling tomes lined the opposite wall. All three levels of it. Intricate conjured doilies sat atop each of his twenty four trunks, do-hickies and thing-a-ma-jigs took up space and spun and chimed and whistled. Gilded ladders zoomed about the bookshelves' rungs, colliding with each other with bell like tolls that resonated against the peach marble floors. His four-poster bed, with its' orange quilt and green striped pillows was hidden off to one side, behind a huge door inlayed with mother of pearl and mermaid scales (willingly given of course). And as a finishing touch, a cheery little sign hung from the doors goliath handles. The primary coloured letters proclaiming 'Albus's Room' in a childish but heartwarming fashion.
Yes, this was Albus Percival Wulferic Brian Dumbledore's haven, and every detail of it was just as he liked it.
One item however, was a new addition to the room. A room he hadn't changed once since becoming headmaster.
The small golden cauldron sat in its place above the enchanted fire in the corner of the room. Trying to belong; but somehow looking out of place even amongst the chaos surrounding it.
Albus sighed as he plucked the long glass rod from where it stood, perfectly balanced, in the centre of the bubbling mixture.
The latest results from his potion had been…troubling. Yes, troubling to say the least.
Giving the concoction three strong stirs as it required, he paused.
Fearing, yes fearing, what he might find, Dumbledore withdrew another string of the green liquid with a flick of his wand. Depositing the rope in the awaiting clear crystal goblet, Albus steeled himself and lifted the glass to his eye.
What had once been a bright clear liquid was becoming murky. The green fluid was congealing in sullen clumps, and as he held it up to the light his face became shadowed with the tainted pieces.
By all observations, the potion was…was rotting.
Albus felt horror settle in his stomach; oh Merlin, this can't be right. It hadn't been this bad last time he had checked! Just a little darker in colour…that was all.His hand began to shake and a glob of the putrid mess spilled from the top of the glass. He watched with fascination as his nausea rose; the gunk was beginning to eat away at the rug it had fallen on.
But how could that be!?
Dumbledore groaned as he dumped the rest of liquid back in its cauldron, wincing as some lumps 'plopped' and as others clung to the side of the goblet. Muttering under his breathe he reset the charm that would inform him when the potion needed to be checked. But he was beginning to wonder if he needed to anymore, if he wanted to anymore.
He looked back at the potion, and suddenly it looked sickly. Its rolling surface looking more like boils bursting rather then mundane bubbles created from heat.
Dumbeldore stumbled over to one of his leather armchairs and collapsed in its cushioned embraced.
That…that can't be!
The old man buried his face in his gnarled hands.
The potion was illegal in nature, but Dumbledore had felt that the situation called for its brewing. It had many names, some old Nordic, some Latin, others were even Egyptian and Arabic. Many were long and tongue twisting, others unpronounceable unless you spoke the language fluently. But all of them meant the same simple thing:
A liquid form to observe something unseen, a tactile version of something intangible and formless. A mirror, a window to ones true essence.
Albus felt his own soul weigh heavy in his chest as his fingers tugged at his white locks.
I must have brewed it wrong. This can't be right!
Albus almost felt like crying.
The Boy Who Lived's soul could not be rotting!
Harry mastered his breathing as Hermione sat him down beside Lupin.
Whatever the hell that was… an unnerving flash of crimson flashed before his minds eye. His resolve deepened as a frown played at his face. I'm not going to let it control me.
Because there was one thing that Harry Potter wasn't anymore. 'Innocent' he was sure some would say, but Naïve was the word that came to his mind. At one time, he knew he would have rushed off to Professor McGonagall or someone of the like, screeching about his hurting scar. What bloody good did that ever do him? No, he knew where that thought had come from…
Merlin, he hoped he was wrong.
He looked up at Lupin, meeting those amber eyes squarely. Kind eyes; now filled with worry for him.
The fact that Remus Lupin was a werewolf had never been an issue in Harry's mind before. Even after He and Hermione had run from his 'furry little problem' under the full moon in third year…It was just another aspect of who the professor was. Just like how Hermione was a bossy know-it-all, how Ron was the jealous type, how Neville was frustratingly clumsy and how he himself sometimes had a Dark Lord in his head.
None of these things could be changed, despite how much he might want them too. And so they were acknowledged, and in turn pushed to the back of his mind. Why obsess over something that couldn't be helped?
If I can't trust Lupin who can I trust? Memories of Patronus lessons filled his head, followed by the chocolate offered at every failed attempt. All the banter between the man and his Godfather. All the proud smiles in class.
"Wandless Magic" the words were free of his mouth, and Harry could have sworn that he felt a shimmer of disappoint shrivel in his mind. Ha, take that, He thought at the diminishing presence, triumph filling him. Without the pain that usually accompanied such a thing, Harry knew that it wasn't Voldemort, at least not him personally. No blind pain, no terrifying visions. No, Harry's guess was that this was some lingering effect of one of the snake faced bastards curses.
He could deal with it.
The professors eyes widened, a smile etching itself on his face, and Harry pushed his discovery aside.
"Merlin." His fathers friend breathed "To think you could use it at all so young. A Doppelganger you said? Astounding. The level of control you must have…" Lupin broke off, a laugh erupting from his mouth as he sat back, hitting his thigh as he shook his head.
"Harry, you will never cease to amaze. Then again after mastering a Patronus at thirteen I shouldn't be so surprised should I?"
Harry felt an embarrassed smile grace his face along with the beginnings of a blush.
"Can you show me Harry?" Lupin asked, making no attempt to hide his enthusiasm.
Harry grinned and lifted his hand.
With a lazy swish and flick of his wrist, and a careless thought of Wingardium Leviosa, Lupin's cane began to drift about their heads, flipping and twirling as if it were leading a marching band.
Harry's smile grew at the sight of Lupin's face. He looked like Christmas had come early. And he had gotten every priceless dusty tome he wanted. Harry lifted his other hand and made one of Hermiones quills join the cane in the air. After a moment the two objects began to waltz, swaying back and forth as they orbited each other gently.
"Now you're just showing off" Hermione noted.
With a grander than needed flourish, Harry set the items back in there proper places.
"How long did it take you to get to this level Harry? I must admit that levitation is quiet straight forward, only first level magic after all, but Wandless magic has a different scale entirely! That has to be taken into consideration. The spells themselves are secondary to the level of control presented. I don't know how to rank you Harry; I simply don't know enough to start! I've only read passing mentions of Wandless magic. I'm sure you're aware just how rare this is! It takes an extremely strong witch or wizard to begin with-I'll have to read up on this! The concept never really grabbed me before; I always thought it was just too obscure a subject to research. How many books could there be? Millions of course, but how many written by actual Wandless practitioners? And to what merit? Reading a book written by someone who only has a rudimentary grasp on the art would be frankly a waste of time. How am I to tell which tomes to start with!?"
Harry and Hermione watched in silence as Lupin hobbled back and forth animatedly, Gesturing wildly as he continued to babble.
"-Britain's Wizarding community is sadly lacking in the Wandless art. But I remember hearing that Africa and Australia has a higher Wandless individual rate than most countries. Perhaps because of the smaller magical population? But Africa's is bigger than Britains… Magical injuries! Erumpents in Africa often blow off limbs; it's almost a common occurrence according to the papers I've read. And the massive dragon reserves in Australia must result in some damage. I wonder if I could get in contact with a healer, ask them if the loss of a limb, or use of as the case may be, could be connected with the higher opportunity of Wandless magic-"
Harry blinked, trying to focus on the constant stream of words flowing from the professors' mouth. But found himself going cross eyed with the effort such an act required. He just keeps going. He thought with a mixture of amazement and horror. For the love of Merlin, make him stop!
Hermione on the other hand was watching her teacher brainstorm in awe.
"Oh Harry, just imagine his lectures for our NEWT!" she gasped.
Going back to class suddenly seemed much less of a treat and much more like a chore.
Harry felt decidedly ill.
6887 words, 17 pages, longest chapter yet! I'm sorry this has taken so long to update, but I've been doing school work /I'm nearing my exams, and I've got heaps majors and assignments due :'( / But! I do have a 'Led by the Spirits' chapter in the works. So hopefully my next update won't be too long away. Thank you so much for all the people who are still showing interest in this story. Everyone whose still reviewing (even if you're asking for an update-they are always a good incentive! Guilt motivates!) and all those random favs and alerts. Thankyou so much.
Hope you enjoyed! please review!