Soul of the Enemy
By Willow Spirit
Disclaimer: I only own the plot. Everything else belongs to the wonderful J. K. Rowling.
A/N:This story is set in Harry's seventh year. I will NOT be following the new developments in the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, unless of course anything fits into my plot. I started working on this story long before HBP came out. So this will be AU after OoP.
Thanks to my friends who are my wonderful beta readers! I also started posting this story before but I got a little sidetracked with school and all. So I'm re-posting this and I'm determined to get to the end. This time around I have a good head start, which should mean frequent updates.
The italics near the beginning are referring to a previous conversation.
Chapter One:A New Arrival
It was the coldest night in January, and fresh snow glistened in the moonlight of the first full moon of the New Year. No creatures were stirring in the early morning hours, except for one…but to call him a 'creature' would be most disrespectful.
Firenze, the centaur, could not sleep. Try as he may, there was something plaguing him in the back of his mind that kept him awake. That was why Firenze was currently standing outside Hogwarts, looking to the stars for answers.
The stars were always a source of comfort for the centaur. Even though he was exiled from his own kind in the Forbidden Forest, the stars were his constant link to them. All centaurs observed the stars. Firenze hoped that he could find peace in the night sky this evening.
But if peace was what he was looking for, it was not to be found. It took a moment for Firenze to examine sky, and he was almost afraid that he was reading the stars incorrectly. He had to be wrong, but then again, Firenze had always trusted his abilities to read the heavens accurately. No wonder his mind was troubled! In all his years, Firenze had never seen such a sight.
"A danger comes to Hogwarts," Firenze whispered into the dark void.
"Someone comes, bringing great danger with them."
'So how does it feel to be back to classes?'
'Oh, it's wonderful, Hagrid. These last few months are going to be so exciting! I can't wait to finally practice everything I've been reading over Christmas holiday.'
'Well, now, I knew yeh'd be happy, Hermione. What about you, Ron?"
'Well, I'm far from excited, if that's what you mean."
'How about you, Harry? Anythin' interestin' goin' on?'
'No. Not really, I suppose.'
"Harry? Is everything okay?"
'Are yeh sure?'
'Yeah, things are just … I don't know.'
'Ah, I see. Got a lot on yer mind, don't yeh? I guess that's ter be expected.'
Harry Potter was strolling along edge of the lake at Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. At the moment he wasn't very talkative. In fact, he was completely on another planet. Which was probably why his two best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, were both staring at him expectantly.
"Everything's fine, Ron," Harry sighed. Sure, those were the words that left his mouth but Harry felt anything but fine. Maybe it was because they were in their seventh year at Hogwarts. Maybe it was because he worried about finding a job after school. Or maybe Harry just wanted to live beyond his school years.
"Come on Harry. You've been even more distant lately," Hermione reasoned. "We haven't seen you this quiet in a long time. You know you can talk to us about anything."
"Yeah, Harry, you didn't even seem exited when we were talking about the next Quidditch match against the Slytherins. That always gets you going. I mean, how else can we totally beat the sh—"
"Well so sorry for trying to help," Ron muttered under his breath. "Next time I'll leave all the cheering up business to you."
Harry wanted to laugh, but his heart wasn't quite there. How could he tell them about his feelings? They couldn't understand how the world seemed to be closing in around him. Ironically, Hagrid always seemed to know when something was wrong. Got a lot on your mind, don't you? I guess that's to be expected. People really underestimated Hagrid. He was really good at reading emotions, especially Harry's.
As it was, Harry did have a lot on his mind. There was a deep, uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. Harry felt that something big was about to happen. He didn't know what it was or what it would be, but it was like a dark thundercloud looming in the distance. It could strike at any moment.
"Are you guys worried at all," Harry asked. "About what might be coming?"
"You mean our final exams," Ron said gravely. "Harry, how could you bring something like that up? It's only just after Christmas, mate. I seriously think that Hermione here has finally brainwashed you."
"That's not fair Ron," Hermione huffed. "It's never too early to think about exams. You can get a lot of work done by starting early. Although, I must admit, I think I won't be nearly as obsessive over my exams this year. I plan to hold off my studying until mid April."
"Yeah," Ron snorted. "That'll only be two months of studying. You're really letting loose this year, Hermione. Watch out Hogwarts, we have a rebel on our hands."
"No, seriously," Harry said. "Do you ever think about what might happen with Voldemort? Things were awfully quiet in the news the past few weeks. Doesn't it seem like it's the big silence before the storm?"
"Harry…" Hermione hesitated slightly. "Do you think it's good for you to be focusing so much on this? I mean, there's still other things to look after right now…"
"Oh, like studying and passing our pointless exams?"
"I think Hermione is saying you shouldn't get stuck," Ron said. "You need other stuff to do. You have to move around. Like on a broomstick, practicing for Quidditch. Speaking of which, we should really get out to the pitch someday and practice. We haven't been out all holiday."
"Sure," Harry simply nodded. "Sounds great. Can't wait."
Before Ron could even open his mouth to reply, the three teenagers heard a distant crash. It sounded suspiciously like something falling through thin ice over water. They all stopped dead in their tracks.
"What the bloody hell was that!" Ron asked. And for once Hermione didn't even scold him for swearing.
"Look!" Hermione pointed to the edge of the water. There was a girl lying face down in the water. It looked like she had broken though the icy surface. Now she was slowly drifting out of sight.
"Come on!" Harry immediately took off in the girl's direction. Hermione and Ron quickly followed.
"Let's get her out of here," Harry said as they charged straight into the cold water. "This water's nearly freezing. She'll be in big trouble if we don't get her on land."
"Right," Ron said. "You grab that arm and I'll get this one."
"Got her then?" Harry asked. "Alright then, let's move."
Harry and Ron managed to pull the soaking wet girl up onto the shoreline. She seemed much heavier and more difficult to move than expected, probably due to her wet and heavy clothes. Hermione followed anxiously behind them.
"I found this in the water," Hermione held a broomstick in her cold hands. "It was almost at the bottom of the lake. It must belong to her. But I didn't see her flying in over the lake. Wouldn't we have seen her coming?"
"I don't really know," Harry said. "Right now we need help. Ron, why don't you go and tell Madam Pomfrey to get ready. We'll bring her up to the infirmary."
"Hermione, can you help me get her on my shoulder," Harry and Hermione attempted to lay the girl over Harry's shoulder, but it wasn't really working. "I don't know how well this is going to work. She's pretty heavy. I don't think I can carry her myself."
"Well, it looks like you won't have to," Hermione was looking towards the entrance of the school. Professor Snape was quickly marching over the school grounds to meet them. And he did not have a happy look on his face (but when did Snape ever look happy?)
"What is the meaning of this Potter?" Snape snarled. "Mr. Weasley nearly knocked me over trying to get through the front entrance. He was shouting unintelligently about an emergency. Pray tell, what have you gone and done now?"
"He didn't do anything!" Hermione exclaimed. "We were only trying to help this girl. She fell into the lake."
Snape instantly stepped forward and practically pushed Harry out of the way. He sat the girl up in his arms and brushed some of her wet hair out of her face. He examined her face for a split second. "This girl is not one of ours," Snape said almost to himself. Then he laid her back down and pulled his wand out of his robe pocket. He magically conjured up a stretcher for the girl to lie on. "This girl needs to see Pomfrey. And since you two are obviously incapable of getting her there, I shall have to do it myself. I trust that you have caused enough trouble for one day, Potter."
Harry and Hermione, still soaking wet themselves, stood glaring after Snape as he floated the girl away on the stretcher. "Come on," Harry said. "Let's get to the infirmary and find Ron. We'll catch our death if we stay out here any longer."
Harry and Hermione followed Snape at a respectable distance all the way to the hospital wing. Once he disappeared inside, they ran the rest of the way and burst into room behind him.
"Poppy, we have a situation," Snape drawled. "And I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that the Terrible Trio just happened to be involved. This girl, however, is in need of your care."
"Oh my goodness!" Madam Pomfrey was currently trying to get the entire story out of Ron, but he seemed to be too excited to construct proper sentences. She waved her hand in a general direction. "Thank you so much, Severus. If you could just take her stretcher over to the bedside window, that would be wonderful. I'll look after her from…goodness, gracious me! Mr. Potter! Miss Granger! How is it that all three of you are drenched to the bone! Get over here, get over here! I want you boys to go behind that curtain over there and change out of those soaking wet robes immediately. Miss Granger, you can go to this curtain over here. Put these hospital gowns on while I attend to this girl. I'll dry your robes later but I am much too busy right now!"
The three teenagers grudgingly accepted the plain, dull hospital gowns ("But we're not sick!") Madam Pomfrey was instantly at the mystery girl's side. "I think this is a matter for the Headmaster," Pomfrey said as she began her examination.
"Quite right, Poppy," Snape took one last glaring look at the girl, who was now lying on the hospital bed. "I shall go inform Dumbledore at once. And while I'm at it," he said while casting a dark look at the other teenagers before they disappeared behind the curtains, "I think I'll ask McGonagall to come as well. She will undoubtedly want to know what her own students have been up to this afternoon. If you ask me this whole incident is very suspicious."
Hermione stuck her tongue out at Snape's retreating back. "What?" she said at looks the boys gave her. "It's not like he saw me, or anything. Besides, he deserves it for two reasons. He unfairly accused us and he called us the Terrible Trio."
"What is with her lately?" Ron muttered.
"Change into those gowns. NOW!"
Soon Harry, Hermione, and Ron were all sitting patiently on a nearby hospital bed. They carefully watched Madam Pomfrey as she fussed over her latest patient. "Oh, my poor dear," she mumbled to herself. "Looks like you've been through a lot, haven't you."
Just then, Dumbledore entered through the infirmary doors. He was closely followed by McGonagall and Snape. McGonagall headed straight for her three students. "What is going on?" she asked. "Are the three of you alright? Could someone please explain what happened?"
"Well, you see, we were walking by the lake…"
"On our way back from Hagrid's…"
"Right, and then we heard this noise…"
"And we didn't know what it was…"
"And suddenly we saw this girl in the lake…"
"So we all jumped in the water…"
"Harry and I pulled her out…"
"Hermione found a broom in the water with the girl…"
"It's right over there on the table with her other things…"
"Ron went to get help…"
"And Professor Snape came out and took her away…"
"So Harry and I came up here…"
"Alright, alright," Dumbledore patiently held up a hand to stop the lengthy story. "I think we all get the general idea. Thank you very much Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, and Miss Granger. You have again shown quick thinking and by the sound of it, you may have saved this girl's life."
Snape looked like he had swallowed a lemon. McGonagall let out a shaky breath, but there was a hint of pride in her smile, nonetheless.
"Hum, yes I do have to say that the children did help," Pomfrey agreed. "But this girl has been through quite a lot."
Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape joined Madam Pomfrey by the girl's bedside. Out of curiosity, the three students slowly approached from behind them. And for the first time, they actually got their first real look at the girl. With all the excitement going on, they hadn't been able to notice much of anything. So there they saw her, lying peacefully on the hospital bed.
She looked liked she was about their age, but they weren't quite sure. She had shoulder length hair of a dirty blond color, with several different shades of blonde and brown running through it. Since she was currently unconscious, they couldn't tell what color her eyes were. But they were really surprised at the many scrapes and cuts they saw all over her face, hands and arms.
"I've had time to perform an external examination so far," Pomfrey continued. "As you can see, it looks like this poor girl has been in fight. I found a particularly nasty cut on her abdomen. If you ask me, I'd say it came from a wand. She was probably dueling before she ended up here."
The three professors all exchanged an uneasy glance. "How long will she need to recover, Poppy?" Dumbledore asked. "If it is the case that she was indeed in a fight, I would like to ask her a few questions when she is fully ready."
"Well, as long as she doesn't have too much internal damage, I'd say she'll be awake by tomorrow evening," Pomfrey tried to be optimistic. "But her body has suffered extensive damage. I believe her injuries caused her to pass out before she arrived here in the infirmary, which perhaps would explain why she collapsed into the lake. The girl was probably riding on that broom of hers, and then fell into the water. I'll give her something to keep her asleep just to be sure. She needs rest more than anything right now."
"Indeed she does," Dumbledore nodded. "Then we shall wait until tomorrow evening to speak to our mysterious guest. Until that time, if it's alright with you Poppy, I think that everyone else here can go back to their rooms."
"Oh…I suppose," Pomfrey eyed the three students present.
"Alright, let's move along," McGonagall made little sweeping gestures towards the doors. "You three are old enough now that you don't have to be told twice."
"But we want to stay!"
"We're still in our hospital gowns!"
"I think I'm getting a fever!"
"Nonsense," McGonagall flicked her wand towards their piled robes and instantly they were dried. Dumbledore and Snape made their way out of the infirmary and they were soon joined by McGonagall. She called over her shoulder as she passed through the entrance door. "Be the responsible students I know you are and hurry back to Gryffindor."
Still grumbling minutes later, Harry, Ron, and Hermione left the infirmary themselves.
"I think you should have pushed that fever thing a bit more Ron," Harry said.
"I wanted to find out who that girl is," Ron muttered before receiving an elbow in his ribs from Hermione. "Hey! Watch it there."
"Don't be silly, Ron," Hermione scolded. "We'll find out who she is soon enough. You know we always find out everything."
"Tomorrow, then," Harry agreed. "We'll find out who she is tomorrow."
A/N: Well…? Want to see where this is going? Please review! Next chapter coming soon.
Next Chapter: Who is Hogwarts's new guest? Will she be waking up anytime soon?