A Matter of force.
The train station was bustling with activity. People milled about and rushed to board their cars all around the rather large group of wizards that moved to the entrance to the hidden platform. The Weasley family, the Potter family, the Black family, and the Humdragons were all ushering a heard of children towards the wall that would lead them to the platform that served the Hogwarts express.
"All right, all right," chimed Molly Weasley. "Come along now, heavens, we've got quite a group. We'll go in pairs now."
Harry had a grin on his face as he stood with Alex, Melvin, and Ron. Percy was in front of them smartening himself up as best he could. He kept rubbing his sleeve on his Head Boy badge as if to keep it shiny. It was already polished to a mirror like sheen.
Fred and George had gotten their hands on it, and it had said 'Big Head' at the moment. Percy didn't seem to have noticed yet. None of the younger boys seemed to want to inform him, and stifled chuckles about it on occasion.
Ginny, Pansy, and Margaret were chattering and giggling a little about it as well. Anna was with them, but seemed to be standing off a little from the rest of the group.
Margaret was giving Pansy a little scowl at the moment. "I like Hogwarts, I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to class again though. I mean, it's nice there and all, I suppose it's a bit of fun, but it's still school you know."
The brunnet scrunched up her nose. "I guess so. Still, I'm looking forward to it. Right Anna?"
The redhead glanced at her. "It's going to be a difficult year."
The pair went quiet and noticed her serious expression.
"I something wrong?" asked Ginny.
The redhead's face softened a little. "You'll be fine. I'm just worrying about things I shouldn't." She glanced at her brother.
Harry had walked up beside her. "What's with you? You've been quiet ever since you ran off with Dumbledore."
She glanced at him with her frown returning. "There's one Horcrux left, and it will be the most difficult and dangerous to destroy. This year, it will be finished."
He seemed surprised. "That's good isn't it?"
She gave a nod and didn't cheer up any. "A matter of perspective I suppose. This year will be hard on the both of us."
The boy frowned at that as she walked forward through the entrance. He went through with Melvin just after her. She had been acting strange, she hadn't spoken to him, and had told him to start training on his own. She still trained at the same time, but ever since she'd returned from her trip with Dumbledore the week before, she'd left him to his own devices. She hadn't told him he'd be fine, or not to worry, or given any reassuring words. What she'd just said to Ginny was the closest she'd come to it. That was unusual, and he'd noticed it. "Something is up with Anna, but I'm not sure what."
Melvin looked over at him. They'd just come through the other side onto the platform. It was crowded as usual. The band was all wearing disguise glasses to keep them from getting recognized. It would have made slipping into the secret entrance to the platform difficult. The black haired boy shrugged. "I'm not sure. She's not said much of anything. She's been pretty quiet lately."
"Harry! Ron!" The Potter boy smiled as he noticed Hermione waving her arm nearby.
"Hey. How have you been?" She looked much less frumpy still. Her hair had a nice shine to it and wasn't frazzled, and her skin was still clear and clean looking. Not that she looked dirty before, but it was a noticeable difference. "Enjoyed the rest of your Summer?" He'd not seen her since they'd gotten their school supplies.
"It's been all right," she gave a small shrug. "Hey, Ron."
Parvati was with her and moved up to take his arm. "Ron darling! I missed you."
The redhead seemed pleased to see her again. "Hello. It's not been that long. A couple of days. You make it sound like I've been gone for weeks or something."
"Ron, who is this?" Molly Weasley looked on from behind them.
Percy was next to her with his chest puffed out. "Huh? That's right. You've not met yet have you. That's Parvati Patil, Ron's girlfriend." He scanned the crowd and got distracted. "Oh! It's Penolope!" He rushed off to meet his own girlfriend.
The woman got wide eyed. "Girlfriend?"
Parvati smiled at her. "You must be Mrs. Weasley. It's nice to meet you."
Arthur looked at his wife with a small frown. "You didn't know? Fred and George have been teasing him about it since last year. I thought you knew about it already or I'd have said something."
Ron blushed and nodded. "We met during that mess with the Vampires at Hogwarts. She was one of the ones who was with me."
She looked at her husband. "You knew?"
He shrugged. "Sure."
The woman seemed a bit flustered. "It's nice to meet you." She didn't look entirely pleased.
Parvati took her hand with a bit of caution. She seemed to notice the slightly dark look in her eyes. "Yes. He saved my life. We've been together ever since."
Harry chuckled at the scene as Ron took the opportunity to pull his girlfriend away. "Don't worry about her, she's...overprotective I guess."
Parvati gave a nod. "I see. I'll meet her again. I hope I make a good impression."
"Man, poor guy," commented Melvin.
Alex shrugged. "He could do worse. She's cute, even if she's a little scary."
Harry gave a nod. "Come on, we should find a seat before it gets too crowded." He noticed Neville standing nearby with his Grandmother. "Hey! Neville! Over here!" He dragged the other two boys over with him.
"Harry. It's good to see you!" said the boy as he saw him run up. He seemed flushed and surprised.
The Potter boy grinned at him. "Come sit with us then? We're going to find ourselves a compartment."
"Can I?" asked the rotund boy with wide eyes.
"Sure, come on then." He looked up at his Grandmother. "Hello. It's good to see you again, Mrs. Longbottom."
The woman gave him a small smile and chuckled. "You as well, Mr. Potter." He was certainly enthusiastic, and it was good to see Neville was making friends. He was such an awkward boy, and got picked on a little. He always spoke highly of Harry though, and from what she'd heard, the boy looked after him.
Anna looked up at her mother as she took her by the shoulders. "All right dear. Try to stay out of trouble?"
Pansy and Margaret were standing nearby.
James winked at her. "Yes. Do try to not start any wars this year?"
The redhead gave a weak smile. "Yeah. I'll see you at the Holidays." She turned and left with her friends to board.
"Anna!" called Cedric as they started to get on. "Hey, I've got us a seat." He jogged up and grinned at her.
She gave a smile in return. "Hey, thanks." She took his arm as he pulled her on board. "It's on this car. Come on."
The girls all followed after them and piled into the car where Lee Jordan was sitting. "Lee!" said Margaret as she almost skipped over to sit with him.
Pansy's face fell a little. She'd never seen the girl act like that before.
"Hey, babe," said the tall black boy as he put his arm around her. "I see you've found them." He glanced over at Cedric.
Ginny looked around. "Have you seen Marci?"
Cedric nodded. "She's four doors back. She's got a seat saved for you already."
"Okay. See you later," said the redhead as she turned to meet her friend.
"She's a cute kid," commented Cedric.
Anna leaned into him a little. "Hey. I won't be able to hang out with anyone much this year. I don't want to seem like I'm pushing you guys away."
Everyone in the compartment looked at her. Lee was the only one who's face didn't fall a little.
Anna gave them a weak smile. "There's something I have to do this year. It's going to keep me pretty busy, and I'm afraid I won't have much time to hang out."
"We'll help then," said Pansy.
"Of course," agreed Margaret.
Anna smiled at them. "No. I have to do this on my own. I don't want you guys to worry, or think that I don't want to hang round you or anything. I just, can't this year. It's very important, and no can help me. I can't really say what it is, but...I'd rather none of you got involved."
Cedric frowned at her. "What? That sounds a bit strange."
Margaret narrowed her eyes at her a little. "What's with you? You've been depressing today."
Pansy nodded. "Yeah, you make it sound like someone is going to die or something. You've been really quiet. Every time that happens, there's all sorts of trouble."
She nodded. "This time, it's trouble of a personal sort. I'll...I'll deal with it. There isn't really anything any of you can do to help me out. Not this time. It's going to have my attention for a while, and I don't want you to think I've forgotten about you or anything. It's, really important though, and I've got to do it. It won't last forever, but...I'm not going to have much time to hang out this year. I just wanted to let all of you know while I had the chance."
Cedric shook a little. "I see." He wasn't sure what to make of it. He certainly didn't like the way it sounded, but it seemed to be why she was looking so depressed. "Well, we're all together now. You should enjoy it while it lasts."
The redhead gave a nod. She didn't look it, but she was near to tears. "I wish I could," she thought to herself.
As Harry boarded the train, they found a very strange sight. Luna Lovegood was standing off against a tall dark haired girl from Hufflepuff. They were glaring at each other in the middle of the train with serious expressions. Several students looked on from their seats.
"Pickachu! I choose you!" cried the blond girl.
"Butterfree! Go!" chimed the other as they both opened small round red and white balls in their hands. Each girl was wearing a bet with about ten of the balls on them.
"What on earth?" muttered Harry in confusion.
Two animals appeared out of the balls. One a giant butterfly, the other the yellow rodent creature Luna had been showing off.
Ron looked at him. "You haven't heard about this?"
"About what?" The rodent sent a few electric sparks at the butterfly thing. It was shocked, and fluttered about in the air. After the initial attack, it fluttered over the rodent and shook some sort of dust at it. The yellow thing fell to the ground asleep, and the butterfly rammed into it with it's head.
"Drat!" cried Luna as she pointed her ball at the rodent. It was pulled back into the ball. "I summon, Squirtle!"
A small turtle like thing with a squirrel like tail appeared from the next ball she pulled off her belt. "Squirtle!" it cried as it raised it's arms and stood on it's hind legs.
"No. Should I have?" muttered Harry as the turtle thing shot a jet of water out of it's mouth and sent the butterfly thing to the ground.
The dark haired girl pulled it back into a ball and hung her head. "Drat. Another time Lovegood."
Luna put her fist into the air. "Ha! I am the world's leading expert on Pokemon! The true Pokemon Master!"
The redhead tipped his hat back. "They're saying it's on it's way to being more popular than Battlemage. All sorts of people are getting into those things. Your sister..."
Harry put his face in his hand. "Right. I should have known. She's the one selling those little balls?"
Melvin nodded. "Yeah." There were a lot of students wearing belts with them on them on the train. "It's a bit weird, she doesn't have any Pokemon of her own, but she manufactures and sells the equipment. Those little computer things they use too, and some sort of candies for the animals. There's some sort of device you put the balls in that heals them as well. There's a couple of special Gyms and Centers with those machines she's building in a couple of places."
Harry hung his head. "Really?"
Neville grinned. "I've got one as well. It's called a Bulbasaur."
They found a compartment that was mostly empty and paused. There was an adult sitting in it, one Harry was familiar with. "Uncle..."
The man grinned at him. "I'm afraid it's Professor Lupin from now on Harry." He was dressed in neat and pressed clothes, and had a new looking trunk poking out from under his seat. He looked tired and yawned a little.
The brunette boy scratched his head. "Oh. Right. Sorry. Habit I guess." The group climbed into the car with them. He noticed the man was not dressed as shabbily as he'd seen him in the past. "New clothes?"
The man gave a tired grin. "Afina has been spoiling me."
"Who is this?" asked Neville in confusion.
Ron recognized him. "He's Harry's Uncle, right?"
"Right. We've met a few times briefly," commented Hermione.
The man gave a nod. "Well, I'm an old friend of his parents. I'm not actually related."
Harry looked over at Neville. "He's the new Defense Against Dark Arts teacher. Professor Lupin."
"Oh." Neville sounded a little nervous after hearing it. "It's nice to meet you."
Alex sat down across from the man. "Right. I remember you. You were at Harry and Anna's birthday party."
The man nodded. "Yes. Alex Hundragon right? I've heard about you as well."
The youngest of the boys smiled at him. "Yeah. I'm his son." He still had a lipstick mark on his cheek from when he'd said goodbye to his mother.
"A pleasure," muttered the man sleepily. "Forgive me, I think I'm going to nap on the way." He settled down and took off his coat, rolling it up to use as a pillow as he leaned against the window.
The children all settled in talking together, but keeping it at a low volume to not disturb the sleeping man. Within a few moments, the train started to move, and their trip to Hogwarts began.
Hermione looked out the window from her seat for a few moments. "Harry, that man has been all over the papers. Pettigrew, no one knows how he escaped from Azkaban. There have been no leads either."
The boy nodded. "I'm not worried about him much. I'd rather not run into him, but I doubt he'll be much trouble for us. He's a bit of a coward, and I don't think he'd get anywhere near Dumbledore, or Anna for that matter."
The girl scowled a little at that. "I see. Still, we should be on guard. Someone has tried to kill you every year so far. I'm kind of glad Professor Lupin is teaching this year. We know for sure he won't."
Ron gave a snort. "Maybe it's Snape's turn. He hates him."
Harry shook his head. "I doubt it. I don't expect him to be any nicer, but I don't think he's got any interest in seeing me dead."
"Who's this Snape?" asked Alex.
Ron rolled his eyes. "He's the meanest teacher at Hogwarts. I wouldn't go bragging that you're Harry's son around him. He's the head of Slytherin, and he doesn't like Harry at all, or anyone else for that matter, except maybe Malfoy."
"Malfoy?" inquired the boy.
"He's a student in our year. You'd best avoid him. He's a bully, and nothing but trouble," said Hermione. She glanced at Ron. "Where did Parvati go?"
The boy glanced at her. "Huh? She said she wanted to sit with her sister. They don't see much of each other at school. I'll see her again when we get there."
Harry arched his eyebrow. "I guess I can understand that. They've got a few classes together this year though. Shouldn't be too bad."
Hermione gave a shrug. She was the only girl in the compartment. It didn't bother her, but it was nice to have another girl around. She was constantly outnumbered by boys since she started attending Hogwarts. "Oh. Well, I'm looking forward to visiting Hogsmeade this year. They say it's the largest and only all wizarding settlement in Britain."
"Yeah. I think," said Ron nonchattingly.
"I've been there a few times. I'm looking forward to visiting a few of the shops myself." He smiled at her.
Ron smirked. "Yeah. Have you been to Honey Dukes?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah. I was planning on stopping by there."
"What's that?" asked Hermione with a confused frown.
"Only the best sweets shop you'll ever see," replied Alex with a grin on his face. He looked towards Harry and Ron. "I can get you to pick up a few things for me when you go?"
Neville looked pleased. "Right. I'm surprised Gran signed my permission slip so I could go."
Harry smiled at him. "Right. We'll all hang about together when we go."
Alex's face fell a little. "I wish I could go."
His Dad glanced at him. "Well, I'm afraid there's not much we can do for you. I'll pick you up a few things. You know what you want right?"
The boy nodded and cheered up a bit. "Yeah. I'll make you a list before you go."
It began to rain as the train moved towards the countryside. The children continued to chat, Neville showed off his pokemon. It was a squat looking creature that looked like it was part plant. There were two vine like tentacles on it's back and a flower like growth on it's back. It looked a bit like a small dinosaur despite it's plant like traits. He put it away after the group had a good look. Harry bought a load of sweets and passed them around as well.
The rain grew worse as they lounged about inside the compartment. Harry froze up suddenly with wide eyes, the boy clutched at his chest. "Huh?" He felt something, something horrible, and familiar.
Hermione was the first to notice. "Harry! Are you all right?"
"Hey. What's up?" said Ron as he became alert.
The Potter boy looked up at him. "I...feel something...bad." As soon as the words left his mouth the train started to slow down.
"Great." Ron stood up. "I'm looking forward to the feast. I'm starved."
"We're nowhere near Hogwarts," said Hermione. The window outside was black and there was no visibility.
Ron furrowed his brow. "Then why have we stopped?"
Harry remained in his seat with his hand on his chest. "Azkaban..."
Hermione looked confused. "What?"
The lights went out plunging them all into darkness, a moment later a soft hum and a low blue light lit the compartment for them. Harry had his lightsaber extended to wand length.
"Thanks," muttered Ron as he moved back to his seat. He'd almost stepped on Hermione.
"What's going on?" muttered Alex as he glanced around. His eyes fell on Harry's wand. "Whoa! That's the coolest thing I've ever seen. What is that thing?"
His father glanced at him. "My wand. Quiet down, there's something boarding the train."
Hermione gave a nod. "I think I saw someone outside."
"Ron! There you are, what's going on?" said Ginny as she fumbled her way to the door. Marci was beside her looking pensive.
"It all went dark," muttered the blond girl.
"Come inside," said Hermione as she pulled them in. "Sit down all right. We're not sure what's going on. We've stopped."
Lupin was awake. "Pipe down kids." He looked alert and noticed Harry's wand. "Keep that thing in check."
The children all went stone cold quiet. "What?" muttered Harry. He went stark white, and a cold sweat formed on his brow.
Something had just appeared in the doorway. It was wearing a tattered black cloak, and gripping the doorway with it's hand. The skin was pale, clammy, slimy looking, and scabbed. As if it had drowned to death weeks before and just crawled from the water.
Harry set himself and looked at it with wide eyes. He put his wand up and extended to blade length as he held it between them. He was shaking terribly, gasping for breath. His eyes became unfocused as a scream sounded in his head, but it was distant. "Focus. Peace." He closed his eyes and felt his muscles become relaxed. Sensing the darkness in front of him. "Get back." He said in a commanding voice.
There was a hiss as the thing moved closer.
"I said get back!" commanded the boy again. He took a step forward and opened his eyes.
The dementor raised it's hand and paused.
The boy glared at it. "None of us is hiding Pettigrew in here. Now go! I won't ask again."
Lupin was looking on with wide eyes.
The dementor seemed to consider it, turned it's head to scan the compartment, and backed away into the shadows of the hall again.
Harry let out a breath, his wand shut down, and he fell to one knee gasping for breath. His hand went up to his chest, and his heart was pounding. He had one hand holding his torso off the ground, and he felt very weak. "That thing...it..."
A silvery light filled the compartment. Remus was looking down at Harry. The man had one hand filled with a grayish flame, and took him by the shoulder with the other. "Come on boy, have a seat." He took out a large bar or chocolate and began to snap it inside the wrapper with his free hand after he got him up.
The other children were silent and looked shocked. "What was that thing?" muttered Hermione in horror.
"A dementor," replied Ron. He looked a bit pale himself. He was rasping a little, but not on the same level as Harry. "I've never seen one before."
Remus handed him half the chocolate bar, and gave Harry the other. He slapped the Potter boy on his shoulder. "You did very well to stand against that thing the way you did." He glanced at Ron and smirked. "You as well, I thought you were going to pass out."
The redhead nodded. His head had become filled with familiar screams he'd hoped he'd never hear again. The tormented in hell had echoed through his mind again.
"Both of you, eat that. It will help." Remus stood up and looked about the compartment. The other children were frightened, but Ron and Harry were clearly the most effected.
Harry munched on his. "I've been to Azkaban, not inside, but...I felt the presence of those things. Very unpleasant." His heart ached a little at the thought of what it must have been like for Sirius Black.
"You all, wait here. I've got to talk with the driver." Remus started to stand up.
Harry dropped his bar of chocolate on his seat and jumped up. "Anna! What?"
"Harry! Wait!" called the man as he tried to grab him before he rushed out into he hall. He stumbled after the boy and moved after him as he rushed down the hall away from the engine. "Where is...what on earth?"
Anna was sitting and chatting with her friends when the lights went dark. They had managed to cheer her up a little, but she was still quiet and reserved. She was leaning against her boyfriend's chest and looked almost like she was napping.
"What's going on?" muttered Pansy in confusion.
"Are we there yet?" Lee commented.
"I doubt it. It's kind of romantic though," said Margaret softly. There was a wet smacking sound a moment later.
Pansy gave a sigh. "Whatever. I can't see anything, and it's too soon for us to be at Hogwarts."
"We're nowhere near it," said Anna. She stood up.
"Hey, are you going somewhere?" asked Cedric.
The compartment was bathed in a red light a moment later. "Something just got on the train."
"Not again," grumbled Cedric. "What is it this time? Zombies or Werewolves?"
His girlfriend shook her head. "No. Dementors. They're looking for Pettigrew." Her voice sounded cold and hard. "Wait here."
"Where are you going?" said Pansy in confusion.
"Just stay in there. I'll be fine, and you don't want to meet them." The girl looked back over her shoulder with a scowl on her face. Her wand was in her hand at blade length.
"Hey, Anna, we should all stay here," said Cedric as he poked his head out.
Pansy was behind him with her hand over her mouth. She looked shocked and confused. "Anna?" She'd never seen an expression like that on the girl's face. She looked more than just angry.
"Get back in there and sit down." Her voice was commanding and cold. "I've got something to say to these...things."
Cedric jolted a little. "You don't look like you're planning on just talking to them."
She turned away. "I'm not so foolish as to attack them. They're here representing the Ministry. Just get back inside and wait. I'll be...just fine." She had a hint of cruel amusement in her voice as she started walking down the hall.
"Potter, where are you going? We need..." started Percy's voice as he noticed him walking by his own compartment and moved out to try and pull her out of the hall.
She put her hand up and he reacted as if he'd run into a wall. The girl continued past him, and he stepped out after she'd gone by rubbing at his forehead. He was confused and disoriented.
"Hey, Potter...that will cost you House Points if you don't have a good..." He trailed off and staggered back, fumbling for his wand. The older boy ended up on his rear and finally grasped it, shoving it forward with a shaking hand.
Three tall dark hooded figures loomed over the girl. Another was moving up behind them. The things surrounded the girl. Everyone nearby was looking on in horror at the scene. The hooded figures all surrounded her, looking down at her as she stood among them without fear.
She snapped at them. "Why are you wasting time? That scum is not fool enough to be so near me. He knows what I will do if I find him." She glared at them all and looked around.
The creatures all bowed their heads and moved back a little. There wasn't a lot of room in the hall. Anna walked up to the fourth. "You're in charge of this group are you?" She hissed at it and put her hand on it's chest. A mad grin crossed her face. She took the thing by it's cold clammy hand.
"Anna!" called her brother's voice from down the hall.
"Harry! Wait...what the?" cried another familiar voice. Remus staggered up behind her brother.
The girl turned to look at the pair, and the slid to a halt. Both of them looked completely shocked.
She was holding the creature by the hand in a gentle manner. With her other hand she reached up into the cloak and caressed it's face in the shadows.
It leaned down towards her, moving it's face close to hers.
The others bowed even deeper, seeming to lean in towards her. The Dementors were excited and clawed their hands at her. Each brushing their hands across her body. It was as if they were not certain she was real. They gave low cold hissing noises in quick repetition.
The girl spoke in a sickly sweet tone as she caressed the lead dementor's face. "When you find him, make sure you give him a big kiss for me." He laughed in a cruel way that was not quite a giggle. "What?" she replied to something no one else could hear. "Forget about them. I ask this of you. Give in to your desire, and take him. He's such a pathetic creature anyway. They won't be very upset."
The thing stood tall as her hand fell away. It seemed to consider it and nodded, giving a small bow as it did so. The others all appeared to be bowing to her, on one knee before her as they hissed and reveled in excitement.
"What the hell?" muttered Harry. His jaw was hanging and his eyes were wide.
"I have no idea," replied Remus in the same manner. What he was seeing was impossible.
The dementors all turned towards Harry. The boy took a staggering step back. "N-no..."
His sister spoke to them. "Leave my brother alone. I know he's tempting, but you've got other concerns. Leave this place, you'll not find that scum here. I assure you, if he was anywhere near here, I'd have found him and destroyed him myself."
The things all turned towards her and hissed.
"I'd rather you found him. I do hope I get the opportunity to watch if you kiss him. Doubtful, but I'll settle for hearing word of it if I must. Now, off with you. Pettigrew is not so stupid as to draw to near to me. He knows what awaits him if I find him." She gave the leader a gentle shove.
The thing turned, bowed it's head a little, and slid towards the nearest exit, along with the others.
Anna turned and looked at Remus and Harry. Without a word, she strolled back to her seat.
"Anna..." called Harry in a weak voice. "What?"
She paused and didn't look back. "I told you before, I am Sith. Those creatures, they are of the Dark Side of the Force, and I am a Master of the Dark Side. I can control them as easily as I controlled the Dursleys. Go back to your seat, the excitement here has ended for now."
Harry stepped forward. "Anna wait! What? What is this? What's wrong with you?"
Remus grabbed his shoulder almost as a reflex. He did not want to draw any nearer to the girl, it was instinctual more than something he considered. "Anna?"
"There's nothing wrong with me. I am as I should be." She continued on her way.
Lupin looked at Harry. "Are...are you sure that's your sister?" He'd never seen anything like that, and he almost didn't recognize the girl.
Harry frowned at him and balled up his fist. "No. No I'm not." He hung his head. Anna had calmed down again. She turned back into her compartment and left them both standing there.
The man looked confused. "What?"
Harry rubbed at his scar as a reflex. "It's nothing. She's been acting weird lately."
The man stood up. "Harry, that was more than just weird."
"I know. I'm going back. I just...I don't know. I don't know what to say, and I don't know what to make of that. She's..." He glanced towards where she'd gone. "...I don't know."
The man nodded. "All right. Go back to your seat. I'm going to have words with the conductor."
Harry was walking at a sluggish pace. He paused as a familiar voice spoke up. "Well, how does it feel to know you're all alone, Potter?" Draco Malfoy was giving him a smirk as he leaned against the door of his own compartment. Crabbe and Goyle both gave crude laughs at that. "Shut up," growled Malfoy as he looked back to glare at them. They both went silent very quickly.
Harry glanced at him and said nothing. He continued on his way to his seat.
Malfoy moved up beside him keeping pace. "You know what needs to be done."
The Boy Who Lived stopped and frowned at him.
The blond had a cocky grin on his face. "Aw, what's with that look, Potter? You know exactly what I mean."
"Do I?" muttered Harry as his eyes turned to the ground.
"If she's not destroyed, she'll kill us both eventually. You could say the same of me, but really, which of us is really the bigger threat?" He had a dark grin on his face. "I can help you. I'm the only option you've got. You don't really think that mudblood and a Weasley are going to do you any good, do you?"
Harry looked at the weapon that was still in his hand. He frowned and then hooked it back onto his belt. "I don't trust you."
Draco nodded. "You don't trust her either, do you? Not anymore. Not after that."
The Potter boy turned his eyes away. "I've no plans to destroy her."
Malfoy clicked his tongue and turned away to go back to his own seat. "Well, when you change your mind, I'll be around. I don't think you're so stupid as to not realize that at the moment, I'm the lesser evil."
Harry looked back at him. "Are you?"
Draco put his hands into his pockets. "Maybe not. Still. I think you'll be considering my offer."
Potter shook his head. "No. If I must face her, I will do it alone. I have no need of your help, Malfoy. I'm not a fool. You want both of us dead."
The blond boy frowned a little but continued walking. "Suit yourself. I'll be around if you change your mind." He waved his hand over his shoulder as he turned back into his compartment.
A moment later, Harry stepped into his own. The lights had come back on, and the train was moving again. He slumped down and gave a sigh while hanging his head.
Everyone looked concerned. "Harry, are you all right?" asked Hermione.
"Jeez, you're a mess," commented Melvin with a concerned frown of his own.
The boy looked up at her and forced a smile. "That took a lot out of me. I'll be fine. I just need to rest a bit."
"What happened?" asked Alex. Ginny and Marci looked concerned as well.
"I'd rather not talk about it," replied the boy. A hunk of chocolate landed in his lap.
Ron shook his shoulder from the seat across. "Hey. Eat that. Professor Lupin was right, it helps."
Harry nodded as he broke a chunk off and shoved it into his mouth.
"I feel so depressed," grumbled Melvin as he put his hand on his stomach. "Those things are awful."
The redhead tugged on the brim of his hat. "Never though I'd find something I hate more than spiders."
Neville looked confused. "You're afraid of spiders?"
"He's not afraid of anything!" snapped Ginny a little crossly.
The large boy flushed. "Sorry, I didn't mean anything by it."
Ron gave him a weak smile. "Not really. I don't like them though, the give me the shivers. All those legs, and the way they move is just disgusting to me."
Neville seemed to consider that and nodded. "Yeah. I'm the same way with Slugs. They aren't scary, but they're gross."
Lupin walked back into the compartment. "All right. We'll be at Hogwarts in ten minutes." Ginny and Marci made for the door, but the man stopped them. "Hold on. Everyone will be needing some chocolate. It will help with the effects of the dementors." He pulled another bar out of his pocket and handed it out. "All right then. You should all get ready. We'll be arriving shortly."
Harry looked sullen and tired, but still seemed to have plenty of energy despite it. Lupin noticed. "Everything all right then, Harry?"
The boy looked up at him. "I'm not sure. I'm not ill or anything, but I guess I've got a lot on my mind."
Remus nodded. "Try not to overdo it." He patted his shoulder and started gathering his own things.
Anna went back to her compartment and sat down.
"What happened?" asked Pansy. "We're moving again."
The redhead shook her head. "It's nothing. There were a few dementors on the train. They seem to think Pettigrew might have sneaked on board. They're gone now, everything is fine. We'll be arriving shortly."
Percy appeared in the doorway. "Potter. What just happened?"
She looked back at him. "I can control them, call it a gift."
His eyes went wide. "What?"
Cedric frowned at the boy. "Everything seems fine to me."
Percy returned his frown. "All right. I'll forget about it this time, Potter. Try something like that again, and it will cost you House Points."
She nodded and sat down with her boyfriend. "I'll remember that."
He narrowed his eyes a little. "Good."
"What was that about?" asked Cedric.
Margaret looked annoyed with the Gryffindor Head Boy as well. "What a jerk."
"I brushed him off in the hall. Don't worry about it." She leaned into her boyfriend's chest again. "Well be there in a few minutes."
Cedric jolted a little and put his arm around her. "Anna, you're freezing!"
She scrunched up her face a little. "I'm fine. Just an after effect of getting too near to those things. Very unpleasant creatures."
He rubbed on her arm. "Well, try to warm up a bit before we get there. You could catch cold."
She closed her eyes and relaxed a little more. "I'll be fine. It's not uncomfortable or anything."
Harry Potter got off the train and looked around. He was feeling better, but still had a bit of a frown on his face.
"First years, o'er ere," called Hagrid.
"Woah, that guy is huge," muttered Alex.
His father gave him a gentle shove. "Go on, you'll be fine. You'll like Hagrid. He teaches Care of Magical Creatures."
The half giant waved at them. "You three all right then?"
Harry, Ron, and Hermione all waved back. Melvin walked up behind them and looked around at the crowd with his hands in his pockets.
The first years were looking a bit nervous, but a lot of them were looking back at the three boys and having trouble paying attention to Hagrid. Alex wandered into the group and looked a bit pensive himself.
Neville scratched his head. "I guess we should go find a carriage then?"
The Potter boy gave a nod. "Yeah." He was distracted as his eyes scanned the crowd for Anna.
They moved up to the wrought iron carriages and climbed inside. Neville, Ron, Hermione, Melvin, and Harry all squeezed into one together. The Boy Who Lived could sense there was a horse spirit pulling them along, and could almost, but not quite see it. It kept his attention for part of the way. As they approached the great gates, with pillars with winged boars on either side, he felt a chill run down his spine. Two more towering dementors were guarding it on either side. He sank into his seat and shivered.
"I hate those things," grumbled Ron as he did much the same thing. "I feel light headed around them." He had his eyes squeezed shut and looked a bit pale. The smell of damp straw within the carriage didn't help any, but it passed and both boys felt much better after passing the gates.
They disembarked on a path that lead to the great oak doors into Hogwarts. The air was chilled and damp, causing the students to swarm up to enter. Most of the students had their cloaks pulled tight.
Draco Malfoy stepped out of his own carriage with a smirk on his face as he glanced at Harry. "You all right there, Potter? You look a bit pale. You as well, Weasley."
The pair gave him a small scowl. "Didn't know you cared, Malfoy," commented Ron.
The blond boy kept grinning. "Oh, I don't. It's fun to watch you both squirm though." He looked up and smiled as Professor Lupin stepped out of the carriage behind them.
"Is there a problem?" asked the man.
"No," replied Malfoy without a hint of fear. "We've not seen each other since last year. Just a friendly greeting." He turned away and moved off towards the gates flanked by his two lackeys. Both of the larger boys seemed confused at his behavior. "I didn't mean that you idiots," he grumbled at them.
Remus looked at Harry. "A friend of yours?"
The boy didn't look very upset. "Call it a rivalry I suppose. Nothing I can't handle."
The teacher nodded. "Fair enough. Come on then, this weather is dreadful. You two hurry up and get inside."
They entered the hall together, Harry still hadn't seen Anna. He couldn't sense her in the crowd, which struck him as odd. He wasn't worried or overly concerned by it, she could take care of herself, and he didn't sense danger. "Maybe something to do with the dementors?" he muttered out loud.
"Huh?" said Melvin in confusion.
His friend looked at him. "It's nothing. Just thinking out loud."
"Potter, Granger, Weasley, a word with the four of you. Yes, I mean you as well, Annabelle," called Professor McGonagall's voice.
The four of them all looked towards it at the same time. Harry blinked as he looked over his shoulder and saw his sister standing with her usual group of friends a short distance behind them.
They all walked up to the woman and she looked at them sternly. Harry didn't get the impression they were in trouble. "Come along, to my office."
The group moved after her. She motioned for them all to sit down. "Professor Lupin sent word that you two boys took ill on the train."
Harry nodded and started to reply. Ron looked a bit flushed. "It's not like we passed out or anything. Just got a bit light headed."
A knock at the door prevented the teacher from paying attention to Ron. It opened and Madam Pomfrey walked into the room. "Oh. This group again? Nothing broken I hope, it's good to see they're all conscious at least."
McGonagall nodded. "It was the dementors, Poppy." The two women exchanged a dark look.
Pompfrey clucked her tongue at it. "Setting dementors around a school. They won't be the first ones to collapse."
Anna frowned a bit more at it. "We're all fine, none of us collapsed."
McGonagall narrowed her eyes at the girl and frowned. "Yes. I'd heard."
The nurse looked the two boys over. "Oh, they're all clammy. The effect they can have on people who are already delicate."
Harry cracked a small grin at that. "Delicate?"
Ron looked annoyed. "What do you mean delicate?"
Hermione giggled at the reactions a little. A look from McGonagall silenced her chuckles though. "Have a look at the girl as well. The word is she actually touched one of those horrid things."
Pomfrey guffawed at that. "What? They put their hands on one of the students?"
The redhead shook her head. "No. I touched it. I can control them. They are mindless, they act in instinct alone, they ministry can control them to a limited extent, but they're just puppets in rags to me. Weak willed, and subservient." She spoke in an even tone and didn't smile. "I don't need any medical attention. Professor Lupin already gave Harry and Ron some chocolate. They should be fine. I had a bit of my own, I knew it was coming anyway." She did, but she hadn't seen the need to bother with eating it. "I hope they find that rat, but I'm certain he's not stupid enough to go poking his nose about here. He wouldn't dare get so close to Professor Dumbledore, and he knows I'm here."
The two women went quiet and both looked at her. McGonagall's lips were tense and she gave a nod that the children barely noticed. "I see." She cleared her throat. "That is precisely the concern."
The redhead gave a humorless chuckle. "They think he might want revenge? How foolish, he knows what I'll do to him if we meet again. He's not so stupid, and far too cowardly to try. He's terrified of me, with good reason. Hogwarts is the last place he'd dare draw near."
"I suggest that you take care young lady," said the teacher firmly. "I won't put up with such speech from a student. You should be concerned with your studies, not finding some criminal. Vigilantes are not looked upon with kind eyes by the Ministry."
The girl gave a nod. "You misunderstood me. I have no desire to find him. I wouldn't be bothered with chasing him about. He'll avoid me, there is no danger of him trying to sneak into the school, especially now that his secret is out. He can't hide as a rat anymore. The dementors here are useless, and a waste of resources. They would be better served searching elsewhere, rather than guarding the last place that fool would dare set foot in."
Hermione frowned at her. If she wanted to get herself into trouble.
Pomfrey didn't look pleased, but nodded. "I suppose I can agree with that. Horrible things, no place here at all."
Harry was looking at her, but remained silent. Hermione looked nervous and felt a bit out of place. Ron seemed to agree with her. "She's right, Scabbers is a worthless coward. I had him for long enough to know that much about him."
McGonagall gave a small sigh. "Very well." She looked at the nurse. "What do they need? A night of bed rest?"
The woman shook her head. "They should all have some chocolate at least."
"Had some already. Professor Lupin gave it to us on the train," replied Ron.
Hermione nodded. "Yes. He gave a bit to all of us."
Pomfrey looked impressed. "Well, it's nice to know we've another decent teacher in the position. I was worried Miss Amanar would be difficult to replace."
McGonagall gave a nod. She kept in contact with the woman since she left. They had become friends during her tenure, and she was aware of the relationship between the pair. "She spoke highly of him. I think we'll be all right." The woman looked at the students. "You three, wait outside. I'd like to have a word with Miss Granger in private."
Madam Pomfrey went back into the hall with them and went towards the Hospital Wing immediately muttering to herself and looking pensive and cross about the creatures.
The trio walked outside the office. Harry looked at his sister. "What's up with you?"
"I'm doing what I must. No more." She didn't look at him and spoke in a matter of fact tone. "Concern yourself with your own troubles. I told you already, it's going to be a difficult year, and you can't afford to worry about me."
Ron didn't speak up and frowned as she moved a few steps away from them. It was clear she wasn't interested in talking. "You two have a row or something?"
"Not that I know of," replied Harry. "I'm not sure what's up with her. It's been bugging me for a while now."
"Maybe...it's...you know?" Ron whispered as he leaned in. "That time for girls..."
Harry shook his head. "It's been going on for too long. This isn't something so simple as that I'm afraid."
Hermione came out looking pleased. The boys noticed as she almost skipped up to them. "All right then."
A short time later, McGonagall left them in front of the doors to the Great Hall. They went in together and Anna moved off to her own house table. She sat with her own group and seemed to wave off questions with a few comments. None of her friends looked insulted or upset with her answer.
Hermione noticed all the seats were filled. "Oh. We've missed the Sorting!" She looked a little disappointed.
"Well, there's nothing to be done about it, come on." Harry motioned for them to follow. He paused as he noticed Alex sitting with the Gryffindor first years and stopped long enough to pat his shoulder and give him a grin and a wink.
"See, I told you. He's my Dad," said the boy's voice from behind him.
Harry's head slumped a little at that. "Great. I suppose the whole school will know soon."
Hermione scowled. "Maybe we can whip something up to shut him up about it?"
Ron frowned as he glanced over his shoulder. "It must be annoying." He was on the other side of the table moving towards where his girlfriend was sitting.
Harry nodded. "I suppose it is a little. Still, let him be. I did it, and I should own up to it. He's my son, and it wouldn't be right for me to shirk any responsibility for it or deny it."
Parvati and Neville had both saved their spots with the third years.
Ron and Harry plopped down across from each other. Hermione smiled at the dark skinned girl. Harry glanced down the table, he got several waves and awed looks from younger students further down. The second years were used to him and gave him friendly silent greetings. The first years were mostly wide eyed, and Ron was getting looks from them as well. The Boy Who Lived noticed a lot of first years were craning their necks about the hall to get a look at Ron and himself. Anna and the rest of the band as well. There were younger Slytherin students almost standing up on the bench to get a good look at her.
"Great. It's almost time to eat. I'm starved," muttered Ron.
Professor Dumbledore stood up as McGonagall took her seat at the staff table. Hagrid gave him a small wave as he caught his eye and winked from his own seat. He looked quite pleased and proud to be sitting there with the other staff as a teacher. Harry smiled at that and seemed to relax. He felt better being at Hogwarts, and sitting in the Great Hall to start another year seemed to lift a great weight from his shoulders.
"Welcome. I have a few announcements to make before we are all befuddled by our excellent feat." He looked about the room and his smile faded a little. "As I'm sure most of you are aware. The school is presently playing host to some dementors of Azkaban, who are here on Ministry business." He cleared his throat and gripped the podium a little tighter. Harry took note of it and realized he was most displeased with it. Most of the staff seemed to be of that mindset, even Professor Snape expressed mild annoyance at the announcement. "They are stationed at every entrance to the grounds. While they are with us, I wish to make plain that no one is to leave without permission. Dementors will not be fooled by tricks or disguises, or even Invisibility Cloaks. "It is not in the nature of a dementor to understand pleading or excuses. I therefore warn each and every one of you to give them no reason to harm you. I look to the prefects, and our new Head Boy and Girl, to make sure that no student runs afoul of the dementors,"
Percy puffed out his chest and looked about from a few rows down. Ron rolled his eyes, and Fred and George snickered at him. This earned the twins a small frown from their older brother, and the calmed. Lee Jordan was with the pair, and put his hand over his mouth.
"On a lighter note, I would like to welcome our two new teachers to our ranks this year." Dumbledore's smile returned. "Professor Lupin, who has generously agreed to take the position of Defense Against Dark Arts this year."
Harry's group all gave a great cheer, as well as a small section of Slytherin's table. The rest of the room was a bit tepid, and seemed confused at the two small groups enthusiastic cheer.
Ron smirked a little afterwards. "Look at Snape."
Harry noted the man was glaring daggers at the new teacher, and did not look pleased to have him there one bit. He narrowed his eyes a bit at it. The man was giving him more than a look of dislike, it was loathing, hatred was coming off of him in waves. He was a little surprised at it, there was jealousy as well, but Snape was very upset with him for something. "I wonder what that's about?"
Dumbledore continued. "As to our second new appointment. It pains me to inform you that our Care of Magical Creatures teacher, Professor Kettleburn, has elected to retire to spend more time with his remaining limbs. However, I am delighted to say that his position will be filled by our own Rubeus Hagrid, who will be taking the position along with his gamekeeping duties."
Once again, there was an excited cheer. Much larger than Professor Lupin's from the tables. Most of Slytherin gave tepid applause, but Hagrid was well known amongst most of the Houses, and the news was good for a majority of the students. It was a surprise, and a lot of the confusion about the choice of the text book had been cleared up at the announcement. It wasn't full blown enthusiasm though, as a few students were annoyed by the monstrous book they'd been forced to buy for the current year's studies.
Dumbledore cleared his throat again. "As a final announcement, there is a New Addendum to the school rules this year. There are no Pokemon Battles to be held in the Halls. While, possession of the creatures is indeed within the rules, they can be quite destructive. Any and all Pokemon Battles are to be held on the grounds outside at least a hundred meters away from the Castle. No exceptions. Also, for those interested, Miss Lovegood is forming a league with the help of our new Care of Magical Creatures instructor. All interested inquiries of joining should be made to either of them." He paused and smiled. "I believe that is everything of importance. Let the feast begin!"
The children all ate their fill and enjoyed ever moment of it. As soon as the call to return to the dorms was made, the Gryffindor group all went up to congratulate Hagrid, who heartily thanked Harry for his role in it. The boy flushed a little and smiled at him. With that, they all returned to their common area.
Harry felt like he had returned to a second home again. The events and troubles of the past few days were all but forgotten. He walked into the Gryffindor common area and paused as he found himself facing a wall of girls. Each one with a scowl on their faces. "Huh?"
"It's not true! Is it Harry?" cried one of them. She looked to be a second year.
"This jerk! He's spreading rumors about you." chimed another.
"Well, we won't let him, will we girls?" agreed another.
Alex looked like he'd wave at him, and had a sheepish grin on his face. He was currently tied to a chair in the middle of the rather angry group of girls. "Um, hey, old man. A little help please." A few of them were jabbing at his sides with their wands, and several more had them pointed at him.
Hermione had to put her hand over her mouth to keep from giggling at the scene.
Ron shook his head. "That's what you get for running your mouth. You should have known better."
Harry hung his head and slumped his shoulders. "Let him go. He's..." He shifted his eyes away and turned a bit pink about the ears. "He's not lying."
The girls slowly got stunned expressions on their faces. A few were glancing back at the young black haired boy. "See. I told you. Now let me out of here. Jeez, you girls are crazy!"
"Wh-what?" stammered one of the girls.
Harry scratched the back of his neck and looked to be clearly annoyed. "He's got a big mouth, but he's not lying. He really is my son. It's...complicated."
There was a bit of silence in the room. It was more than just the girls who had captured the boy by then.
"Well, this is awkward," commented Ron.
Percy walked into the room and froze. "What the? What's going on here?"
One of the girls holding the boy looked up at him. "He said, he's Harry Potter's son. It's..."
The older boy rolled his eyes. "He is Harry Potter's son. Let him go, now." He looked very serious and crossed his arms.
The group of girls were a bit reluctant as they untied him. Alex shook himself as he stood up. "Thanks. I thought they were gonna curse me into next week." He jumped behind his father's back.
Harry narrowed his eyes a little. "Well, they were. You should be more careful. I have a lot of fans, and not all of them will take hearing about you very well."
"Wait. How is that possible?" snapped one of the girls in irritation. "He's a first year, and..."
Harry shrugged. "Time travel. I'm sure you've heard about how my parents aren't dead anymore. I met his Mom during all that."
"So...so...you're, not a virgin?" muttered a dark haired first year girl.
"No," grumbled Harry. He was clearly uncomfortable. "I'm not. Look, it was a long time ago. His Mum is all grown up and all. I'm a bit young for her now. Don't worry about it. He's...mine, I guess." He looked annoyed with the boy who was making faces at the girls from behind his back. "Oh, knock it off."
Alex stopped and turned his eyes away while rubbing on the back of his head. "See, I told ya."
"R...really?" said another girl.
"I'm afraid so," replied Harry with a dejected nod.
"You're...serious aren't you?" muttered a first year girl in pigtails that looked both shocked and appalled.
"Kind of, yeah," muttered the boy uncomfortably.
"I can vouch for him," replied Ron.
"Me too," said Hermione a bit reluctantly. "I've met Alex before. He's not lying."
"Bleh!" said the first year as he made another face at them. "Deal with it, he's my Dad."
Fred and George were chuckling together. "We like...you kid." They passed it between each other.
"How do you guys do that anyway?" asked Alex as he looked up at them.
They looked at each other and then back down at him. "We're twins." They responded together.
The boy cocked his head. "Dad and Auntie Anna aren't like that."
"Identical twins," amended Fred.
"Parvati isn't like that with her sister. Face it, you guys are just weird," said Ron.
Alex shrugged. "Who says that's bad." He looked at the twins. "Hey, I heard about you two. I promised Grandpa Potter I'd help Dad loosen up a bit. You'll help me prank him right?"
The pair looked at each other. "Definitely, come on over and sit with us," said George.
"I'm standing right here you know," muttered Harry as he frowned at the trio.
"Oh, don't be such a worry wart," said Fred cheerfully.
"That boy is going to be trouble," said Hermione as she narrowed her eyes at it.
"I'd complain, but it might divert their attention away from me a bit." Ron slapped Harry on the shoulder. "Sorry, you know how it is."
Harry shrugged. "I'll live."
Parvati walked up and took Ron by the arm. She'd been over with Lavender Brown. "Come on and sit with us." Hermione moved off with them.
Harry moved to follow, but paused as he realized a lot of the girls were still standing around and looking at him. There was an familiar vibe coming off them, but it wasn't usually so potent. "Uh oh."
A particularly bold first year girl walked up. "So, um, Harry? What kind of girl do you like?"
"Yeah?" agreed a second year girl.
A fourth year girl moved up to his side. "You don't mind talking with us for a bit do you?"
"Do you have your guitar? Play us a song then?" agreed another third year girl with blond hair in a ponytail.
His back went a little straight. "I um...I guess..."
"I kind of figured you were kind of shy," said another third year girl with freckles and brown hair.
"Maybe I'll play something some other time," he responded as he relaxed. He had a feeling he was in for it now. He was getting intense lust from them all. At least half the girls under the fifth year were hanging around him, and a few older girls were giving him the eye from across the room. "Oh man."
"Come on and hang out with us for a bit," said the bold first year girl. "I'm Romilda. Romilda Vane. I'm a big fan!"
"Yes, me too!" agreed a second year girl.
They pulled him over and practically forced him to sit down in a chair. He gave a small sigh. "Well. I don't mind talking for a bit I suppose." He was going to have to deal with it. He noticed a few boys in the room were giving him glares. He didn't want to avoid the common area for the rest of the year. Chatting for a little while wouldn't be to bad.
"What sort of stuff do you like?" asked one of the girls.
"What kind of girls do you like?" asked Romilda as she shifted with excitement.
He gave a small shrug. "I like music, meditating, and...um...well, peaceful relaxing things. Like walking on the beach, or in a garden or something." He purposely avoided anything that might end up a gift. He didn't want to end up drowning in them.
"Wow! That's so romantic!" squealed a third year girl.
"Yeah. That girl Hermione...is she...your girlfriend?" asked a second year girl with a small frown on her face.
Harry shook his head. "No. She's a good friend of mine. We're not dating or anything though."
"Do you think I'm pretty?" asked Romilda as she tossed her hair.
He was a bit surprised at her boldness. "Well, I guess you're cute. I don't really know you though."
She smiled at him. "Which of us is the prettiest then?"
The girls all looked excited at that suggestion.
He narrowed his eyes a little. "I'm not looking for a girlfriend. I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass on that one."
"What? You don't want to say who you think the cutest girl in school is?" asked a fourth year girl who thought herself very pretty. She wasn't wrong, but that was beside the point.
"Not really. No," he replied. "I like girls and all, but I'm not really looking to find one to keep. Probably not for a while. I don't have much time to pay attention to a girl. Not that I don't like them or anything, but even if I said so, I wouldn't be interested." He smiled. "I'm actually kind of boring. I want to do well in class, and there's the band as well, not to mention my friends. I spend most of my time at school studying, practicing, or meditating. I don't have a crush on anyone in particular if that's what you're getting at."
It didn't seem to bother any of the girls around him. "Oh. Well, we can be friends, can't we?" asked Romilda.
Harry gave a small sigh. "We'll see. I don't really know any of you." He stood up, and smiled. "Sorry, I'm afraid I've had a long day. I'm going to bed."
There was a muttered disappointment and a few "Awww," from the various girls.
Harry moved at a fast walk and made for the dorms. He dashed around the corner and gasped as he clutched at his chest.
"Have fun?" asked Hermione with her arms crossed. She looked amused. Parvati and Ron were standing with her.
"Anna was right, this is going to be a difficult year," he replied as he looked at them.
"I feel kind of sorry for you," said Ron as he smirked.
Harry narrowed his eyes at him a little. "I think that Romilda girl is going to be chasing me about for the rest of the year."
"Is that bad? She's cute," said a new voice. He glanced back and noticed Collin Creevy standing behind him. "Hello, Harry. Have a good Summer?"
The boy relaxed a little. "Oh. Hello, Collin. Sure. How about you?"
"It was great. Thanks for sending those tickets. It was a great show!" he grinned at him.
Harry nodded. "No problem. How's your little brother?"
Collin chuckled. "He can't wait to start. He was positively jealous when I left. He'll be attending next year." He looked over his shoulder. "That Vane girl is cute."
The Potter boy shrugged. "I suppose so. She's a bit pushy, but she doesn't seem like a bad girl."
Hermione scowled at him. "You'd like it if she was."
Ron gave a short laugh and covered his mouth. Parvati seemed amused as well and rolled her eyes a bit. "Really, Harry. Thinking of starting a collection?"
"Har, Har," he replied to them. Hermione was a little jealous, but it was just a bit. "I'll just have to deal with it I guess. It's not much worse than it was anyway. I'm getting used to it."
"Lucky bastard," grumbled Seamus as he pushed past the group.
"Yeah. I can't believe you," agreed Dean as she shook his head.
"I'd prefer a bit of peace and quiet," grumbled the spectacled boy as he hung his shoulders. "It's no big deal though. The first years are always the worst, but they get used to me by the time the first semester is over. It will pass."
Hermione shook her head. "Whatever you say." She knew better. The older he got, the more appealing he was. She got a bit annoyed by it, he was cute and all, and she supposed she wouldn't mind if he showed any interest in her. She was satisfied with friends though. It seemed like a better and better position the more she got to know him. After all, he was the same age as her, and already had a love child.
"I've got enough trouble. I don't need to worry about having a girlfriend anyway." He looked back towards the door to the common room. "I don't want to jerk someone around anyway."
Parvati seemed to think on it. "So, you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings?"
Harry was an empath, he knew that a few of the girls wouldn't have their feelings hurt even if he did try something and didn't keep them. Romilda was one of them. "Pretty much." Despite that, it was still more trouble than he was willing to get into.
Collin nodded at that. "Well, I still say that Romilda Vane is hot. I noticed her during the sorting, and I'd say she's the prettiest of her year."
"So, you like her then?" asked Parvati with a grin on her face.
He blushed a bit. "No. I don't have a crush or anything. She's just pretty that's all."
Harry shrugged. "She's a bit young for me."
Hermione arched her eyebrow. "You like older girls?"
The boy shook his head. "No. I don't think I'd feel right messing around with a first year that way though."
Ron shrugged. "No comment." He didn't want to say something stupid and upset Parvati. She was a bit jealous of him.
"I guess I can understand that," commented Collin.
"Well, I'm going to the dorms. See you later." Harry started up the stairs.
"I'll come along," said Ron. Collin moved with them.
Hermione and Parvati started towards the girls dorms. "We'll see you boys tomorrow then," said Ron's girlfriend.
Anna Potter was curled up under her sheets. She had tears in her eyes as she lay in the fetal position. She was crying in silence, and most of the other girls had settled in for the night. She'd been as she was for a while, and had her fists clenched in tight balls. She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth together. Her chest was tight, and her heart was pumping.
"You know what you've got to do," said a voice in the back of her mind.
"I don't want to," she responded silently.
"I know, I don't want to." The girl squeezed her eyes shut as tears flowed down her cheeks.
"It's time to begin. You must, you know it."
Her eyes opened, her irises had become orange again. "I know."
"The time has come then, he must be destroyed."
"Yes." She closed her eyes and her hands relaxed, the tears kept coming. "It's time. I cannot push it away any longer."
It was time for the Nightmare of Hogwarts to truly begin. "I will, destroy him."
"Good. Gooood," said the voice. "The time has come, Lady Vader. You must rise."
"Yes, and this time, I am the Master," she replied in silence. In her mind, she faded into darkness as sleep overtook her. "At last, my time has come. Soon, all of Hogwarts will tremble under the might of the Dark Side of the Force."
Anna scowled as she found herself standing in a home. The walls were painted white, various bottles of potions lined the walls. A cauldron was bubbling on the fireplace, and a young girl was sitting on the floor in front of the fire, playing with an expensive toy. It was a doll house with a tiny family that lived inside of it, they looked and acted like a real family, or rather a child's idea of what the perfect family would be like. The children were in charge, they could eat anything they wanted, watch any show they wanted on the broadcasts, and stay up as late as they wanted.
The Heir of Slytherin flexed her fingers and ran them along the wall. The knives on the end tore into the plaster, ripping it to shreds as she moved closer.
The girl turned her head, she was one of the first years. "Dad?"
"Heh. Your Daddy can't help you here, kid."
The child looked up as a horrified expression came across her face. "You're...you're not..." It was a man in a red and green sweater, with a fedora over his bald and scarred face. His skin was covered in burn scars and pits, and his teeth were sharp. Under the shadows of the brim, two glowing red dots glared down at her. "Who are you? You better leave! This is my house, and my Daddy will come and..."
The thing chuckled at that. It was cold and cruel sounding. "Your house? Look around kid, does this look like your house to you?"
The girl backed away as her head darted around. A shocked expression covered her face. The walls looked burned, and ratted, the floor was covered in ash and burned plastic, all the furniture was blacked and rotted looking, and there were no lights but a few beams of moonlight that shined through the boarded up windows.
"This...is my house. Welcome to it, now, I suggest you start running. The more fun I have hunting you down, the more likely I am to be quick about ripping out your fucking guts." He raised his hand and looked at the knives on his fingers. "What's the matter kid? Don't you realize it yet?"
"Who...who are you? What is this?" she staggered back, not even realizing she was clutching a ratty looking teddy bear in her arms.
"My name is Freddy, and this...this is the worst fucking nightmare you've ever had."
The girl screamed and turned to run away. She darted around doors, through hallways, and around corners. She was desperately looking for any way out, any exit to the horrible place. She gasped as she found herself at the end of a long hallway. A door on the other side was cracked open, revealing the street outside in the moonlight. She ran, running as fast as she could for it. It seemed to draw closer, but she couldn't reach it. It was like it was moving away from her at the end of the impossibly long hallway. A scraping sound behind her caught her attention. She screamed as she looked over her shoulder.
The man was walking at a calm pace, ripping up the wall with his clawed fingers. He was distant, but moving at a steady slow pace. She turned back and ran harder, unsure of how she was able. The door drew closer, she could almost reach it. She looked back again as her fingers touched it, ripping it open violently. The horrible man was right behind her, no more than seven feet away. She screamed and slammed the door shut, turning to run into the street.
Only, she didn't find the street ahead of her at all. It was brick walls, heavy metal pipes, and long corridors. "What? No! I made it out! I now I did!"
"Heh. There is no way out. Don't you get it? You're trapped, and you can't escape." Her head darted around as she sobbed.
She couldn't see him, but his voice sounded near, echoing off the pipes and walls. The hiss of steam escaping the pipes sounded. She jumped and screeched as one of them burst to life, giving her a jolt. "No! Please! Please don't!"
There was the screech of metal against the bricks. She turned and gasped as the man raked his claws along the wall sending sparks flying. "Heh. One, two, Freddy's coming for you..."
She turned and started running again. Caught in an endless maze of pipes and walls, doors and tunnels. No exit came into sight, just more hallways. "No! No! Please! Leave me alone! Why are you doing this!" She pleaded with her tormentor while running.
"Three, four better lock your door..." continued the man as he sung his rhyme.
The girl gasped for breath, her legs were on fire, and the ratted bear was still in her arms.
"Five, six, get your crusifix...Seven, eight, better stay up late..." He was still behind her, his voice coming ever closer.
She stopped as she ran into a dead end. A wall of metal in front of her, and the door to a huge furnace. The grate opened and a ball of flames jumped out at her in the shape of a clawed hand. She jumped back and screamed. She looked over her shoulder, and the man seemed to be gone. Backing down the hall she looked back at the furnace again.
The unfortunate girl gasped and swallowed, panting desperately. "No...where am I? What is this?" She looked down into her arms and noticed the bear. She pulled it at arm's length and a disgusted frown formed on her face. "What? When did I?"
The bear's head turned about to face her. "Nine, Ten, never sleep again!" She screamed as she dropped it and tried to rush away. A clawed arm ripped open the belly of the stuffed animal, sending blood soaked stuffing flying in every direction. It grabbed her ankle and sent her face first onto the ground. She felt her jaw slam into the concrete and blood flowed from her bottom lip. She didn't notice it, as she rolled onto her side and screamed as the man rose out of the remains of the bear. It grabbed her with it's other hand and reared back the clawed fingers with a positively evil looking grin.
Her screaming stopped as he impaled her in the chest, filling her lungs with fluid. She gasped and choked, feeling very real pain. "N...no...why? What did I?"
He leaned in and put his nose against hers. "Why? Heh. Because it's fucking fun." He ripped his claw out of her chest and slashed her across her face and throat. Her eyes went dead, and she vanished from in front of him.
The monster smirked. He could feel the energy from what he'd just done fill him. Her fear made him stronger, powerful, it fueled him. Soon, very soon, all of Hogwarts would feed his strength. He would grow powerful, and his darkness would become unbeatable. It was just a matter of time, and he had a school filled with children, trapped and unable to escape for the rest of the year.
Soon, all of Hogwarts would be terrified of falling asleep, and before long, he'd be strong enough to start taking lives. As he grew in power, the dreams would become more and more real. It had begun, and while the first year girl's dream was over, it was time to find another target.
Hermione shushed the unfortunate first year girl as she held her and rocked her back and fourth. It was Romilda Vane, and she was shaking and gasping for breath. "Shhhh. Shhh. It's just a nightmare. It's all right."
"Wha? What?" The girl was disoriented and confused. "What was that...that thing?"
Parvati was sitting next to her with a worried expression on her face. "Is she all right? I've never heard such screaming."
Hermione stroked the girl's hair. "It was just a nightmare. You're all right. You're at Hogwarts, and you're fine."
Most of the girls had been woken up by the screams. A few slept through them, but most of the dorm was settling back down as Hermione and Parvati calmed the girl down.
The Patil girl grabbed her by the hands. "It's all right. Poor dear. It must be her nerves. She's a first year, and it can be a bit hard at first."
Romilda was calming down and gasping still. "It...it was so real. I've...I've never had a dream like that. I...I could feel it when...when he..."
Hermione gave a small sigh. "It's late. Look, everything is fine. You're in the dorms. Perfectly safe. It was just a nightmare."
Three beds down, Lavender Brown sat upright giving all three of the girl's a start. She was screaming bloody murder with wide eyes and waving her hands wildly about as if to push something off. Romilda started screaming again and began to cry.
Lavender gasped and clutched at her chest. "Wha? What? Where?" She calmed much quicker than Romilda had and seemed to realize where she was. "A dream?"
"Lavender!" cried Parvati as she rushed over to her. Hermione stayed with the crying Romilda, holding her against her chest.
"Again?" groaned a nearby third year girl. She sat up and gave a sigh.
The Brown girl turned to put her feet on the floor as she sat there and gasped. "I'm all right. It...it was just a bad dream."
Parvati gave a sigh. "I noticed. It must have been Romilda's screaming." She looked relieved. "Hopefully, that's the last of it."
Lavender was looking at the rug and feeling the carpet with her feet. "It...it was so real though." She rubbed on her arm, and looked at her thigh. "He...cut me, and it hurt."
Hermione frowned a bit at that. "Well, you probably just got a good scare. You can't feel anything in a dream. I read about that, it's the one thing your mind can't copy in a dream."
Romilda pushed her off and looked at Lavender. "H-he?"
The Brown girl scowled at Hermione. "I know I felt it! It was awful. It really hurt! I've never had a dream like that before."
The nerdy girl scowled at that. "That's supposed to be impossible though. I mean, medically speaking."
Romilda shivered. "What do you mean he?" She pulled her sheets up to cover herself. It was difficult to do with Hermione sitting there, but she managed.
Lavender blushed. "It's silly. It was just a bad dream. I'll be fine..."
The dark haired girl scowled at her. "It was a man, in a dirty hat like the one Ron Weasley wears, with a red and green shirt, and a glove with knives in it on one hand."
The other girl froze and looked up at her. "How..."
The first year was shaking. "I had the same dream. He chased me through this awful house, and just when I thought I'd escaped, I ended up in this horrible place. He cornered me, and stabbed me. I could really feel it. It was like I almost died, but I woke up right before it happened."
Lavender looked confused. "My dream was different. I was outside and running through a field of beautiful flowers. It was wonderful, but...all of a sudden, I was in this awful wood. All the trees were dead, and the ground was made of mud, and there was this mist. That man was there though, he was chasing me, and no matter where I ran, I always ended up in the same place. I couldn't get out of those woods. I...twisted my ankle, and it really hurt, and I ran into him. He pushed me up against a tree, and cut me with those knives."
A lot of the girls who were still up were sitting around looking on. A few more frightened than others.
Hermione scowled at them. "Are you trying to give everyone else nightmares too? Honestly, telling a story like that at this time of night. It's just a ghost story, a nightmare!"
"His name is Freddy," replied one of the nearby third year girls. "I've heard about him."
Hermione narrowed her eyes at her. "You too? I admit it's a bit strange, but it's just a story."
Romilda nodded. "He told me his name was Freddy!"
Lavender gasped and grabbed Parvati. "Don't you remember? What Padma told us?"
Her friend nodded. "Yeah. That was just a story though. Something to scare first years."
"What story?" asked Romilda as she shifted forward.
A fifth year girl spoke up from near the window. "I've got friends in Hufflepuff who told me about that guy. Really nasty stuff."
"What?" muttered Hermione in shock. "This is silly. Stop it or none of us will get any sleep tonight."
The girl ignored her. "His name is Freddy Kruger. He used to kill little kids, he did horrible thing to them, some even say he was a rapist. Eventually, a bunch of parents of his victims got together and burned him alive in his house. People who had the dreams put the story together, sometimes he shows parts of it, and a lot of them talk about ending up in a burned up house with a boiler room and a big furnace. About two years ago, people started having nightmares about him in Hogwarts. It started out in Slytherin, and then spread into Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. We've never had anyone here with a problem, but...there were lots of people who got attacked in their sleep. They all said the same thing, he'd chase you around, and then when he caught you, he'd slash and stab you with the knives on his hands. It's supposed to feel real, like it's really happening. Things got kind of quiet last year, just a few isolated nightmares here and there."
Hermione didn't sound impressed. "So what? He just hangs around Hogwarts giving people nightmares now? Why?"
The girl shrugged. "That's just the story I've heard. I don't know if it's true or not. There are Ghosts here at Hogwarts, so who knows?"
The Granger girl was clearly annoyed with stories of boogiemen at such a late hour. "The other Ghosts would never put up with such a thing? Besides, Dumbledore would do something about such an awful creature. There's no way."
"I've never heard of that thing, but I still had a nightmare like that," said Romilda.
Hermione shrugged. "Maybe you heard from someone and forgot? It was in the back of your mind for a while? It sounds like a bit of an urban legend to me."
"What's all this?" called Percy Weasley. "If you're not decent, I suggest you cover up. I'm coming in." After a pause that a few girls used to get under the sheets he strolled in holding his wand up and looking about the room under a light spell. "Why are you all still up?"
Hermione gave a sigh and looked over at him. "We had a few girls wake up with nightmares. Everything is fine, we'd have everyone calmed down by now if someone hadn't started telling ghost stories."
Percy scowled at that and hung his head. "Great. The boys had one as well. Woke up half the dorms. All right then, everyone back into bed. We've got..."
Another girl right next to him woke up screaming. She writhed about under her sheets and kicked her feet. Percy was so startled by this that he dropped his wand and jumped back. "Merlin!"
The girl was a fourth year, and she fumbled about and ended up on the floor in a tangle of her sheets. She gasped and staggered up and looked down at the boy. "What? Where?"
Percy blinked. "Have you gone mad?"
She ignored him and sat down on her bed. "J...just a dream..."
Hermione looked at her in confusion. "Another?"
"I told you!" snapped Romilda. "It was that horrible man! A man with knives on his fingers! Wasn't it?"
The girl who had just woken up gasped and looked at her with wide eyes. "How did you...?"
"Where did you hear about that?" snapped Percy. He'd gotten a similar story from the boy's dorms. Collin Creevy had woken up screaming bloody murder and it had taken ten minutes to calm him down.
The Granger girl seemed to think on it. "That's three people with the same dream in one night. That is strange."
"Four," said Percy. He looked about the room and bent over to recover his wand. "I'm going to talk with Professor McGonagall about it. All of you get some sleep."
"If we can," muttered Romilda irritably.
Hermione narrowed her eyes. She was going to give the library a visit as soon as she could. This was too strange to be some sort of coincidence. "How long has this been going on?" she turned to the sixth year girl who had given the most information.
The girl gave a lazy shrug and yawned. "I'm not sure. I first heard about it about two years ago. It's mostly younger students, fist and second years."
Percy stood in McGonagall's office. The woman was a bit bleary eyed and scowled at him. "Nightmares? I'm afraid that's less than unusual. There are a lot of students who are nervous and unsettled once they first arrive. A few first and second years having bad dreams from their nerves is less than unusual I'm afraid." She didn't sound very pleased with him.
The boy nodded and hung his head. "I know. This seems different though. I wouldn't have said anything if it wasn't."
He seemed ot have her attention and she narrowed her eyes. "How so?"
He blushed and looked away. "It's not just first and second years. Matilda Briant is a fourth year, and she gave me quite a start when she woke up screaming right next to me. The dreams are all similar, about...some sort of man I guess."
She sat back in the chair behind her desk. "I see. A man?"
The Head Boy nodded. "A man with knives for fingers, wearing some sort of old hat, and a red and green sweater. Collin Creevy woke up half the dorms tonight, and I found most of the girls awake in their dorms. There were three more reports of the same kind of dream. I get the impression it's not always the same. I've heard rumors about it starting about two years ago. I never thought much of it, we've never had any problems about it in Gryffindor. Word is, Slytherin had a particularly nasty case of regular nightmares, and there were rumors about the same thing happening in Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, just less frequently. It seemed to clear up on it's own some time last year."
The woman scowled at him. "Really? That is unusual."
He nodded. "I know. I don't know what to make of it. It seems to target younger students. Mostly first and second years, with a few third and fourth years here and there."
McGonagall nodded. "I see. This is a bit distressing, but no one seems hurt."
Percy stiffened up a little. "I thought I should tell you. It was just a bit too strange to ignore, especially with so many in one night, and with them all having the same sort of dream about the same man."
The teacher seemed to mull on that. "Is there anything else you can tell me about this unusual phenomenon?"
Percy thought about it for a moment. "Yes. The dreams seemed to be unusually real. People who have had them say that they actually feel pain."
The woman nodded. "I see. Thank you, Weasley. I'll speak with Professor Dumbledore on the matter tomorrow. Briant and Creevy? Who else?"
The Head Boy looked back at her in the act of walking out of her office. "Lavender Brown and Romilda Vane."
"Very well." She turned her chair to look at a nearby bookshelf. It was odd indeed, and he was right to inform her. She'd never heard about any such thing before. Hopefully, Professor Dumbledore would be able to shine more light on the matter.
Draco Malfoy stood in the moonlight shined down from a window high overhead. He was kneeling on the floor in a room completely shrouded by shadows. "Master. You have summoned me?"
The thing chuckled at him. "Yes. Tell me my young apprentice, did you make your offer to the young Potter boy?"
He nodded. "Yes, Master. He refused me."
The shadow chuckled. "As expected. No matter. Soon, Anna Potter will be destroyed, and her brother with her. Then, no one will stand in our way."
"Yes, Master," replied Draco as he bowed his head a little more.
"You must have patience my young apprentice. We will rise soon enough. Those fools are chasing their own tails. My time is at hand, and no one will be left to oppose us."
Draco shook a little under the gaze of his master, and gave another nod. "As you say."
The shadow chuckled and laughed. The horrible sound echoing through the room. It seemed to burn into Malfoy's mind as he kneeled before it, helpless and weak in it's presence. He hated it, but he also needed it. He was learning patience, and sooner or later, he would be the Master. It was just a matter of time.
Kate Delane hung from chains. Her body was bruised, her nose bloodied, and her eyes blackened. She stared forward, with a single whole arm keeping her attached to the wall. Her legs were locked up as well, with weights hanging from them, just heavy enough to prevent her from becoming comfortable.
The door at the top of the cellar opened, a fat disgusting figure strolled down the stairs. His buck teeth and matted hair barely hidden by the shadows. He was holding something in his arms, and she knew exactly what it was.
"Worthless wretch." The tiny deformed child like creature raised it's hand.
The girl was lifted from the wall and stretched forward. She grunted in agony, unable to even scream anymore. The thing lowered it's hand and she fell back, slammed into the wall again against her back. She hung there limply, whimpering and glaring at the thing.
"You're pathetic, useless, a waste." Malice dripped from the creature's voice.
"You need me," she growled. "Unless you think the fat one will be of any use."
Voldemort raised his deformed hand and curled his fingers. Kate choked and gasped unable to reach for her throat. "You are fortunate he has no talent. He'll serve his purpose, and his loyalty is useful."
"Only because he fears what his former friends will do to him if they find him. To say nothing of that rotten bitch." She had lost her arm, and the Horcrux on it. He was not pleased with her, and had kept her as she was for at least two weeks. She wasn't sure exactly. Kate had told him nothing of his words to her, but they burned in her mind, echoing over and over. It only made her hate her even more. What the pathetic creature had done to her, was nothing in comparison.
"You do not call me Master anymore?" It sounded amused at that. "Your hatred has grown stronger since I locked you away down here. You should appreciate what I do for you."
It wasn't because of him, or anything he, or the worthless rat had done.
Peter was silent, and leered at her lustfully. Her clothes were hanging in tatters, and while beaten and ragged, she was still young and firm. He dared not try anything with her, knowing that she was fully capable of killing him even in her current state. He'd been charged with feeding her and giving her a drink every now and then. She hadn't been unchained for anything. They couldn't allow her to waste away physically if she was to remain useful.
Voldemort sneered at her. "You'll remain here for quite some time. She's far out of reach, and I'll consider releasing you if it seems like you might be useful again. Until then, suffer and let your hatred grow strong. You're just a pathetic piece of trash as you are now. She toyed with you, played with you, and could have destroyed you in an instant. It's pathetic, and I'm left wondering why she did not?"
Kate lied, even he couldn't get into her head to tell. "She thinks I might lead her to you...Master. I'm fortunate she was distracted by Dumbledore long enough to escape."
The thing gave a nod and seemed to consider that. "You consider yourself fortunate? Even now?"
"I still live to destroy her. I will become strong enough. It is just a matter of time."
The thing gave a rasping laugh. "Good, good. Continue to suffer then, when your hatred is strong enough to be of use, maybe I'll let you get yourself destroyed trying to kill her again." It stopped it's sickly amusement. "I am tired, take me back."
"Y-yes Master," replied Peter. "Right away. I have dinner all prepared!"
Kate glared at them both. They were nothing but an annoyance. Voldemort had turned out to be useless. Nothing but a pathetic zombie in a shell of a body. Her weakened state had allowed him to put her in the position she was in now. She'd come crawling back, just as her true master had instructed. She hated her all the more for it, for humiliating her the way she had. It burned and grew, ever stronger. "I will, destroy you, Anna Potter," she swore to herself.
The fat pervert was the worst of the two. Always whining about how sorry he was, and how he had to do what he was told, and how he felt sorry for her. She would make him suffer, Voldemort himself was too pathetic to care about. He was a failure, pining for his former glory. He was strong in the Force, but his form was helpless and immobile without the fat one to cart him around. Easy pickings, if the opportunity presented itself.
For now, she needed patience. They kept her beaten, but healthy enough she was recovering slowly. Sooner or later, she would be strong enough to ditch the useless pair and leave. For now though, she had little choice but to endure.
McGonagall frowned as she ushered the last of the victims out of Dumbledore's office. There had been two more attacks by the next morning, and a lot of her House had gotten little sleep because of it.
The old man was scowling as he peered into the pool. He had requested access to the dreams they had, and none of the children had refused. He extracted them and viewed them one at a time. Each one was a horrible experience for any child to endure. He was now looking over the last of them in the silvery pool in his office and had a deep frown on his face. "This is...most distressing."
McGonagall had her hand over her mouth and looked on at the horrifying images. The thing stalked them, played with them, and then murdered them in their sleep. "Albus, what on earth is that thing?"
He looked up at her with an exasperated expression as he leaned over the pool. "I have never encountered anything like this." He looked up at her. "I assure you, this is more than just random coincidence. Something is stalking the children of Hogwarts in their sleep. Fortunately, it seems to have no greater effect than a poor night's sleep and rattled nerves."
"We must do something!" said the woman as she glared at Collin Creevy as he was dragged into a swimming pool and hacked and slashed sending clouds of red into the water surrounding him.
Dumbledore had a grave frown as he stood up as the images stopped. "This creature uses it's victims worst fears against them. Each dream is tailored to suit the one it attacks." He slumped down behind his desk. "I am at a loss. I'm afraid this will take time to unravel. I am unfamiliar with any such creature, it seems similar to a Boggart in some respects, but far more vicious and aggressive."
"Something that feeds on fear?" The woman narrowed her eyes. "If that is the case, perhaps the same solution...?"
The old man shook his head. "No. At least two of our victims have tried that. It failed. This creature creates a dreamscape of it's own, and lures it's victims into it. They are unaware of the change until it is too late. The monster is in total control by the time it reveals itself." He worked his tongue on the inside of his cheek as the thought about it. "I shall have to research to discover the nature of this...thing."
Harry Potter gave a small sigh. He was sitting at breakfast and holding his chin up. "You were up early today," he commented as he glanced at Hermione.
She nodded and yawned a little. "Just a bit. I wanted to drop by the library and look something up. I wasn't able to find anything out though."
"Right," Harry gave a sleepy nod.
Ron looked much the same. "I've got Runes first. You?"
"Divination," said Harry.
Parvati glanced at them. "What's with you two? Usually you're chipper in the mornings." She didn't look much better. "You especially, Harry."
The boy frowned. "Didn't sleep well."
Hermione frowned at him. "Did you have a nightmare?"
Ron shook his head. "No, first Collin did, then Dean. Kept us up for half the night. I was just about to fall asleep when Dean woke everyone up again."
The brunette girl nodded. "Right. We had a few in the girls dorms as well."
Harry arched his eyebrow. "Well, that is weird."
Parvati yawned. "We were up for a while last night too. I'll be in divination with you Harry, with Lavender."
"Me as well," said Neville as he grinned at them. He went back to his food immediately.
Hermione was oddly quiet and kept her nose in her book. "What about you?" asked Harry.
She muttered something about Boggarts and seemed to have not heard him. "No, that's not it either. That's just silly. Huh?"
"What's your first class?" asked Harry again.
"Sorry, this is really important," she replied as she continued to study her book.
He seemed to get that she was dodging the question for some reason and rolled his eyes. "What's with her I wonder?"
Parvati gave a small frown. "She's trying to figure out what that thing is that people keep dreaming about."
"Huh?" said Harry and Ron at the same time.
Lavender leaned in. "I got attacked by this thing in my dreams last night. I've heard all sorts of other people have seen him too. He's awful and really scary."
Harry looked confused. "What sort of 'thing'? He?"
Parvati leaned forward and looked a bit shifty. "They say his name is Freddy Kruger. He's supposed to be some sort of child molester and murderer who got burned up by a bunch of angry parents in his own house. Now, he stalks people's dreams and gives them really horrible nightmares. They say he's been haunting Hogwarts for the past few years."
"I don't think it's some sort of ghost though," said Hermione. "I mean, ghosts are supposed to do all sorts of things, but invading people's dreams and doing stuff like that isn't one of them."
The Boy Who Lived pushed his glasses up his nose and frowned. "That's strange."
Ron nodded. "Yeah. I've never heard about anything like that before."
Hermione nodded. "I'm guessing it's very rare. I haven't been able to find anything about it. I've only just started looking though."
The redhead nodded and tipped his hat back a little. "Well, I guess if anyone can dig something that obscure up, it would be you."
She gave him a small frown but nodded. "I'll do my best. Hopefully, I'll be able to find a way to get rid of it."
Harry stood at the top of a long spiraling stairwell. Hermione, Patil, Lavender, and Neville were all standing around him. He looked up at a small hatch with a small brass plaque on it. "Sibyll Trelawney, Divination Teacher." Harry read it out loud.
"How are we supposed to get up there?" muttered Neville.
Hermione frowned at it. "I'm glad Harry was here. I'd have had trouble finding it otherwise."
Parvati smiled. "He should do well in this class."
Her sister Padma waved at her and walked over. "Hey. I was wondering if you'd find the place."
The hatch opened and a silver ladder came down.
"Oh. That works, Harry," said Hermione cheerfully.
He frowned at her. "I didn't do anything." He climbed up before anyone else and looked around. It looked like a cross between an attic and an old tea shop. There were kettles and pots set about. There were twenty small round tables with small armchairs set up. There were stacks of cards, crystal balls, feathers, and stubby candles lining the shelves along the walls. As well as an area of dusty looking books. A few books were strewn about the tables as well, but they were mismatched and appeared to be more decorative in nature than having anything to do with the lesson.
Hermione looked about. "Isn't your sister taking Divination?"
The boy nodded. "Well, she's been taking it since she was a first year. I doubt she'll be in the same class as us."
Neville was a little disappointed to hear it. He sat down with Harry and Hermione at one of the tables. "Where's the teacher?"
The Potter boy nodded over to the corner. "Over there."
"My, you have quite a gift boy. Much like your sister I imagine." The Boy Who Lived was reminded of an shiny insect as she moved out of the shadows with a crystal ball in her hand. She had curly frazzled hair, thick glasses, and rows of beads hanging about her neck.
He smiled at her and shrugged. "Well, not really. Anna's much better than I am. I hope do well though."
She nodded and closed her eyes. "Yes. It's a shame..."
"What's a shame?" muttered Hermione in confusion.
The woman ignored her and went on. "I am Professor Trelawney. I shall be your guide into the mysteries of the unknown. Many wizards and witches are skilled in the arts of bangs, smells, and disappearings, but few are able to penetrate the veil of the future. It is a gift granted to few." She stopped and pointed at Neville. "You boy, is your Grandmother well?"
He got wide eyed and sputtered. "I..I think so."
"Don't be so sure," she responded cryptically. "This year we will cover the basic forms of divination. The first term shall be devoted to reading the tea leaves, the next, palmistry. She whirled about and pointed at Parvati. "You there, beware the redheaded man!"
She ended up scowling and glanced over at Harry who simply gave a shrug and seemed amused. After a short time, which she correctly predicted Neville would break his first tea cup, they ended up using their divination text to examine the dregs from each other's cups to read predictions.
"I'm not seeing anything," grumbled Hermione as she scowled at what she could only consider a mess. "How about you?"
The boy furrowed his brow. "A load of brown gunk." He peered at his text. "I'm not sure. According to this, we'll be sworn enemies by the end of the year." He paused. "No, wait. That's a bit different. Oh. Here. I'll make you lunch? Or is that Breakfast?"
She glared at the mess. "I'm not sure what to make of this. Seems like a load to me."
Harry shrugged. "Well, maybe we've got no talent, or this method isn't right for us? We've only just started after all. We should give it a shot."
Hermione put her palm under her chin. "Whatever. You buy into this stuff?"
He glanced over at her and smirked. "My sister is quite possibly the most powerful psychic in the world, remember?"
She gave a sigh and nodded. "Oh. Right. Her." She scrunched up her nose. "I'm going to buy you some...toenail clippers? Wait, maybe you'll buy me some? This is your tea dregs after all."
He blinked. "Do you need some?"
"Not really, no." It was a little frustrating. She paused as she looked up and cocked her head. "What's that?"
Harry looked up from trying to figure out the wet mess on the saucer. "Huh? Did you see something? I'm still a bit lost. Near as I can tell, you're going to help me fly on the back of a Hippopotamus and rescue Hagrid from being executed by the Ministry for improperly mauling shellfish."
She looked at him with wide eyes. "Wait, what?"
He nodded. "I'm confused too. My sister always says that the future is always in motion, so it's difficult to see."
"That's very wise," said Trelawney as she moved up. "She has a strong gift, I dare say she's perhaps even a bit more powerful than I am. That's saying quite a bit."
"Really?" muttered Parvati with wide eyes. Padma looked just as amazed.
"Wow," said Lavender Brown. "Anna Potter?"
The woman smiled at them. "Yes, she's a very gifted girl. Though, it is sometimes troublesome for her because her gift is so strong. That's why she's being given private lessons this year by none other than Millicent Warwick. My old divination teacher. She came out of retirement this year specifically to instruct her. I can only hope she is able to teach her to control her powerful gifts." Harry sensed she was a bit miffed about it. "I suspect she will not be of much help though. A shame."
Her brother rolled his eyes a bit at that. Anna didn't seem to think much of Trelawney's gifts, but she'd never spoken ill of her as a teacher. Though, she did mention her tendency to over predict doom and gloom, and her somewhat flaky nature.
Hermione scowled at the woman a little. "I'm wondering about her gifts. She seems a bit off to me."
Her partner shrugged and leaned in. "Anna says she's real, but that she doesn't really know how to control it, and tends to overcompensate."
The girl frowned at that. "What good is she for teaching a class then?" she grumbled under her breath. "Anyway, that's not what I meant." She had a black book with a pentagram on it. It was titled 'Rare Demons and Imps' by someone called 'Dolr Tasta'.
"I hadn't thought about demons before." The girl started flipping through it.
Harry shrugged. "What? Huh. It's not like you to ignore an assignment."
She glanced at him. "I already finished writing out my prediction while she was going on. Here." She handed it over.
Harry looked at it and frowned. "Huh? I'm...going to make out with a French girl, and teach her little sister how to legislate objections and loot sages?"
She scowled at him. "That's what the mess on that saucer you gave me said."
He hung his head and looked at his own. "I suppose it's no stranger than mine."
Hermione nodded and flipped through the pages of the book she'd picked up. "Huh. Cyberdemon...Spider Mastermind...Mancubus...Cacodemons...Pain Elementals...Revenant...Arch Vile..." She seemed to tense up and gasp.
Harry looked up. "What is it?"
"Dream Master! Harry, I've found it!" she looked up at him with wide eyes.
"Huh?" he cocked his head. "What do you mean?"
She looked at the page with her lips growing tight. "If this is right, then Hogwarts is in a lot more danger than I thought."
"What do you mean?" asked Harry.
She turned the book to face him and pointed at the page. "That thing, the one that's getting into people's dreams, it's some kind of demon. Look."
He frowned as he looked at the page. "Huh?" It was an image of a door with three snake like things with human like faces. A man was kneeling before it with a wicked grin on his face.
"It says that sometimes, if someone is wicked enough, and killed for revenge rather than justice, the guardians of the entrance of hell will allow them to come back to exact their revenge." She looked over her shoulder where Trelawney was talking with Parvati and Padma. "It enables the damned soul to become a demon of sorts. A Dream Master. It's weak at first, and can only scare people."
He nodded and frowned he was holding the book and knew where it was going. "...but after a while..."
"Right. If we don't find a way to stop it, once it builds up enough fear, it will start killing people. It feeds on fear, and once you know about it, once you're afraid of it, it can follow you anywhere. The more people who are afraid of it, the stronger it becomes. Even if everyone left Hogwarts, anyone who has had a nightmare about this thing is in danger, as well as anyone they tell about it. It's the story, the rumor that it uses to gather victims. It spreads like a virus."
The Boy Who Lived nodded. "How do we kill it?"
Hermione hung her head. "That's the worst part, according to this, you can't. No one has ever beaten one of these things. They end up running out of victims when they kill everyone who knows about them and the rumor stops."
Harry looked at her as he realized it was indeed what the book said about the thing. "That's...great. Well, we both know about it now. Now what?"
Hermione scowled. "We should show Professor Dumbledore what we've found. This is very dangerous, and we need to stop the rumor from spreading before it's too late."
Trelawney's hand snaked over Harry's shoulder and picked up the book from his hands. "What? Where did you get this? This looks like it's from the restricted section. It's far too early for demonology, you won't get into that until your second year."
"It was on the table when we sat down," said Hermione. "Professor, we need that. We've got to show Professor..."
The woman screamed as she fell to her knees. She tossed the book back behind her and clutched at her face.
All the students in the room jumped in alarm. The woman's eyes went white as her face contorted. "Ha. You're already to late to stop me. Soon, everyone will know! One, two, Freddy's coming for you, three, four, better lock your door, five, six get your crusifix, seven, eight, better stay up late, nine, ten, never sleep again." She fell face first onto the ground and went still.
"Professor!" cried Pavati in alarm.
Lavender whas shaking with terror and had her back against the wall. "No. That thing! No!"
Harry was helping Parvati with Trelawney. The woman regained consciousness and sat up with their help. "What? What happened? Where?"
"Are you all right?" asked Harry as he frowned at her.
"Oh! Oh no!" cried Hermione.
The boy looked up and then turned to where she was pointing. "Crap." The book had landed in the fireplace and was burning into ash before their eyes. He tried to reach for it with his power, but a vicious looking face formed out of the flames. An arm with a clawed hand raked out at him forcing him back and disrupting his concentration. The book was lost to the flames as the demonic figure faded back into the fire. There was a cruel sounding laughter in the room.
All the students were looking on in shocked horror at the events. The fireplace was given considerable clearance.
The woman stood up and took an handful of charms from her neck as she thrust her hands forward towards the fireplace. "Demon! I banish thee!" The flames went out, and the room went dark, save for a bit of sunlight from the window.
Harry and Hermione simply looked on in shock with the rest of the room. The teacher was gasping and clutching her chest. She turned and scowled at the pair. "You two, I think we're going to have a word with Professor Dumbledore. I have never had students manage to summon a demon on their first day in my class."
Hermione started to protest, but Harry put his hand on her shoulder. "We need to talk to Dumbledore anyway."
She looked at him and scowled a little. Trelawney started towards the trap door and opened it. "The rest of you, continue the lesson until I return. Do not be alarmed, you are safe now. I assure you, this room is warded to make banishment of such creatures quite simple for me. It's presence is gone, and you've nothing to worry about."
With that, she climbed down after the two students and took them by their arms, dragging them towards the Headmaster's office. "Honestly. On the first day no less. I dare say the two of you will not likely be attending my class again."
Hermione was just fine with that, but she didn't say anything. Harry was right, they needed to speak to Dumbledore as soon as possible, and Trelawney was taking the right to him.
Next Time: Things get worse.