All comments, suggestions and flames are welcomed.
Disclaimer – JK Rowling and various publishers own the world of Harry Potter but the words are mine.
Book 3: Dark Moon
The next day at the Great Hall, the headmaster, Professor Neal Solmyr announced that the Quidditch championship is being reinstated. The first match was to be the first Saturday of October – Gryffindor versus Slytherin.
Gryffindors, the defending champions, who were already training were delighted to hear this but the weather got worse and dark, stormy clouds had occupied the skies. This did not dampen their spirit though. The bond with the attires was ongoing but the optimum was not yet fully reached. Harry explained to Oliver that it takes time.
Then the night before the game, Oliver gave his team some unwelcomed news.
"What? We're not the playing the Slytherins?" Alicia Spinet exclaimed.
"No, Flint just came to see me using some lame excuse that half his team are ill and they can't play in this weather." Oliver explained grinding his teeth furiously. "Which is a heck of a problem."
"Who are we playing then?" Angelina Johnson inquired.
"We will be playing Hufflepuff." Oliver replied gloomily.
"Oh, come on, Oliver, cheer up!" Fred exclaimed. "We've beaten them before. Last time Harry caught the snitch in no time at all."
"I thought you might say that." Oliver said distressed.
"What's the big deal?" George asked.
"We've practicing all our moves to play against Slytherin not Hufflepuff. Their game play is entirely different. They have a new captain Cedric Diggory. He is an excellent seeker too."
Angelina, Alicia, and Katie suddenly giggled.
"What?" Wood said frowning at this lighthearted behavior.
"He's that tall, good-looking one isn't he?" Angelina said.
"Strong and silent," Katie added and they started to giggle again.
"He's only silent because he's too thick to string two words together," Fred said impatiently. "I don't know why you're worried, Oliver, Hufflepuff is a pushover."
"We're playing in very different conditions!" Oliver shouted. "Diggory's put a very strong team. We mustn't lose focus here. Slytherin is trying to wrong-foot us and they are succeeding seeing your lighthearted behavior. We have to win."
"You worry too much, Oliver." George said calmly. "We will win. We have the best chasers, the best beaters, the best keeper and the best seeker."
"Yes," Angelina nodded and added. "And best brooms in the world. What else could you ask of?"
"If we lose then we deserve to be last!" Fred said. "True the game play and conditions are different…"
"But we shall overcome them together as a team!" Harry added. "Let them come!"
"There, there!" The rest cheered.
Oliver cheered up a bit seeing his team united. Whatever happens they are facing it together.
"Alright then team," Oliver said and they went for the final practice. It was raining like hell but they managed to form a new game plan and work some moves before the clocks hit midnight. The team returned to Gryffindor Tower soaked but satisfied.
The next day, Harry couldn't avoid Oliver giving him tips everywhere he went which is why he was late for Defense against the Dark Arts.
"Well, Mr. Potter, you decided to grace us with your presence." Thant greeted him as he entered.
"I'm sorry, Professor. I had a slight Quidditch impediment." Harry replied taking his seat.
"Right," Thant chose not to comment on that. "As I was saying today we are going to study about the werewolf. It is fascinating but unfortunate creature. Who can tell me how do we tell apart the ordinary wolf from the werewolf?" And surprise there, Hermione's hand was up. She gave the description in the book and while this was commendable Thant was getting tired of bookworm's explanations. "Very good, Ms. Granger, this was the textbook definition. But I doubt you'd have a book every time you meet something new hence Gryffindor loses twenty points."
"WHAT?" Ron got carried away with frustration.
"Mr. Weasley has something to add."
Ron's ears turned red but his frustration still fumed. "She answered perfectly your question."
"Yes, she did."
"Then why do we lose twenty points?"
"You still don't get it?" Thant asked back.
"NO," Ron shook head perplexed.
"Does someone know why?" Thant turned to the class.
Harry's hand was up.
"She read it mot-a-mot. She did not use her own words."
"Very good, Mr. Potter, and yes, this is the reason. Ms. Granger, your task is not only to read but learn as well. You see I'm not testing the book or the author I'm testing you. We all know you can learn by heart a paragraph in the book but the point is to learn it, to understand it, not recite it."
Hermione went red too.
"Good now, we shall read from the book about the werewolves. Ms. Patil shall begin."
Parvati began reading then Lavender continued and Dean finished it.
"Now class, who can tell me, who is the natural enemy of the werewolf?" Thant asked. Hermione's hand was up again. "Yes, Ms. Granger?"
"Wrong answer!" Thant said.
"But Professor that's…"
"What the book says?" Thant interrupted. "The vampires are not the natural enemy of the werewolves."
"Well," Hermione mumbled confused. "Then who is?"
Harry's hand was once more up.
"Go ahead, Mr. Potter."
"The humans are their enemy." Harry replied.
"Excellent – fifty points to Gryffindor." Thant replied. "The werewolves are naturally predisposed to attack the humans whether wizards or muggles is irrelevant. The vampires with time and constant opposition have become also an enemy of the werewolves. So if there is a human and a vampire present, the werewolf will remove the bigger threat, which is?"
"The vampire and then it will proceed to the human!" Harry answered.
"Excellent! Yes, the vampire will go first and then the weaker pray. Why?"
"The humans get bitten and then transformed into them much like the vampires do."
"Exactly, the human populous is the vampire's and the werewolf's FOOD!"
"They have had another enemy too." Harry added.
"Aha, and which is?"
"It is a long extinct race known as the Undead, which could be considered truly the natural enemy of the werewolves and the vampires."
"Interesting point of view, Mr. Potter but the answer is no. At the beginning of all, the werewolves had only one enemy and that enemy is also an extinct race called long ago – the Domine." Thant replied. "The Domine, well they were a powerful predator and the natural enemy of the werewolf. But with time, the werewolves found a way to rid themselves of this enemy by increasing their numbers hence they turned to a new food source – the humans, which in time became the new natural enemy of the werewolves."
"Ah, Professor," Lavender asked. "How does this Domine look like?"
"Well, you see it every day you go to sleep." Thant replied mysteriously.
"You mean that thing guarding the tower?" Harry exclaimed.
"Yes, that is a Domine." Thant nodded and explained. "They have a most interesting defense system as you have noticed. When they are attacked they shield themselves with a shroud of dark fumes. When they attack they feed on fear in every form and every shape. Also part of their attack and defense is the ability to temporarily restrict movement, which is why they are very difficult to kill."
Harry had wondered since the start why Neal had placed such a horrific picture to protect the Gryffindor Tower and now he understood why. If Black showed himself again he would be trapped though of course a picture was merely a ghost of things that were and he doubted the picture possessed even an ounce of magic but then again beckoned the question why put it if it did nothing. Maybe the darn thing still had some influence. And that was a terrifying thought.
It was terrifying because for a long time Harry suspected that was actually a ghoul. And that was one encounter he had no desire of repeating. And though that thing there looked a bit different from the one he, Draco and Alamar encountered under Stonehenge it was still a very unsettling thought.
After class, Harry lingered behind.
"Is there something, Mr. Potter?" Thant asked.
"Yes, is a Domine a Ghoul?"
Thant lowered his gaze and sighed. "Yes and no!"
"Care to elaborate?"
"It is…" Thant sighed again trying to find the right words. "The Ghouls have two classes kind of – soldier and sentinel. The latter are you could call them the high priest, the intelligence, while the soldiers are the workers, in a way. Don't get me wrong they are crafty too but they can't yield magic while the priests can."
"And that thing is which one of the two?"
"It is a high priest. He goes by the name Spectrumi. He was the greatest among the Ghouls."
"How did he…?"
"He was betrayed by his own. I guess they were jealous of him."
Thant sighed sitting down. "He was…unique, really one of a kind. He was very skillful but also very enlightened. He was seeing the world in a way I suspect no Ghoul has ever or will ever see. He…he did not see the werewolves as enemies but rather as brothers. He had the same thinking about the others too. In a way you could say he bore the skin of a Ghoul but his soul did not belong there. That is why he enjoys immensely playing you with youngsters."
"You call that playing?" Harry asked incredulously.
"Well, yes, he is playing. If he were any other ghoul even a picture he would have tried to…you get the point."
"A picture doesn't have powers!"
"Well usually not, but the picture of a Ghoul and even worse, a picture of a Domine is a very different picture from any other."
"So they have powers?"
"Yes, their abilities are preserved on the canvas. They are not as strong as when they were alive but it is still quite impressive."
"And Uncle Neal placed it for Black?"
"Essentially, yes, it is the perfect protection because even Black would not consider a picture to be a threat."
"But Mom said you could have caught him anytime you wanted?"
"When he makes his strolls into the castle, yes we could. But we don't know where he goes every time he leaves. The picture was placed to protect Gryffindors since he obviously has an interest in getting in there. I imagine your mother told you the rest."
"She did. She also said you're holding back as usual."
Thant smiled. "Only things I don't understand yet."
"Well, then, you have a match to play, good luck!"
Harry went straight to the Great Hall to eat. His teammates were already there eating and chatting loudly. The only one silent was Oliver. He had barely touched his food too.
"Oh, come on, Oliver, cheer up!" Angelina said. "We can handle a bit of rain."
Trouble is it was not only a bit of rain it was a bloody storm outside. The whole school turned in as Quidditch was the most popular sport. They ran to the stadium heads down as the wind was fierce and ripped their umbrellas from their hands. Just before getting into the locker room, Draco appeared out of nowhere.
"Good luck, Potter, you'll need it."
"Thanks Malfoy," Harry replied though he had to outshout the storm. "Got scared again to play?"
"Yeah, Flint thinks it is a great idea."
"I imagine so."
"Oh, one more thing," Draco took out his wand and Harry's glasses. "Impervius!"
"What was that for?"
"It will repel the rain, more or less."
Harry got into the locker room and changed into Gryffindor's attire – silver fused with scarlet red stripes. They had called them last year the Scarlet Darts. The team waited for his captain's pep talk but such did not come. Oliver tried but no sound came from him.
"Well then team," Harry took point. "The weather is against us. We're playing the wrong team. There is always the chance we might even lose but we shall do so as Gryffindors and this means that they will have one hell of fight on their hands."
"Here," Fred said and applauded.
"Chasers, your job is to get as much goals as possible in the first minutes. We mustn't give them any time to take a breath. Fred, George, I don't need to tell you what to do. Oliver, when he wakes up, needs to protect us. As for me, I'll keep Diggory off balance for as much as possible. Then again, I might not since he has the upper hand in such weather but I shall try. Let's hit it SCARLET DARTS."
The team followed their seeker. The wind outside was so strong they staggered sideways as they walked out onto the field. The crowd was obviously cheering but they couldn't hear a thing there was too much interference from the storm.
The Hufflepuffs approached from the other side of the field in their yellow canary robes. The captains walked up to each other and shook hands. Diggory smiled at Wood but he did not return the favour.
Madam Hooch put the whistle in her mouth. Everyone mounted their brooms. The sound was given though almost no one heard but guessed it, and the game began. Harry rose fast up but his Nimbus 2000 was swerving slightly with the wind but that was only in the first moments after that his attire's bond kicked in. And in a way, it looked like the storm had slowed down its pace.
Draco's spell was keeping the rain away from him though Harry doubted the spell was this powerful but he remembered Sandro's words about the attires. They bond with everything the player wears including the spells except those for speed.
The resistance around Harry had diminished and he was able to see a bit more clearly than the rest. He saw the score and his heart leapt. Gryffindor was leading already with sixty to ten. In the next ten minutes that score increased to hundred and twenty to forty. Harry then noticed Diggory flying low searching for the snitch but the tiny ball was nowhere in sight.
With the first lightning came Madam Hooch's whistle and he noticed Oliver gesturing him to come to ground. Harry landed perfectly while his teammates splashed into the ground.
"I called for a time-out." Oliver roared over the storm. "Come here..."
They headed for a large umbrella at the edge of the field.
"Good, the score is hundred and fifty to sixty. We have a good lead but no great. Hufflepuff still have the chance of winning. We have to increase this lead. Katie, Angelina, I want you to focus on the right flank. It seems they are weaker there. Harry, you have to stick to Diggory like a shadow. I know it is not easy but in this ghastly weather they do have the upper hand."
"We'll do!" Harry said.
"Now, if we could something about the rain."
"We can. Give me your goggles." Harry said. The team passed them to him and he cast the spell Draco had used. "Impervius!"
"Great, excellent, now, let's the increase the score."
"Go Gryffindor!" George exclaimed.
Madam Hooch signalled the teams to mount their brooms and the game continued. With increased efforts the Gryffindors increased the score to two hundred and sixty to a hundred. They now needed just a few more goals to solidify their lead.
But Hufflepuffs caught on with the score and managed to score another five goals. Alicia then scored four more goals thus making the score three hundred to a hundred and fifty. Katie managed to steal the Quaffle and increase Gryffindor's lead with another ten points but it was still not sufficient. Angelina scored two more goals and now Harry focused onto the snitch.
Diggory was flying in the opposite direction when Harry saw something that made his hairs stand on edge. There was a group of Dementors behind Diggory. He sped up with his broom and arrived just in time. He had no idea though how to fight these creatures but he didn't have to either, as he had Sandrile who did.
His wand was at his hand. He commanded to the air: "Caecus Lumen!" A blinding light pierced the sky around the Dementors. "Voco Dines!" Out of the stormy clouds a rainy vortex formed and like a funnel it sucked the nearby Dementors into it. The sucked in Dementors were propelled with high speed towards the ground where they splashed into the mud.
Diggory who had sensed the danger had tried to fly away from that area. He and the rest of the players and the school had then witnessed the unorthodox way of dealing with the flying threat. But the Dementors were not so easily repulsed. They had sensed the threat and forgetting about the fresh and attracting food onto the stadium sped in Harry's direction.
Harry turned around his broom and increasing speed flew away but his pursuers were relentless. Harry turned around and saw the sky before him and beneath him swarming with them. His focus was wavering as it became unnaturally cold around him. The natural hatred of the Dementors towards the Necromancers came in full force.
"Volani Ignia Cudis!" Harry commanded and a storm of fiery daggers flew into the dark mass. The daggers burnt the cloaks of the Dementors forcing some of them to retreat. But the others continued at their target.
The problem was that Sandrile knew Harry did not have the strength to cast the Patronus spell and there was very little to do to repulse them. Harry climbed higher in the cloud ocean. There was now only one spell that would solve the problem and he needed to be away from these creatures' deadly effects.
"Praestris Pluvia Erectus Phala Ignatus!" (the incantation is called the Napalm Storm or also known as Scarlet Fury) Harry had focused his entire mind and body onto this incantation. He had gathered enough distance to perform it. The moment he did it he lost consciousness and the Dementors caught up with him.
At first nothing seemed to happen then all of a sudden the clouds stormy color dissipated and turned transparent. A strange vibrating sound replaced the silence. It increased in intensity and anyone looking from the ground could swear the air itself was vibrating and the vibration was becoming visible.
As the vibration reached its potential a tiny spark of blue appeared (the oxygen molecules) and then the unthinkable happened. A deafening explosion shook the ground and the entire clouds mass caught fire. It was surreal, a sea of fire raging in the clouds.
It was no concern for Harry though. He was already falling when the Dementors caught up with him. When it reached critical mass and the clouds exploded he was beneath the fiery mass. The Dementors on the other side were not so lucky. The only thing left of them were a few fuming cloaks that fell to the ground. But there was no sign of them as they were destroyed in the blast (as nothing can survive this).
While falling, Harry felt the coldness and sensed he was falling into a dark pit. He heard the voices clearer than ever.
A woman's voice shouting and sobbing. "Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!"
"Stand aside, silly girl...stand aside now...!"
"Not Harry, please...take me in his stead, kill me..."
The icy mist around him became more like a sauna and the voices were fading away.
"Not Harry, please have mercy..."
The other voice was cackling with sheer coldness. Suddenly the screams vanished and were placed by soft murmuring voices around him.
"Lucky the ground was so soft!"
"I thought he was dead for sure."
"You shouldn't be here, Malfoy!"
"Mind your own business, Weasel!"
"He didn't even break his glasses."
Harry had no clue where he was or who the voices belong to. All he knew for certain is that every inch of his body hurt like hell.
"The headmaster had no explanation for the fire storm."
"How do clouds catch fire anyway?"
"With great luck!" Harry mumbled startling the people around. He opened his eyes and saw himself surrounded by his teammates and Malfoy sitting at the edge of his bed.
"Right," George said.
"You don't remember?" Fred exclaimed. "The clouds caught fire and..."
"He meant the match Weasel!" Malfoy interrupted.
"Oh, Diggory caught the snitch!" Fred replied throwing a dirty look at Malfoy for this rude interruption.
"So we lost the match?" Harry asked.
"No, we won but he caught it."
"Malfoy, could you explain this so I can actually understand this?" Harry asked.
"Sure," Malfoy smiled. "You remember heading towards Diggory as there was a gathering of Dementors behind him?"
"Yes, I saw them. I had no choice."
"Good, well he escaped them but the Dementors apparently did not appreciate your solution so they flew after you. As much as we could see eventually they caught up. You were already falling when the clouds exploded. It was a whole sea of fire up there. It was um...quite spooky.
Anyway, Diggory caught the snitch as he was running away from the Dementors. It is afterwards that he noticed what you're doing. But it was already too late. He caught the snitch and the game ended: Gryffindor four hundred Hufflepuff three hundred ninety. I was hoping for a few more goals against you but hey it is not a perfect world."
"Whatever, Malfoy," George cut in. "Then you were falling and we feared the worst would happen but then Professor Solmyr took out his wand and you kind of slowed down before you hit the ground."
"Apparently not of the Dementors went after you. Some stayed behind to torment the rest. And Professor Thant was furious and Dementors started flying into various directions." Angelina added visibly amused and impressed.
"The other teachers came in too and produced some silvery light than repelled the rest. As I heard they had chased them well outside the boundaries of the school." Katie said.
"And then Fudge came," Fred continued with a grin. "I have never seen him become so small. Professor Hades was all over him, and then I think Gelu joined him. They were furious that the Dementors came in."
"Fudge of course came up with the excuse that they were keeping the Dementors hungry so they had come for a snack!" George explained.
"And this was really the last thing he should have said." Cassie added breathing hard as she entered the room. "Dad and Neal got really angry at that particular statement and well, Fudge will not be visiting any time soon."
"What did they do?" Ron asked alarmed.
"Well, you could say...um...the muggle equivalent would be a foot in the bottom but with magic! And he flew high!" Cassie shared ecstatically.
"Where's Wood?" Harry asked suddenly realizing Wood was not around.
"Oh, he's still in the showers." George replied. "I'm not sure whether he's happy or has the intent of drowning."
"Um, Harry," Cassie began. She was not sure how to deliver the bad news.
"Cassie?" He looked at her. She appeared to look for words, which was troubling.
"I'm really sorry."
"About?" He was now alarmed.
"Oh, stop tormenting him, little brat," Malfoy exclaimed. Harry turned his attention to Malfoy asking with his eyes 'what'. Malfoy did not really have to respond. He took something wrapped in a bundle and put it on his bed. Harry had a bad feeling what it could be.
"It's your broom, Harry." Cassie finally said.
Harry unwrapped the bundle. It was a whole mess of splintered wood and a twig, here and there with gold. It was the letters that were written on his broom.
"What happened to it?"
"Well, um, the wind blew it straight into the Whomping Willow and you know this thing that doesn't really like anything be thrown at it." Cassie answered with a very small voice.
In this moment, Madame Pomfrey came in and made a big deal about so many visitors and Harry's friends and teammates had to leave. The night was calm and Harry had time to reflect on what had happened.
He had insisted on playing and Neal had ceded restoring the Quidditch season but at what price. The Dementors came barging in anyway and it almost fell like a brick had fallen on his head. He should stop making such statements as trouble had the uncanny habit of stalking him and hitting him straight in the face.
Still, the burning clouds were the tip of the iceberg. He knew he had Sandrile on his side and this presumption nearly got him killed. He had to stop to be as overconfident as one day his luck would run out. He had to stop relying on him. Sandrile, he had been a very powerful wizard in his days and his ability to possess Harry from the past was becoming scary. Not only this, but Sandrile's spells were extremely exhausting and terrifyingly powerful, and way beyond the skills of a thirteen years' old wizard. Harry feared next time he might hurt someone collaterally.
The next day, his teammates came to visit again and this time Wood was with them. He hugged Harry though and said it was a good thing that the Dementors actually came in when they did as a few more minutes and they might have lost the match. It was clear he was not happy of the score but it could have been worse. The thing was they had relied more on the brooms and the attires and nearly lost because of it. That's even why the attires had not bonded perfectly onto them as Harry reasoned later on. Well he had to get a new broom his was in pieces.
Harry was really ready to leave the infirmary but Madame Pomfrey insisted he stayed for the weekend anyway. He had numerous visitors though – Hagrid came in with a bouquet of earwig flowers that resembled yellow cabbages. Ginny Weasley though mostly blushing gave him a get-well card that had a shrilly voice and the one only way to contain it was to hide it under the pillow. Alamar had sent him a bag of sweets and a note saying sorry for not being there but study things and staff. And Ron and Hermione were with him until nightfall. Malfoy also managed to sneak while Ron and Hermione had actually fallen asleep.
"You know I hear you've a very creepy painting." He shared.
"Yeah, it is very creepy – graveyard and bones."
"Really?" Malfoy burst into silent laughter and tears fell down his cheeks.
"I know poetic irony and it would be even more ironic if they put an awkward one onto you."
"That will definitely qualify for it." Malfoy wiped the tears off his cheeks. "Anyway, get better, I'll go, you know..."
"Alright, get out,"
"Till next time, Potter,"
"I can't wait, Malfoy!"
Malfoy left as silently as possible.
"Ah, what was that, Arry?" Ron's opened an eye looking foggily around.
"Oh, nothing, Ron, just thinking aloud,"
"I've must fallen asleep."
"Yep, that's must have been it! Why don't you take Hermione and go to actually sleep?"
"Yeah, good idea," Ron shook Hermione awake.
"What?" She groaned yawning.
"Time for bed, Hermione," Harry said. "I'm thinking turning in early."
"Oh, alright, Harry," She said. "Ron!"
"See you tomorrow, Harry,"
"Good night, Harry," And they left.
The next day, Madame Pomfrey insisted on making last minute checks and Harry got out of the infirmary at time for lunch. He headed to the Great Hall and sat down on his house's table. Everyone was glad to see him back, up and about. He had though missed the defence against the dark arts' lesson.
"Where were you?" Thant had stopped by the Gryffindor table.
"Oh, Pomfrey time!" Harry replied.
"Right, never mind, I'm sure Ms. Granger will fill you in." And Thant strode away.
Harry turned to Hermione. "Well?"
Harry rolled his eyes into the direction of Thant and back to her.
"Oh, sure, no problem," She exclaimed finally getting it. "And transfiguration too..."
"Right, thank you, Hermione,"
They ate in silence and then headed for Potions but not to the dungeons though. They had a lesson outside.
And don't forget to review. It only takes a couple of minutes. Thank you!