It wasn't by choice that Harry found himself in the Hogwarts library on the first of September. Not that he didn't like the library, but he could think of few alternatives that would offer the refuge he sought.
He sighed as he scanned the row of books in front of him. He barely glanced at the covers, as the moon provided little enough light from the windows. He rubbed his forehead, irritated at his scar for so many reasons, primarily, at the moment, for not allowing him a good nights sleep on his first day back to school.
Harry resigned himself to slipping off his invisibility cloak. He realized he didn't much care if Filch or Snape caught him in the middle of the night. He was feeling a little reckless and thought that being caught would only result in a meeting with the Headmaster, who was treading carefully around Harry these days. The Marauder side of him believed this was a fantastic opportunity to flex school rules anyway. Nobody would suspect it on the first day back. Most of the students were snoring happily in their dorms at this time, stuffed from the feast.
"Why am I looking at books again?" Harry mumbled to himself. Another habit he'd picked up this summer. Talking to oneself providing Harry with the little socialization he needed to make it through another summer at the Dursley's.
Oh, right. Looking at the paintings in the hallways only entertained Harry so much, he never had much of an eye for artwork, or an ear in this case. Sir Cadogan had taken to following Harry, wanting to duel him after hearing the gossip about last year's events in the Department of Mysteries. Apparently defeating Harry would be a great accomplishment to add to the list of his many conquests, which Harry now knew alphabetically.
The Kitchens were tempting but Harry was still full from the feast earlier that evening and didn't feel like being subject to the worship of the many house elves. He might have liked to visit Dobby, but pushed that thought away. House elves right now reminded him of Kreacher, and he felt a wave of emotions take him, guilt, anger, and sadness. He only learned of Kreacher's fate from Remus, who cheerfully informed him that the house-elf had hanged himself in front of his mistress' painting. They had found the matron Black oddly silent and sniffling, murmuring about how sweet a parting gift that'd been, and Kreacher's loyalty. Harry nearly gagged when he heard that.
The Owlery, was one, too high to climb, and two… well, Hedwig was still out flying, relishing in the freedom of the night sky. It was hard for her to remain cooped up in that cage most of the summer. Harry didn't send too many letters, he fancied himself a man of few words lately.
Words, right, he was in the library. It was the one place he could escape Sir Cadogan, as there were few paintings here. It was also the one place Harry could escape most his thoughts. His feet took him here tonight, and he wasn't about to ask why. Harry shook his head and drew his wand.
Instantly, a comforting light emitted form the tip of his wand and he breathed deeply. Who knew he could draw such happiness from a simple spell? He took a moment to marvel a little at the magic he once dreamed would exist. Then his eyes flickered over to the Restricted Section.
He shrugged to himself as if saying 'why not?' He remembered the incident from first year and the Restricted Section, and this time vowed to be more careful. He casually slipped through the barrier that separated these few book from the rest of the shelves and began thumbing their spines. Seconds later he pulled his hand back, realizing sheepishly he could have incited a spell by his simple touch. He returned to searching with his eyes.
Harry never really read anything. He knew he didn't. The words just didn't seem to sink in. Maybe it was the style in which wizards wrote. He wanted an adventure and instead received a lengthy definition from his Charms book and a stern scolding from his Transfiguration book, always warning him what NOT to do, or going on a tangent into magical history about this curse or something. At that point Harry would only pretend to read and instead watch Hermione's quill scratch across her page. Then he'd imagine giant quills replacing broomsticks in Quidditch and laugh, causing him to forget his homework, and receive a curious glare from Hermione. Then he'd be at square one again.
That was probably why he didn't get amazing grades. He did all right, if he could focus more he could do better. But grades weren't really his concern lately. No, number one on the list was sleep, two was train, three was destroy Voldemort, and fourth was to get up the nerve to try Firewhiskey. Quidditch was somewhere in there also.
As he strolled toward the end of the shelves in the recesses on the Restricted Section, he briefly mused over his good fortune at being made Quidditch captain this year. Well, it wasn't really good fortune. Harry was busy, very busy. Dumbledore booked two evenings a week with him for Occlumency and other training (that he hadn't been told about yet), and he was now in NEWT's courses.
Harry reached the end of the shelves and promptly moved on to study the wallpaper with the same amount of attention he'd given the books. It was dusty and he held back a sneeze, temporarily inciting his wand to flare up, shedding light onto the ancient wall.
It was then that Harry noticed a tear in the wallpaper. Curious, he thumbed it for a moment. Then with a tug, felt it rip easily away. Never one to miss any sort of opportunity, he pulled off a large square in front of him to reveal a hole.
A long and thin hole was hidden there and Harry studied the book stashed away inside. He briefly considered waking Hermione to tell her about this. She would probably have a heart attack. A secret book! In a thousand year old library! He slung his invisibility cloak over his shoulder and yanked roughly on the book, sliding it out. The dust sprung out around it and Harry coughed into his sleeve.
The cover was so worn that Harry could not make out the title or the author. He flipped open to the first page.
"Primal Magick by G. K. Gryffindor," Harry read aloud, amazed. Well, it's obviously not Godric Gryffindor, but one of his descendents that wrote this. Wonder what it's got in it?
He casually flipped open the first page.
I am a woman of little words and even less patience so don't expect me to skirt around the subject of this book. Slytherin is evil. I've left this book for anyone worth a damn to read. Only a Gryffindor can read its contents—
Brilliant! Harry thought to himself, a woman after his own heart. After sixteen years, Harry had finally found a book he was interested in reading. He stashed it under his arm and trudged back to Gryffindor tower, suddenly very sleepy.