Ron Weasley was used to being woken up at odd hours of the night. He had six siblings after all. Ron was not used to be waken up by someone crying softly though. Locating the sound he realized that it was coming from his best friends bunk next to him. The curtains were drawn and it looked like Harry had just come up to bed. What could be wrong with his best mate?
Concern for his friend sparked his next action. He got out of bed and quickly walked over to where Harry's bed was. Without pulling the curtain aside just yet he called out to Harry. "Harry, you ok mate?" Suddenly the crying stopped and Ron was able to resist any longer and he pulled the curtain back to see if Harry was ok.
What Ron saw distressed him greatly. Harry was on the middle of the bed knees drawn up, head hidden between his knees, and clutching his left hand. Harry looked the smallest Ron had ever seen him. Ron quickly got over the sight before him and sat down beside his mate.
"What's wrong Harry?"
A tear streaked face looked at Ron. "I'm fine Ron, you can go back to bed." Looking at Harry though you could tell without a doubt that he was definitely not "fine".
"Harry, you are not fine. Did you just come back from detention with Umbridge?" It was after midnight and detention rarely lasted that long, but with how Umbridge had been treating Harry in public you never knew what she might do next. "You can tell me mate."
"I'll be ok Ron, Its just a few scratches." With that Harry hesitantly showed Ron his hand, the one that read, "I must not tell lies."
Ron instantly recognized the marks and from what object they had come from, a blood quill. Part of his father's job at the Ministry was to confiscate dark objects that are illegal. So Ron knew all about blood quills. His father had practically drilled it into all of their heads that if anyone used a blood quill on them or they even saw one they were to go him immediately.
Just for confirmation though he asked Harry again what had happened. "What happened in detention, Harry? Did she make you use a quill that wrote with your blood?" Even though Harry had been here for five years now he still was getting use to the wizarding world Ron had grown up in. So it was not likely that Harry would know what a blood quill was.
A shaky nod came from Harry and he buried his head in his knees once again. Ron had never seen his friend like this. Harry was one of the strongest people he knew heck he had fought Voldemort three times now. Never once had his friend cried during or after one of their "adventures". In fact, he had never seen Harry cry, not once in five years. Realizing that Ron knew it was time to get help.
"Harry stay right here I'm going to go get Professor Mcgonagall. She can help." At Ron's proclamation Harry raised his head and shot a frightened look at him and the next thing Ron knew was he was sitting on an empty bed. Harry had run.
Ron closed his eyes for a minute and took a deep breath. Why didn't Harry want to go to Professor Mcgonagall? Ron then thought back on all the times Harry had hidden that he was hurt at the beginning of term just so he wouldn't have to go to the hospital wing. Everything was slowly clicking into place for Ron. He had always thought that Harry just hated the attention and being fussed over, but that look Harry shot him was a look he had only seen once before. That was the look Harry had shot him before his Uncle had dragged him away from the station last year. Then, he had just brushed it off as an exaggeration, now though he saw the panic and he was scared for his friend. With those thoughts he set off to Professor Mcgonagall office as quickly as he could for help.
A sleepy professor heard a soft, but firm knock on her door. Who would want her this late at night? Maybe she could get them to come back when it was actually light out. She hated trying to talk or solve problems when she was barely awake herself. Transfiguring her night clothes into her robed she opened the door. To say the least she was surprised to find Ron Weasley. "Yes Mr. Weasley, what can I do for you and can't this wait till morning?"
"I'm sorry for disturbing you, but this can't wait." Minerva sighed, teenage drama she was sure of it, but then Ron continued. "Harry is hurt and when I tried to get him to come for help he ran." That woke Minerva up completely and then she noticed the worry written all over Mr. Weasley's face. How did she not see that before? Ponder over that later she scolder herself, she had a child to find.
"Don't worry Mr. Weasley I will find Mr. Potter right away. Do you have any idea where he might have gone?" Minerva gave her student a concerned glance.
"I...I don't know Professor. He was on his bed crying one moment and then gone the next." Ron looked up at her with a concerned look of his own. "I think there is something more to this then what's on the surface."
Minerva reached out and patted her student on the shoulder. "Everything will be ok Mr. Weasley. Go back to bed and I will make sure Mr. Potter is alright." Minerva might have looked calm, but that last statement made her blood run cold. It seems Ron suspected something has been amiss for a while. Why hadn't she noticed? Some good head of house she was.
When Ron had left Minerva cast a quick patronus charm to let Albus know all that had happened. This way he could let the portraits know and they could help her find the child. When that was done she set off down the halls looking for any clue she could find that would lead her to Harry.
When Harry had heard Ron tell him that he was going to get a Professor he panicked. The most important rule at the Dursleys had always been whatever happens behind closed doors, stays behind closed doors. Why would it be any different here? If he told now he would get in even more trouble and he couldn't bare to sit through that quill again or even worse go back to the Dursleys.
The Dursleys have been better these past few years at least with not having to sleep in the cramped cupboard anymore, but the beating were still horrible. Just thinking of Vernon's going away gift made him shiver. It had been the worst beating of his young life.
All those thoughts passed within a moment as Harry had rushed out of his dorm. He had no idea where he was headed as he ran as fast as he could, but he knew he had to go somewhere. Anywhere.
When Harry stopped running he found himself outside by the black lake. It seemed that his legs had unconsciously taken him to his favorite spot to think. He had always loved this spot by the lake under the tree. No one ever came here and it was quite, just the way he liked it. The more he thought about it the better a spot it seemed to hide out, at least for a little while. Maybe Ron would forget all about what he saw in the morning. Sitting down underneath the tree Harry quickly fell asleep. His body could take no more, he was utterly exhausted.
Then the rain that had been threatening all day finally came pouring down heavily. It was not one of those light warm rains either it was a cold hard rain. Never the less Harry did not wake, he slept on getting soaked to the bone.
Minerva's worry was increasing with every step she took. The paintings seemed to be little help. They could only point her in the direction Harry had gone that is if they had been awake and seen him. Unfortunately very few had seen the boy. To Minerva it seemed as if she had searched every inch in the castle and still Harry was nowhere to be found. Stopping for a second she closed her eyes took a breath to gather her thoughts. Where would Harry be? Where had she seen him the most? That was most likely where he would go.
Her thoughts gathered she opened her eyes Minerva started running. She knew where Harry was. Outside under the tree by the black lake. If she recalled correctly that was his special spot. Always escaping to it whenever he got a chance.
Opening the front doors to Hogwarts she looked outside. It was pouring rain, damn. If Harry had been out here all this time he must be freezing. Even though Minerva was an older lady that didn't mean she couldn't run, and run she did. As fast as she could, she ran out to the black lake to where she thought Harry might be. She had to get to him fast before he froze to death.
Reaching the tree through the pouring rain Minerva spotted Harry under the tree. As soon as she got to Harry's side she fell to her knees and gave Harry a good look over. He was asleep, pale as a ghost and shivering like he had been hit with a Cruciatus Curse.
It looked like she had gotten here just before the frostbite set in, one piece of good news. Casting a feather light charm on Harry she scooped him up into her arms and took off for the castle as fast as she could. Even though frostbite had not set in that didn't mean that Harry wasn't in tough shape.
When she reached the castle doors she burst through and cast a patronus charm for both Albus and Poppy letting them know that she was on her way. She would head to Albus's rooms instead of the hospital wing. Albus's quarters had an extra bedroom and was more private than the hospital wing. The last thing Harry needed was more attention, she knew how he hated that and wanted to spare him of prying eyes.
Reaching the gargoyle to Albus's office it opened automatically for her and Albus appeared. Albus never had looked worse for wear and Minerva didn't blame him one bit. She was not doing the best herself at the moment. As soon as Albus spotted Harry he had taken him into his arms and rushed to the spare bed he had ready for him.
Albus gently set Harry down on the bed. He then grabbed all the blankets near and tucked them around Harry, casting warming charms as he went. He had to warm Harry up, he had been out in the rain for far too long.
The next moment Poppy arrived and she shoved Albus out of the way to began tending Harry herself. Seeing that Harry was in good hands he turned to his dear friend.
"Minerva you're soaking wet. Come lets us get you dry and warm. We don't need you getting sick."
Minerva hated to admit it, but she was cold. She was even shivering. So she nodded her head and accepted Albus's help. Albus led her to the bathroom and summoned some fresh clothes for her. "Take a shower Minerva. Warm up and get changed. You did well tonight my dear friend."
Before she shut the door to the bathroom, she turned around and looked at Albus. "After Ron Weasley told me Harry had run away, he told me of some of his other concerns." Minerva now had tears in her eyes. "His exact words were "I think there is something more to this then what's on the surface." Do you think he's right Albus? Do you think there could be more?"
Not caring that Minerva was soaking wet Albus pulled her forward into a hug. "I don't know my dear, not until I talk with Harry. Please go take care of yourself first though. Harry won't wake for a while now and he is in good hands." Leaning back Albus looked Minerva over. "It will be ok Minerva. It will be ok." Minerva nodded and went into the bathroom to get herself warmed up.
With Minerva seen to he went back to Harry's side. A glare came from Poppy, but other than that she said nothing as he sat in the chair next to Harry's bed. Gently Albus grabbed Harry's small hand with both of his. Feeling swelling on the boy's hot skin he looked down at the smaller hand in his and saw what it said. Albus closed his eyes and let out a deep breath. When he opened his eyes again he looked over at the face of the sleeping boy.
"Who did this to you Harry? What happened? Why didn't you come to me?" Unfortunately, those questions could not be answered at the moment and he would have to wait for his answers.