A/N: Thanks to those of you who reviewed and NOT flamed. I remember telling you that I have a low self-confidence. Well, that's an understatement. I have absolutely NO self-confidence. That's why I'm continuing this fic. To improve in that area.

OliviaKatetheGreat Wow! That's an appreciative wow. Harry and Dave won't be friends in the near future. Perhaps in years to come...

Disclaimer: Not mine...

Chapter 9: Late Night Wanderings

Harry tried to make it out of the damp corridors of the spooky dungeons as quickly as possible. He didn't want to experience another encounter with Wilkes and Wells so soon after yesterday's fright as the said boys had shoved him into a broom closet Harry had not noticed before to threaten him with some words as effective as, "you won't be so lucky the next time around," and "you can't escape us forever, Mudblood," with their rotten logic of "if you're not a pureblood, then you're as good as a Mudblood." The funny thing was that Wilkes' right hand was wrapped in a thick bandage for the past week and Harry guessed he had something to do with it, especially with the way he kept his distance.

Harry didn't remember much of the night he had been attacked in his own bed at Hogwarts, but the following morning when he had woken up, he'd found himself disheveled with his pajama top unbuttoned. After emptying the pitiful contents of his stomach, Harry had taken his longest bath ever, taking great pleasure in scrubbing the skin off his chest until it was red and raw. So much so that it still stung after almost a week, reminding Harry time and again of what had happened and what would probably happen if he weren't careful enough.

Harry was breathless by the time he made it out of the dungeons, but he didn't stop until he was in the safety of Hogwarts' big library, settled in his cozy corner which hadn't been disturbed again after his last conversation with Granger. Before getting to his homework, Harry took out the last letter his mother had sent him.

Dear Harry,

I'm really happy for you. It's great to know you've made friends, no matter which House they're from. I'm sure Neville could be a great friend. Back in school, his mother was a great person to have around. I particularly like this Hermione girl you wrote about. She sounds like a smart girl and is worth befriending. I like to know more about them.

As for your marks, I'm proud of you, love. I'm sure your Potions' making will improve if you concentrate on what you're brewing. Don't worry about Defense either. I know your father can be a jerk when he wants to, but it doesn't matter as long as you get a passing mark. Don't push yourself too much for his approval. You're great the way you are.

Everyone at the Ministry misses you already, most of all Moody. He's asking about you every other day, trying to make sure you haven't changed your plans for future. He asked me to give you his regards. Uncle Sirius also wanted you to know he's coming to Hogwarts on Sunday. He expects to see you in private. Just wait for him.

Mr. Weasley was complaining the other day that Ginny hasn't been herself lately. I have a hunch what this is all about. I'm sure she's not going to reject you because of your House, love. Give her time and she'll come around.

Uncle Remus wants to hear from you too. I hear he hasn't got a single letter from you since you started Hogwarts. He knows you're in Slytherin and he doesn't have any problem with it. He said so himself. Don't let the poor man wait any longer. You know how much he loves you.

Lots of love,

Mom

P.S. Send me word if you needed anything.

Harry felt guilty for lying to his mother, but deep down, he thought of it as retaliation for his mother's lie about his holy wand, although he knew it was ungrateful of him to think that. He had written to his mother that he'd made friends with Neville Longbottom – he thought his mother would like him to befriend Longbottom considering she knew his grandmother – and Hermione Granger – she was the only student he'd had a 'decent' conversation with, for lack of a better word.

Harry had also lied to his mother about his Defense and Potions marks, saying that he got passing marks if not good marks. He hadn't written anything about Ginny. His mother's words implied that Ginny knew he was a Slytherin and didn't like it. He guessed Ron had told his sister which House Harry had been Sorted into. She was bound to find out one day and Harry wasn't angry at Ron for doing it in his stead, even though he was depressed at the thought of losing the one friend he had.

Harry put the letter aside since he didn't know what to write this time. He didn't like to lie again, but he knew he had to if he didn't want his mother to get worried more than she already was.

Scattering different Defense books around himself, Harry decided to do his Defense essay. He didn't know why he wanted his essay to be perfect after the marks he'd got on his first two essays, or lack of marks to be exact. His father had just crossed the essays with red ink. It was obvious he had not read them but the name on top. Harry was almost done with the essay when someone invaded his privacy.

"Everywhere else is full," Granger said in a pitiful attempt to lie. It seemed to Harry that she couldn't lie to save her life as he meaningfully glanced at the only table in view which was soul-free.

"I need some of these books to do my essay," Granger said, motioning to the scattered Defense books on the table.

"Make yourself at home," Harry said sarcastically. He knew it wasn't needed. Granger didn't seem the type to need invitations or pleasantries. Even her housemates didn't seem to be fond of her. Not that Harry's were of him.

Ignoring Granger, Harry tried to finish his essay. It was a great feat, considering the always chattering girl who liked to know everything and sounded like a know-it-all, though Harry wasn't about to tell her any of this.

"Who's Ginny? A Weasley, I suppose?"

Harry's head snapped up at the question, wondering how Granger knew about Ginny. Perhaps she really knew everything, Harry thought, but it was soon contradicted as Harry's eyes fell on the parchment in her hands. It was his mother's letter.

"You have no right reading my letter," Harry said, snatching the parchment out of her hand.

"I already did," Granger said simply. "I didn't know I was your friend."

"You're not," he almost yelled.

"Your mother begs to differ. What did you write her about me?"

Harry wanted to yell at Granger to leave him alone, but he thought better of it. It wouldn't do to show weakness.

"None of your business," he said in a low voice, tucking the letter in his pocket. "I'm done with my Defense essay. You can have the books all to yourself."

"Can I read your essay?" Granger asked in a teacher-like mood.

"I didn't know you were a cheating type," Harry drawled, making the girl roll her eyes.

"I'm not," she snapped. "For your information, I've done my essay."

"So you don't need any of these books," Harry concluded, closing and putting the scattered books together. "What is it you want, then? Ask away and be done with it. I have more important things to do than waste my time away with you."

"Professors McGonagall and Sprout looked delighted by your essays," Granger said after a few moments of silent anger. Transfiguration taught by the stern Professor McGonagall and Herbology taught by Professor Sprout were the only classes they had together, aside from Defense, and the two Professors were truly pleased with the essays Harry had turned in. Professor McGonagall had even gone as far as comparing Harry with his mother.

"So what?" Harry asked, urging the girl to go on.

"You spend most of your time in the library," Granger went on, unfazed by Harry's harsh tone. "I bet you skip half of the meals. Just like this morning. You didn't turn up for breakfast."

"Why is it of your concern?"

"I'm your friend, remember."

Friend, my foot, Harry thought as he rolled his eyes.

"Why do you study so much?" Granger asked when she didn't receive a reply from Harry aside from the rolling of his eyes.

"Why do you?" Harry asked back.

"I'm used to it. Books are my friends, I guess. It's your turn now," she said, raising an eyebrow for Harry to answer her question.

"We Slytherins are ambitious. We do anything to be great," Harry said, even though he didn't like to put himself in the same category with the other Slytherins, but he had no intention of telling her about his father. He knew what Granger's problem was. She liked to be better than everyone and Harry was a hard rival to beat.

"Look, let's make a deal," Harry went on before Granger had the time to make a comment. "I'll let you read my essay and you in turn will leave me alone. How does that sound to you?"

"Fine," she extended her hand for the essay.

"Be quick with it. I'd like to enjoy my end of the deal as soon as possible," Harry said quite rudely before he got up to put the books away.

True to her word, Granger left Harry after she was done reading his essay without a further comment, giving Harry his privacy back. When it was time for lunch, Harry couldn't ignore the knot in his stomach and left for the Great Hall. He tried to be finished with his food as quickly as possible and took something with him in case he couldn't make it to dinner which was proved useful when it was time to have dinner.

That night, Harry made it to the Slytherin Dungeon before curfew. It was Sunday the next morning and so he didn't have to be worrying about going back for a shower. He packed his book bag with the books he knew he would need and changed into some clean clothes. He then left for the Common Room and sat in a corner, occupying himself with his Potions book. He wasn't actually reading, though. He was waiting for the Common Room to evacuate before he left. It was what he did every night since that night Wilkes and Wells had attacked him.

And then it was time for wandering around the magnificent castle, trying to find a secluded area for the night. He had to be as stealthy as possible if he didn't want to be caught outside his dormitory after curfew. The moving staircases were another problem, especially after ending up in a dark spider-webbed room to be verbally attacked by Peeves, Hogwarts' poltergeist, and almost get caught. It didn't matter where he slept as long as he was safe. Even a lavatory would do wonders. Mrs. Norris, the caretaker's cat, was Harry's main problem. It was easier to get away from human beings than Filch's cat. Even Professor Snape with his stealthy movements didn't produce the fear in Harry which the blasted cat did.

Tonight, Harry was about to explore the fifth floor. He made his way out of the Common Room when he was sure no one would notice his absence. He had to be extra-careful about Landon. He passed the corridors one by one, fear gripping at his heart like a climber would do the rope. It was always the scariest part of his trip since there was no way to hide or flee if he were discovered. He was lucky that it had never happened, but he didn't think he would always be lucky.

His way out of the dungeons was unbelievably quiet. There were no Filch, Mrs. Norris or Professor Snape around to slow Harry down.

Lightening his wand, Harry made his way up the stairs, but he stopped at the second floor when he heard some disturbing noise. His heart skipped a bit before he realized there was no threat. Someone was crying nearby.

Harry strained his ears to find the source as he made his way into the corridor, stopping at different doors to check inside. Some of the doors were locked and required the Unlocking Charm which Harry had learned during summer in order to open his mother's locked closet with her wand and look for his own wand. It hadn't helped him at the time. Not only hadn't he found the wand, but also he was punished by washing the dishes for a whole wrenching week. He was lucky his mother hadn't taken his books away.

Harry didn't stop at any door more than it was needed before he made it to the next. They were all empty. Harry was halfway through the corridor when he realized where the sound was coming from. It was coming from the girls' lavatory which had a large OUT of ORDER sign on it; Harry had passed it without a second thought when he was searching the second floor for a nightly bedroom.

Probably a homesick first-year, Harry thought. Curious to know who it was, he opened the door slightly, stopping when it creaked. He peeked in when the girl didn't stop crying, but could see no one around, even though the floor was flooding with water and a few of the faucets were running. Taking a look around the dark corridor, Harry pushed the door open and entered. He looked around the lavatory, using his wand for light, to find the crying girl in a corner hovering above the floor by a few inches. He stared at the ghost for a few seconds before he decided to talk.

"Hello there," he said in a low voice. The ghost stopped crying for a moment and looked at him before silver tears started running down her see-through cheeks again.

"Can I help you?" Harry asked politely.

"No one can help me," the ghost wailed. "I'm a lonely miserable girl stuck here. No one wants to spend time with me. They all tease me, calling me ugly. They don't even use this toilet anymore."

"What's your name?"

"Myrtle, but everyone calls me Moaning Myrtle 'cause I'm always crying," she added a sob for effect. Harry frowned as he thought of the sign on the door and Myrtle's earlier comment.

"Can I stay here for the night?" he asked after a full minute of contemplating. To his astonishment, the ghost stopped crying altogether, looking at Harry in disbelief.

"Why do you want to stay in a girls' bathroom?" Myrtle moaned after a few seconds.

"I need somewhere to stay for the night," Harry replied with a one-shoulder shrug. "I can understand if you don't want company, of course. It's all up to you. I'd better leave, I guess. Thanks, anyway," he added when the ghost remained quiet.

"You want to stay with me?" Myrtle looked at Harry through her thick pearly spectacles as she smoothed her lank hair in a dreamy way.

"I don't take much of a space, I promise. I just need a corner to sleep in at night. I'll try not to be a bother and stay out of your way if that's what you want," Harry said desperately. He was really tired of the late night wanderings. He didn't care if he slept in a gloomy girls' bathroom haunted by a miserable ghost if it meant he could have a night of undisturbed sleep away from Peeves and Mrs. Norris. Perhaps Moaning Myrtle's presence could keep them away.

"I'm beginning to like you, you know. I'll share this bathroom with you if you promise to come by again," Myrtle said, cheering up a bit. Nodding his head, Harry closed the faucets one by one as the ghost giggled nonstop. He knew he would soon succeed in casting the protective enchantments he was working on, but the ghost didn't need to know that for the time being.

"Is it okay if I sleep over there?" Harry asked tentatively, pointing to a one-meter high platform which really needed to be cleaned, but could do for the night. Receiving a nod, He lay on the platform, using his book bag as a pillow, and was soon asleep, too tired to listen to Moaning Myrtle's babbling as she complained about the many students who teased her.

The next morning when Harry woke up, he was aching all over like every other morning in the past week. He smelled a bit too, but he didn't want to go back to the Slytherin Dungeon to take a bath. After a quick conversation with Myrtle in which Harry thanked her and promised to come back at night, he slung his book bag on his shoulder and righted his clothes. He checked his face in the cracked mirror by his side, trying desperately to smooth out his messy hair and hide the lightening-bolt scar like he always did before he left the bathroom, thinking all the time that he really needed to learn Cushioning and Cleaning Charms, but he knew the protective charms were more important at the moment.

After breakfast, Harry took refuge in the safety of Hogwarts' library again and to his great relief, Hermione Granger didn't enter his sanctuary this time. The deal had apparently worked to his interest and he wished it would remain so. After a bit of studying, Harry decided to write a letter to Uncle Remus. He knew he couldn't write to his mother at the moment and he thought it was cruel of him to delay his uncle's letter any longer.

The letter was short since there weren't many things to write and he was soon out of the castle, walking through the Stone Circle to the West Tower to deliver it through Hedwig. Sending the letter with Hedwig, Harry made his way down to the Hogwarts grounds. He was about to go back to the Castle when he saw some figures flying in the sky in the oval-shaped Quidditch pitch.

The first-year Flying lesson was supposed to take place in two weeks, after the Quidditch trials were done with, and Harry was anxious to fly again. He had gone flying while in his Uncle Remus' house a few times, but his mother didn't like the idea of her son traveling around the flat on his broomstick.

Feeling tired of studying, Harry decided to go and watch the three flying figures. He was almost at the pitch when he stopped in his tracks. The figures were disturbingly familiar and Harry realized he didn't want to know who they were, though it was inevitable given that he could make out the three from the short distance he was from the pitch. His father, brother and godfather were flying and passing a Quaffle to each other, laughing so hard that he could hear their laughter. They were so much wrapped up in their game that none of them noticed the first-year Slytherin watching them.

Harry felt a pang of jealousy in his heart as he watched them. His mother had written that his godfather was about to spend the day at Hogwarts and he knew he had to expect such a scene, but nothing could brace him for the joyful get-together. He wished he had stayed in the library the whole day just like he had the previous day, but it was too late as his godfather's eyes paused on him.

Taking a deep breath, Harry turned around and ran away before the other two would see him. He was breathless by the time he reached the castle's front door, but he didn't stop. He went on running even when he knocked a boy who was proved to be Neville Longbottom to the floor. He didn't even stop to apologize to the poor boy. He was about to go up the stairs when someone grabbed him from behind. He panicked and struggled to get free to no avail. He was almost convinced Wilkes had him all to himself when his attacker talked.

"Harry," Sirius called to the boy's surprise. In his haste, Harry hadn't realized he was being followed by the Animagus.

"Let me go," Harry said angrily. He wasn't sure why he was angry. He'd known all along that Uncle Sirius was a constant visitor of the Potters. He had seen his godfather besides his father and brother at King's Cross Station, but he had not felt such a pain. Betrayal, in Harry's mind, was the best word to describe it.

Sirius turned him around to look at his face and Harry turned his head to the side, too hurt to look his godfather in the eyes.

"Harry, please look at me," Sirius said, squeezing Harry's arms.

"I don't want to see you anymore."

"I was about to come and see you after lunch, Harry."

"I don't care," Harry spat, looking at his uncle for the first time. "You'd better go back before they get suspicious and come looking for you."

"I told James I've left something in his office," Sirius explained, angering Harry further.

"Then you can go and take it," Harry said, struggling in his godfather's arms. "Let go of me," he yelled. He wasn't ready for being granted his wish and fell to the floor when the hands were unwrapped from around his arms. He glared at Sirius before he got up and righted his book bag on his shoulder. His shoulder was killing him, but he had no intention of putting his bag down to rest.

"I need to talk to you, Harry."

"I have nothing to say," Harry said through gritted teeth.

"But I have."

Sirius extended a hand to touch Harry, but the boy took a step back.

"Then I don't want to listen," Harry said before he turned around and ran away, leaving the confused Auror behind.

A/N: I want to add only one thing. Don't get mad at Hermione for reading the letter. It was done out of curiosity and she will kind of apologize for that later. Next chapter, Harry will be back in his dormitory.

By the way, Wilkes didn't go further than touching Harry's chest. That burning sensation Harry felt was his accidental magic which stopped Wilkes before he could do anything. There will be NO rape either or anything similar to what happened in the previous chapter. I've had a somewhat similar experience, so I won't let Harry go through that. Should I really change the rating to M?