Mystery of the Mass Murderer
Defence Against the Dark Arts was rapidly becoming everyone's favourite subject. Professor Lupin clearly knew what he was doing in his classes, during the second week back, he covered another new magical creature with the Third Years: Red Caps, small dwarf-like creatures that sought out places where blood had been shed.
Emma's class was also interesting, Harry had ensured she and her friends knew plenty about using spells against magical creatures, but he had never managed to set up a scenario where they could personally test their spells against magical menaces.
"These are a simple pest to the average Wizarding Garden. They're called Gnomes." Said Lupin showing the class the strange little creatures with potato-like heads.
Professor Lupin taught the class about the Gnomes general habitats and nature. Then the class proceeded to learn, or in the case of Emma and her friends revise, the Flipendo Jinx. It was normally difficult to learn this in First Year, but Second Years had the advantage of considerably more experience casting magic so the class picked up the spell rather quickly.
Once that was done Lupin lead them to a disused classroom next door where he had set up a pen filled with gnomes.
"This is the Flipendo Spell Challenge, or at least my version of the Flipendo Spell Challenge. As you will notice the pen is completely filled with Gnomes and outside the pen there are five different coloured bins. I want you all to divide into five teams of four and for each team to fill their bucket with as many Gnomes as possible. Unlike garden Gnomes, this lot are quite feral creatures and they attack if you get too close, so you'll need to hit each one with a jinx in order to pick it up. This time next week I want you to hand in an essay on the Flipendo Jinx, as incentive the group who gets the most gnomes in their bin shall be exempt from this homework assignment." Said Professor.
Emma's Defence group looked around at each other, four of them were going to get no Defence Homework?
"Oh and Miss Potter, for the sake of fairness I'm going to have to ask that no more than two of your friends be in one group."
Emma pouted but Professor Lupin shook his head. So Miss Potter found herself with Demelza along with Ravenclaw Ruth Clearwater and Gryffindor Angus Matlock.
Angus was one of Colin and Geoffrey's dorm mates. Last year he teased Emma for protectively keeping Colin's seat free for him just after he was petrified. In response to that teasing, Geoffrey had punched him in the face. That was the only significant thing that had happened between Emma and the three boys in her House and Year that were not Geoffrey or Colin, so she had no idea how he'd perform in a duel or a Flipendo Challenge.
As it turns out, he did rather badly. While everyone in class had learnt the spell, Emma and her friends had spent countless hours with Harry perfecting their target practice. All of them except Colin had also been involved in a mass skirmish involving Acromantulae. Put simply there was a clear gap in skill levels.
Ruth actually performed pretty well all things considered. Her aim was not perfect but it was good enough to get considerably more Gnomes than most.
For Professor Lupin, it soon became clear that the winner would either be Emma and Demelza's team or Ginny's team; which consisted of her, the other two Gryffindor Boys (Sean Ogbourne and Carl Hopkins) and a Ravenclaw Boy called Eric Bradley. The three boys did not have very good aim and were not good at keeping an eye out for the Gnomes that were interested in attacking them.
Ginny on the other hand attacked and grabbed her Gnomes with a ferocity Lupin had rarely seen. At the end of the lesson she was only three Gnomes behind Emma and Demelza.
"Where is Harry?" said Emma after classes had finished at end of the Second Week.
"Don't know." Said Hermione. "He's been vanishing a lot lately, I think he's found another Practice Room to do his experiments. We've just been letting him go, I don't want to deprive him of another testing space, we kinda took this one from him."
"I guess not." Said Emma "He never said anything to us though…"
"He probably doesn't want us to think we hijacked this room from him, you're forgetting up until all of us started coming here a year ago this was his personal space." Said Hermione.
"Yeah he might not tell all of you that, but he'd tell me." Said Emma, feeling slightly hurt.
"Expecto Patronum!" Incanted Harry. Nothing happened.
Harry had been working on trying to learn a method to counter the effects of Dementors. After quite a bit of research he came across the Patronus Charm in a library book. Unfortunately it was amongst the most difficult of magic spells one could learn. It also didn't help that the instructions were vague.
Checking his watch, Harry realised he'd been in the Room of Requirement for several hours now and made no progress.
Sighing he sat down on a conveniently placed arm-chair, "I wish I had access to a better instructions for this spell." He said glaring at the book he'd acquired.
A second after he said that, pedestal rose up out of the floor next to him, carrying a book with it. Harry lifted the book up, and the pedestal retreated into the ground. It was a rather old document. Upon closer inspection Harry discovered it was actually someone's notebook.
An analytical study of the formulaic properties of a corporeal Patronus.
By Professor Winston Lawrence.
Wednesday 9th October 1935
The notes contained extremely complex mathematical calculations as well as notes on the six elements and the mathematical formulae for each of them plus another for a spell. The Patronus Charm.
Harry was a bit perplexed as to why the room gave him this. These instructions were definitely more detailed but it looked more like magical research, research that he could not comprehend at this stage in his education, not until he learnt more about Arithmancy and Elemental Magic.
Nevertheless Harry decided to keep the notes for now, he was relieved to find when he exited the Room of Requirement that they didn't disappear from his hand.
"There you are Brother of mine." Said Emma, getting up from her seat in the Common Room. "Where are you these days?"
"Oh." Said Harry. "I found somewhere to practice Defence spells, I didn't want to accidentally hurt someone in our clubhouse."
Emma looked a bit guilty. "Sorry, we've kind of taken over your Practice Room, haven't we?"
"It's alright." Said Harry "It was my decision to have everyone round. Did I miss anything?"
"Well I still can't make mana." Said Emma.
"Mana?" said Harry "Didn't you just make some at Colin' over the summer? I thought…"
"Harry that took eight hours to make, where can I leave a cauldron for eight hours?"
"Moaning Myrtles Bathroom?" said Harry.
"Harry, every teacher in this school and Mr Filch knows we brewed Polyjuice in their last year, if I leave a cauldron running in there they'll empty it on site."
"Point." Said Harry. "Actually I wonder if you can use the room I found."
"Harry I can't risk leaving something in a classroom, who knows who could…"
"It's not a classroom. I'll take you there after dinner. It's brilliant."
"When the heck did you find this place?" said Emma as she looked around Practice Room mark 2.
"Well I've been trying to find it since last term, but I managed to enter the room for the first time last week." Said Harry.
"What got your attention to it in the first place though?" asked Emma.
"Dobby's dying words. Then Luna mentioned having found a room with a Vanishing Cabinet, that's a magical closet that leads you to another Vanishing Cabinet at another location, in a vast store room in the same place. She mentioned having walked back and forth several times but I didn't realise the entry method myself until last week." Said Harry.
"Can this become anything?" said Emma.
"As far as I can tell, it can't make food or drink, well except water, but it can become anything I want."
"Well can I try something?" said Emma.
"Sure." Said Harry.
After testing out the Room of Requirement with Emma, the two of them between them got a great idea to surprise everyone on the coming Sunday. It would take a lot of preparation but it was doable.
"Thanks Hagrid." Said Harry.
Hagrid had bought Harry three boxes of Butterbeer and some other things from the village at the young boy's request. He was picking the things up in Hagrid's hut, for some reason he'd insisted on escorting Harry from the Entrance Hall, but refused to elaborate on why.
"I don' know wha' ye plan on doin with tha flo'ur an' tha' eggs, jus' don' get me inte trouble fer it." said Hagrid, returning what was left of the money bag Harry had given him.
"It's for Hermione's birthday, I promise it's not for a prank, I'd never use you as an accessory for that." Said Harry.
"Right, right." Said Hagrid "Are ye sure ye don' want a han with those, they'll be heavy te carry?"
"Hagrid, we're wizards." Said Harry "Wingardium Leviosa!"
The three Butterbeer boxes, which were already tied together with a piece of cord, floated off the ground. Harry then tied the shopping bags to the cord, he was now ready to take his purchases through the castle. Magic was great.
Hagrid escorted Harry back to the Entrance Hall, just as Oliver Wood came down the stairs.
"There you are Harry, meet us on the pitch in twenty minutes, we're going to have a practice session."
"We are?" said Harry.
"Yes, see you there." Said Wood.
"Well at least he didn't suggest it tomorrow." Said Emma. When Harry told her he had to go to Quidditch.
"I don't care what he says, I am not practicing tomorrow, you can't prepare everything yourself."
"Relax Harry." Said Emma. "This is going to be great. I'll get the rest of the stuff we need from the kitchens, it was good of Fred and George to give us directions."
"Let's just hope they didn't deceive us." Said Harry.
"George maybe, but Fred can't deceive me." Smiled Emma.
"Go to Quidditch Practice Harry." Said Emma impatiently.
While Harry and his teammates assured Oliver that they would do everything possible to win the Quidditch Cup that year, Emma met up with Luna in the Entrance Hall.
"Thanks for helping us." Said Emma.
"That's quite alright." Said Luna "Why aren't you telling the others yet?"
"We want it to be a surprise, but Harry feels you have the right to see the room early since you helped him find it." Said Emma.
"That is very kind of him." Said Luna.
"That's Harry for you." Said Emma. "Between the two of us, we came up with this whole concept, I'm just glad we got all our friends to bring their clothes just in case."
"What did you tell them?" asked Luna.
"Just down here." Emma indicated a staircase leading to basement area. "We just told them to have tomorrow off from two o'clock. After that, the rest of the day is reserved for Hermione's party. Poor girl is working like mad to get all her work done in time."
"Perhaps Hermione is trying to reach too far, maybe she should cut back on classes and help me research Crumple-Horned Snorkacks." Said Luna.
"I think Hermione doing exactly what she wants, personally I think she's nuts to try and do every subject on offer but either she'll manage fine over this year and in others years to come or she'll have to give up one or two subjects. That choice is hers though." Said Emma.
"Is this the painting?" said Luna.
"Looks like it." Said Emma "According to the twins we need to tickle the pear. Care to do the honours?"
"Why thank you Emma, that is a most kind thing to say." Said Luna.
After getting over the shock that there was an absolute mass of House-Elves in the school, Emma and Luna carried the food items up to the Room of Requirement.
"I had no idea there were House-Elves in Hogwarts." Said Emma.
"It is a shame, but people rarely discuss the use of elves in Wizarding society. You read Hogwarts a History, did you see any mention?"
"None." Said Emma. "I just hope they aren't mistreated like Dobby was, you know with Filch here it wouldn't surprise me."
"I don't think they are abused." Said Luna "Professor Dumbledore is kind to everyone, even those of us who are not human, also you saw that they were a happy and cheerful group."
"I guess." Said Emma. "It's just… I wonder, if magic didn't exist, would I have ended up all wonky like Dobby as a result of living with the Dursleys?"
"That is a rather difficult question to answer." Said Luna "Your relatives hate magic, so if it didn't exist then they wouldn't have any reason to hate you. Also your parents wouldn't have been killed during the war as our world cannot exist without magic."
"Very true Luna." Said Emma. "I do wonder sometime though, if Dobby was beyond help, if we could have gotten him away from the Malfoys. He did hurt us and I can never forgive him for what he did to Harry or what he put Demelza through, you know she still occasionally remembers her elbow snapping. I can tell it really bothers her. But still."
"We will honour Dobby's sacrifice for as long as we shall live." Said Luna "The fact that he died for us, means that we will never forget him. All we can do is try to help other elves who are not so happy, and also those who are not House-Elves." Said Luna.
"That's why I like you so much Luna, you can always make me think positive. Just like when Harry and I discovered our… 'gift' from Voldemort." Said Emma with thoughts drifting to Parseltongue.
"You're welcome Emma." said Luna happily. "Do I get to see what this room look like now?"
Emma smiled. She walked back and forth in front of the wall three times.
"After you." She said.
Luna walked in and physically stopped with surprise. "Wow… Emma this is incredible."
"The best part is, after tomorrow, we can come back here again and again." Said Emma.
It had taken over a week of planning since Emma tested a theory in the Room of Requirement, both Potters had remained tight lipped about what they were doing, saying that it was a surprise. Then earlier in the week, they told everyone to keep Sunday afternoon free and meet them in the Common Room at two o'clock.
"Luna is just outside." Said Emma coming in to find Harry and all their Gryffindor friends. "I'm going to have to attend to the cake, so if you'll excuse me."
"Sure we'll meet you there." Said Harry
"Right where are Geoffrey and Colin?" asked Harry.
"Here." Called out Geoffrey, as the two of them descended from the staircase to the Boys Dormitories. "What's so special about this, why all the secrecy?"
"You'll see soon enough, but can everyone go and fetch your swimsuits and some towels?" said Harry, enjoying the looks that appeared on everyone's faces when he asked that.
Harry and Emma had really enjoyed swimming during their time at the Creeveys. There was a huge debate about whether Hogwarts could possibly have swimming facilities, Hermione had been amongst the most vocal of the doubters. Despite that though, she and all there other friends had agreed to pack their swimsuits just in case.
"Harry what are you doing?" said Ron, looking at his friend walking up and down in front of the wall.
"Prepared to be amazed." Said Harry.
"Whoa, where'd that door come from?" said Demelza.
"I'll explain once we're inside." Said Harry.
When they stepped into the room, all of them stood still and gasped in wonderment.
"Hey guys, so be honest what do you think?" said Emma.
None of them said anything, those who'd been brought up in the Magical World had never seen anything remotely like this before.
Emma had originally thought of turning the Room of Requirement into a simple swimming pool. But after a while thinking on the subject, she had decided to add more aspects here and there and, with Harry's input, they had turned the room into a small indoor water park. But they hadn't stopped there, Birthday parties needed food and drink. So Harry and Emma had requisitioned help from Hagrid and the Hogwarts kitchens to acquire some party food. That last aspect of the party was not ready yet and wouldn't be until dinner, but the sheer size of the complex was mind boggling.
"Harry, Emma this is incredible." Said Hermione. "But how is it possible?"
She looked out over the long wave pool that must be 30 meters long.
"That must extend about a dozen feet outside the castle, and the height of this place must be higher than this section of the school as well." Said Hermione.
"It's magic." Said Harry.
He then explained the Room of Requirement concept and how he and Emma had come with a plan for a birthday party.
"Harry this is brilliant, I never even knew that places like this existed in the Muggle world." said Ron "Forget the beach, let's find one of these next summer."
"We'll add it to the list of things to do, but I still want to go to the beach." Said Emma. "Now we need to find somewhere to change, oh!"
As the words escaped Emma's lips, two different sections of compartments sprung up.
Boy's Changing Rooms Girl's Changing Rooms
"Well that's convenient." Said Natalie.
After the initial shock of finding a room that could morph into an indoor Water Park, everyone began to enjoy themselves. As the Muggleborns who'd been to this sort of thing before, Demelza and Colin rushed down the ramp that led into the wave pool. The others followed not to long afterwards and the wave machine, or in this instance the magical wave device, activated and they spent the first hour or so just enjoying that feeling.
For the non-Muggleborns who had little experience with basic swimming pools the waves were exciting but it was nothing compared to the flooms. Ron in particular had fun using the tube slides, both with and without floats.
The twelve of them spent hours enjoying the thrills of a water park that only the Room of Requirement could provide for them.
"Emma where are you going?" said Hermione.
"To prepare the food, unless you'd rather have cold chips?" she joked.
"I'll give you a hand." She said.
"No stay." Said Harry "You've been working like crazy since term started, this is your birthday, you can help at the next birthday party."
He then got out and helped Emma as well.
Emma had just picked up a knife and was preparing to cut potatoes when Harry appeared behind her.
"You're a witch remember." He picked his wand up from the table and silently performed his severing charm.
"You just love doing that spell, don't you?" said Emma smirking. She lifted her own wand and incanted her own charm, albeit not silently.
"Kind of." Said Harry. "I hope Hermione likes our cake."
"I'm sure she will." Said Emma. "It's the food I'm worried about."
"It's a party, you need party food, you can't just make a roast beef dinner." Said Harry.
"I would like a roast beef, or lamb." Said Emma. "But you're right, no red wine."
After a while the chips; along with chicken nuggets; sausage rolls and a few small sized pizzas were taken out of the stove provided by the room. Between them, Harry and Emma placed the hot food on the table alongside some cold food to: sandwiches, cheese and pineapple sticks as well as crisps and some fairy cakes and a few other odds and ends.
"I'll sort out the drinks." Said Harry.
"Alright." Said Emma, she turned to pool and shouted "Children dinner time."
The protests from the water signalled to the Potters that the message was received.
Harry shook his head "You're still the baby here sis."
Emma turned to him and stuck her tongue out.
No one doubted that they would be back in the pool later on, so no one got dressed. Instead they dried off and draped warm towels over their swimsuit clad bodies before sitting down to enjoy the meal prepared for them by the Potters.
"Wow?" said Ron.
"Harry where on Earth did you get all of this?" said Hermione looking at the table before them.
"Hagrid bought some stuff for us in the village." Said Harry. "Including these." He indicated the Butterbeer."
"We got most of the rest from the kitchens, including the plates and cutlery." Said Emma. "The room provided the stove and we provided the levitation charms to get the stuff up here."
"This is incredible." Said Demelza "You two prepared all this by yourselves?"
"Yeah." Said Emma, she decided not mentioned that she and Harry had plenty of practice growing up. "We wanted to keep the room of requirement a secret so we could surprise you all."
"Well it is absolutely wonderful, thank you." Said Hermione pulling both of them into a hug.
After filling up on some not entirely healthy snacks, Harry and Emma brought out a courgette cake with cinnamon and walnut. As per tradition with Hogwarts cake, Harry had the distinct honour of cutting it with a severing charm, after everyone sung Hermione 'Happy Birthday' in a rendition that was distinctly less embarrassing than the previous year.
After they had eaten and drunk all they could, they spent an hour playing Magical Monopoly, just like Muggle Monopoly except the locations were in the Wizarding World (mostly Diagon Alley) and the figure pieces moved on their own accord and loudly protested whenever they got sent to Azkaban (jail). Additionally whenever someone had to pay the goblin (the banker) a fine or a tax, a tiny giggling goblin would jump up from his seat in the centre of the board and meticulously count out the fake galleons from the players stash.
Demelza also discovered to her shock that when she mortgaged her Flourish and Blotts property, a small pair of miniature goblin guards would rush out from the centre and stand by her building looking at her in a deviant manner that made her glad they were just animated objects.
They played the game only long enough to let their stomachs settle and then abandoned it to play in the pool a little longer.
"We need to head back soon." Said Harry. "It's not much longer until curfew."
They didn't have very long, so they used the Room of Requirement showers to get the smell of the pool out of their hair and off their bodies, deciding to have a proper wash in their Dormitory Showers.
"Fortuna Major!" said Colin. The Fat Lady's portrait pulled open allowing the Gryffindors into the Common Room with just ten minutes to spare.
"There you are." Said Percy walking over to them. "Professor McGonagall has been looking all over for you."
"What all of us?" said Emma.
"And Miss Lovegood, where were you all?"
"Celebrating Hermione's birthday." Said Emma. "Did something happen?"
"I'm not sure, its curfew now so you might as well see her tomorrow." Said Percy "It's my turn to do rounds, so I'll let her know you're back."
"I suppose we did effectively disappear out of sight." Said Harry "Tell her we're sorry, we didn't mean to worry her."
"Come on let's take a shower, I still stink of chlorine." Said Demelza.
"Same." Said Ginny "Good night Percy."
"Night Percy." Said Ron.
The others all bade the Head Boy good night.
He nodded and then left through the portrait.
"Whaa!" yelped Ron in surprise as he was pulling on his Pyjamas. His habit of discarding clothes randomly after use meant he had not yet found his Pyjama top when Professor McGonagall barged in to the Boys Dormitory.
"Potter, Weasley, Longbottom are you all here?" she demanded.
"Um… yes?" came Neville from the other side of his bed curtains, the only things keeping his naked form hidden as he was changing.
"I'm in here?" Harry called from the door to their shared toilet. He stuck his head out to reveal his toothpaste covered mouth. "Is something wrong?"
"Neither you, nor your friends have been seen since after Lunch." Said McGonagall. "We'd thought you left the school?"
"Well we didn't we were on the Seventh Floor, having a birthday party for Hermione. Why would we leave the school?"
"Well last year you wandered into the forest." Said Seamus.
"Not helpful Seamus…" said Ron, having forced an inside out t-shirt over himself.
"Still true though." Said Dean.
"Are you all back in Gryffindor Tower?" Said McGonagall.
"Yeah, well Luna's went back to Ravenclaw, we didn't follow her as curfew was only a few minutes away, but I'd imagine she's there now." Said Neville.
"Very well." Said Professor McGonagall. "I must check on your other friends. Good Night."
But Harry wasn't about to let her go just like that though. "Professor, is there something you want to tell us?"
McGonagall looked a bit shocked. "No Potter this isn't, good night."
She left before Harry could press her some more.
"What is with her?" said Ron. "She didn't even knock, no sense of privacy whatsoever."
"She looked worried for you three." Said Dean. "You have to admit she and the other teachers have gotten a little tetchy about you guys."
"Why though?" said Harry "There isn't a Chamber of Secrets or a Forbidden Third Floor Corridor, what's there for us to get into trouble for? Apart from the Dementors, but even we're not stupid enough to try and irritate them."
"Yeah that one on the train was bad enough." Said Neville emerging dressed from behind his curtains. "What could she possibly be worried about?"
"Well there is Sirius Black." Said Seamus.
"Why should she be worried about him?" said Harry "Hogwarts is one of the safest and most secure places in the world, if not the most, especially considering there are now Dementors patrolling the boundaries. There is also nothing to suggest Black will even come here, I mean why would he, what could he possibly want here."
"Probably something to eat." Joked Ron, as he poked some nuts and raisins through Scabbers Cage. "Come on you need to eat something."
"Well actually Black was spotted near here." Said Seamus.
Harry, Neville and Ron looked at him in shock.
"He was, when?" said Neville.
"Noon today. It was in a remote Muggle village in the middle of nowhere. A Muggle lady called the hotline and by the time the Ministry got there… it was all on the wireless this afternoon."
"How near here?" asked Harry.
"The radio just said twenty minutes, as the broom flies, from Hogsmeade." Said Dean. "Whatever that means."
"Oh nuts." Said Ron "If they think Black's coming here, does that mean Hogsmeade trips are off? I was looking forwards to that."
"Nah they wouldn't do that." Said Seamus "They wouldn't right?"
"I guess we'll wait and see." Said Harry.
"Harry have we done something incredibly stupid or dangerous since we got back to school?" said Emma.
"No Em' and before you ask I have no idea what's got the teachers so worried about us."
"They could just be freaked out after last year." Said Natalie.
"Maybe, but it doesn't feel like that." Said Emma "Something's up, something that's got them worried for us."
"And they won't tell us." Grumbled Ginny.
"Maybe we could try getting it out of Hagrid?" said Ron. "It's worked before."
"Ronald, we can't do that. He's distraught enough as it is with Buckbeak as it is." Said Hermione. "Anyway, he won't let us visit right now."
Just then Percy joined them at the table "Morning everyone." He said happily. "What did Professor McGonagall want with you last night?"
"She didn't say." Said Harry.
"Well you just have to trust that she has her reasons and to do as she says." Said Percy.
"That's the point though, she's not even telling us what to do. All we're doing is innocently going about our business. It's just every so often she or someone else acts like we've just endangered ourselves." Said Harry.
Percy frowned. "I'll try talking to her, she might be able to say something to a third party."
"Thanks Percy." Said Emma.
While Harry and the others had been unable to visit Hagrid, he and the other Third Years could still talk to him during their classes.
"It's no' safe, especially with them Dementors round." Said Hagrid "Sorry, bu' until they're gone, I'm not lettin' ye out o' the castle unescorted."
Harry sighed "How are things going with Buckbeak."
Hagrid looked sad. "It's no' good. Tha' board of governors is considerin' whether I was at fault an' whether Buckbeak should be put before tha' Ministry fer what happened." Said Hagrid.
"But it was Malfoy's fault they can't do anything to you or Buckbeak." Said Harry.
"Doesn' matter. Tha' Committee fer tha' Disposal o' Dangerous Creatures is in Lucius Malfoy's pocket. As soon as Beaky goes before them they'll…"
The conversation had to stop there, because Hagrid was in danger of losing control of his emotions whilst running his class.
"Malfoy is definitely getting hexed for this." Grumbled Emma.
"I'll give you hand." Said Ginny.
"But we have to do something." Said Hermione. "It's not fair, Malfoy's still strutting around with that stupid bandage."
"Hagrid said the Committee will bend to Lucius Malfoy's will." Said Harry.
"Then we need to keep Buckbeak away from the Committee." Said Luna.
"How?" Said Harry. "Wait, we need to keep the governors from referring him, that's it."
"What?" said Neville.
"Hagrid said that the Governors were looking into whether he or Buckbeak were at fault during the class. We need to convince them that Hagrid is not to blame and neither is Buckbeak."
"Hagrid will be no problem." Said Hermione "Professor Dumbledore would personally testify to his character."
"But what about Buckbeak?" said Ron.
"That's harder. Even Dumbledore can't testify as a character witness to a Hippogriff." Said Hermione.
"You four were in the class." Said Luna "You could testify that Malfoy was at fault."
Harry thought for a minute "That's actually a good point, Hagrid clearly said that Hippogriffs should not be insulted. Malfoy was forewarned that he could have been clawed at."
"But he wasn't paying attention." Said Ron.
"Which is further proof that Malfoy was at fault, he deliberately ignored a warning." Said Hermione.
"So if we can convince the Board of Governors that Hagrid was not at fault?" Said Ron.
"Um I hate to put a damper on things…" said Natalie. "But Lucius Malfoy is a petty man who doesn't accept defeat that easily. Even if we convince the Governors, what's to stop him from complaining to the Ministry directly? According to my Gran and my Uncle, he's been known to use his influence at the Ministry to get himself out of trouble several times whilst getting those he doesn't like into it at the same time."
"It's not that simple." Said Luna. "If the Governors back both Hagrid and Buckbeak then the Committee for dangerous creatures will not be able overrule that decision without drawing heavy scrutiny from others areas at the Ministry. While Mr Malfoy has influence over much of the Ministry, he also has a lot of enemies who would be interested in observing proceedings."
Natalie nodded. "That's true, Uncle Kingsley said that his boss would dearly love to get Malfoy arrested for something, if he thought Malfoy was trying to blackmail or bribe the Committee for Dangerous creatures, then Law Officers and Aurors would scrutinize every aspect of the proceedings for anything they could find."
"I don't really understand, but what you're saying is that if we can get the Governors on our side there is a good chance Hagrid and Buckbeak will be safe?" said Ron.
"It seems like it." Said Hermione.
"Any ideas how we're going to do that?" said Harry.
"I have one, but you're not going to like it." Said Hermione.
"Well let's hear it." Said Harry.
"We – that is me, you, Ron and Neville – write to the Board of Governors. We all write a joint letter and we all sign it. Particularly you Harry, they will probably be more interested in our letter if you sign it."
Harry didn't like it, but didn't take much convincing, if it helped out Hagrid then it was worth it.
What Harry didn't realise was that he and the others would get summoned.
"Messrs Potter, Weasley, Longbottom and Miss Granger." Said Professor McGonagall one Thursday Lunchtime. "Could you four please present yourselves in my classroom after lessons today?"
The four Third Years entered Professor McGonagall's classroom to find her, Professors Dumbledore and Snape and middle-aged woman with greying brown hair.
"Ah good you're here." Said Dumbledore, "Please take a seat."
Harry and his friends sat down.
"Allow me to introduce Madam Clara Dorr, chair witch of the Hogwarts Board of Governors." Said Dumbledore.
"Which of you is Mr Potter?" she asked, though she was looking directly at Harry.
"I am." Said Harry.
"It is a pleasure to meet you." She said "I'm here in regards to the letter you wrote to the board the other day.
"We all wrote that letter." Said Harry. "It wasn't just from me."
"I am aware of that but you are Harry Potter."
Snape scoffed, drawing everyone's attention.
"Something you wish to add Severus?" said Dorr.
"No Madam Dorr." He said irritably.
"Then kindly shut up." She snapped.
Ron sniggered slightly but hurriedly covered it up as a cough as both McGonagall and Snape were glaring at him.
"Madam Dorr, there are students present, could we please proceed with this matter." Said McGonagall.
Dorr looked to McGonagall and smiled. "Of course Minerva." She turned back to Harry and his friends "Now Mr Potter in regards to your letter. You wrote to us and conveying support for Professor Hagrid in regards to a complaint recently filed against him and his beast dependant."
"Yes." Said Harry.
"In your letter you gave details of what happened in the lesson, you stated that Professor Hagrid gave instructions on how to approach and interact with a Hippogriff and that the student who was injured, ignored those instructions and provoked the Hippogriff which lead to the attack."
"Yes." Said Harry.
"Mr Potter this account is considerably different to the account Mr Malfoy gave. Can you please explain why?" said Madam Dorr.
"Well I don't know what Malfoy told you but…" Harry stopped talking.
"Let's just say that my friends and are not unbiased when it comes to Malfoy." Said Harry.
"I'll bear that in mind, now your insight?" said Madam Dorr.
"Well Malfoy, in my… our opinion… is completely full of himself. He's very good at making enemies and he likes to antagonise them and cause problems."
"It's a bit rich of you to call someone like Draco full of…" began Snape.
"Severus." Said Professor Dumbledore warningly.
"Professor Snape, I am well aware of your animosity towards your former classmate and his son here, but to Mr Potter's credit he did admit to having an unbiased view, something you might wish to think about in future." Said Dorr irritably. "Now Mr Potter, are you absolutely certain that Professor Hagrid's instructions were clear? There is no chance that they were unclear and young Mr Malfoy could have received his injury as a result of the instructions?"
"I am absolutely sure." Said Harry "Hagrid… Professor Hagrid had me demonstrate personally for the class whilst giving out the instructions. I managed to interact with the Hippogriff without getting injured by it at all."
"Was this the same Hippogriff that attack Mr Malfoy?" asked Dorr.
"Yes it was. Professor Hagrid specifically warned us that Hippogriffs don't like to be insulted and that to do so was dangerous. Malfoy ignored that warning though." Said Harry.
"He specifically said that insulting Hippogriffs was dangerous?" checked Dorr.
"Yes." Said Harry.
"His precise words were: "do not insult a Hippogriff or make to demean him in any way, because it may be the last thing you ever do." Quoted Hermione.
Dorr looked to her then to Harry "Mr Potter is that true?"
"Yes." Said Harry.
"Would you say Mr Malfoy's actions were demeaning?" asked Dorr.
"Potter considers anyone not worshiping him demeaning." Stated Snape.
"Severus, please keep your comments to yourself." Snapped Dorr. "Mt Potter?"
"Malfoy specifically called Buckbeak, the Hippogriff, 'a great big ugly brute' a couple of seconds later the Hippogriff scratched him."
"I see." Said Dorr. "Thank you Mr Potter, you may go."
Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville left the classroom.
"Well at least she seems to believe us." Said Ron.
"She was really rude though." Said Hermione. "It was like the three of us weren't even there."
"Well at it looks like Hagrid will be ok at least." Said Neville.
"Let's just hope the Malfoys don't try anything to make Hagrid's life difficult." Said Harry. "Even if the Board of Governors don't hold up the complaint, he can still go complain to the Ministry on his own."
Time passed and September ended and October began. Harry's ability to understand Winston Lawrence's research on the Patronus Charm was limited but not without progress.
From what Harry could tell, Lawrence had concluded that current instruction on the charm was flawed and that the universal understanding of it was flawed. But Harry had difficulty understanding what was flawed.
It didn't help Harry that the Patronus Charm in of itself was hard to understand. According to all the books Harry read, it could only be incanted using positive emotions. However texts disagreed on what emotions actually power the charm. Some argued that it was any basic happy memory, others argued that it was memories of love, a third argued that it was powered by… more dirty-minded thoughts bordering on deviant, but that was largely denounced by academics in Defensive Magic.
Lawrence seemed to think that the Charm was powered by a caster's magic with the aid of an Elemental Trigger, which made no sense to Harry.
Despite what Lawrence thought though, Harry had made progress. Using other advice, he'd focused on his happy memories and had managed to produce a cloud of smoke, but there was no sign of a shield or, what he truly hoped for, a Corporeal Patronus.
"Expecto Patronum!" said Harry again. This time, a shield emerged from the tip of his wand and lasted less than a second before it fluttered out of existence.
Harry felt exhausted. He collapsed into a nice comfy chair graciously provided for him by the Room of Requirement. There was no way he could do anymore magic today.
He once more picked up Lawrence's notes and looked through them, but they made even less sense to him now than they had two hours ago when he last looked at them.
"The notion that happy memories power the Patronus Charm is at its basis flawed." Harry read from the text.
Harry once more looked at the front of the book.
"1935?" he said "The man's probably dead by now, pity I can't ask him. I wonder what sort of person he was like?"
Harry looked at his watch, it was getting on in the day. It was a Sunday so, per tradition, Harry had locked himself away to learn more about Defensive Magic. The only difference these days was, Harry used the Room of Requirement and his friends and sister used the Practice Room for their own purposes, mainly doing homework and playing games.
Harry decided to try and see what he could find out about Winston Lawrence. That meant a trip to the Library.
Madam Pince glared down at Harry, much like she did whenever she interacted with students.
"Why do you wish to find out more about this Winston Lawrence?" she asked inquisitively.
Harry had no idea why she was being so nosy "I read something he published recently and I want to know more about him, particularly what he researched."
Pince held a glare at Harry for about ten seconds before she turned away and began typing into a typewriter that had no paper or parchment in the role. A few seconds later, a quill on the Librarian's desk began writing information on a sheet of parchment. When it had finished, Madam Pince tore off the sheet and gave it to Harry.
"This is a list of all the books, Lawrence authored and books with his articles published inside. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm rather busy."
Harry thanked her and walked off. He made it past a couple of bookshelves before he heard a rustle of paper behind him and turned around to see Madam Pince sitting back with a copy of the Sunday Prophet.
Harry carefully extracted the tombs from the shelves. One of the books Lawrence published was in 1932 and that was the newest Harry could find. The rest were all written between 1910 and 1930. The books were mostly on Defence Against the Dark Arts, though one or two had chapters relevant to Ancient Runes and Arithmancy as well but they still focused on Harry's favourite subject. However there was very little work concerning the Patronus Charm, what little there was seemed to be the same instruction that were in every other Defence text Harry had read. But Harry did not fail to notice that the texts, and the essays published in the other works were all dated before his Patronus Paper.
However one of the texts that Harry found was a republished copy from the 1960s. The text did not say much, just that he was a Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts until his death in January 1936.
Harry got back to the Common Room with the Lawrence books and once more found Professor McGonagall waiting there. She did not approach him this time, but she did look at him with relief and then walked out.
"She was looking for you again, before you ask." Said Fred.
"We would make jokes about this, but she really seems worried about you and Emma for some reason." Said George.
"Don't suppose you know the reason?" Harry asked.
"We can speculate." Said Fred
"I thought as much." Said Harry.
"Although, while she was here she did put up a notice. The First Hogsmeade trip is in on Halloween." Said George "Awe look that's perked up ickle Harrikins."
Harry was indeed looking excited, he blushed and looked to the floor at the twins' declaration.
"What's got my brother excited?" said Emma coming into the Common Room with Demelza, Ginny and Colin.
"Hogsmeade." Said Harry. "First visit is on Halloween."
"Lucky you." Said Emma smiling.
"Oh and while you're here Harry, Wood's scheduled a practice tomorrow after classes." Said George.
"Another one?" groaned Harry. The Quidditch Match against Slytherin was just over a month away and Wood had doubled the number of practices during the week. At the start of term he had begun with just two practices after class during the week and an all-day practice on Saturdays. He wanted to set one up on Sunday as well but Harry had put his foot down and told him that was out of the question. Sunday was his day for research, and he refused to give it up.
"You could threaten to resign again." Suggested Fred.
"Shut up." Said Harry, it had literally taken that threat to keep his Sundays Quidditch free.
"As most of you will be aware, the first trip to Hogsmeade will be in just under three weeks. In order to go, I shall need you each to hand in your permission slips. If you do not hand in your slip you can't go."
"I think I left mine at home." Said Neville.
"Your Grandmother sent yours along by owl during the summer Longbottom." Said McGonagall. "The rest of you have until two weeks this Friday or you will miss the first outing."
Later that evening Harry and his friends collected their forms and were about to leave the Common Room and head to Professor McGonagall's office.
"Oi Potter." Shouted Wood. "Quidditch practice, now."
Harry growled, "Hermione could you kindly?" he handed his slip to her.
She smiled, "Go, I'll tell Emma to ready the Murtlap Essence."
"Thanks." Said Harry, heading back to his dormitory to get his Quidditch gear.
As it turned out Parvati, Lavendar, Dean and Seamus all had the same thought regarding their forms and went with the other three to their Head of House's office. Professor McGonagall thought she got seven forms when in actual fact she got eight. It was not her job to put the Hogsmeade lists together, it was Filch's. So she sent the forms off to the Caretaker to form the list, completely unaware that Harry's was amongst them.
As they were facing off against the Slytherin team again, Oliver was having them practice the same counter tactics they'd learnt at the start of the previous year in order to play against fast racing brooms like the Nimbus 2001. As such, like the previous year, Harry and the others came back to the Common Room with distinctly less skin on their knees than was considered comfortably desirable.
"Right Mr Potter, take a seat." Said Emma when Harry walked in.
"Wouldn't Miss Potter prefer if I showered first?" Harry asked.
"Harry, its best if I treat that now, Madam Pomfrey says the longer it's left, the more chance it gets infected. Besides, you don't want that horrid stinging feeling whilst you're washing in hot water." Said Emma.
"You do realise you're going to have to do this tomorrow as well?" said Harry as his sister smeared the paste on his wounds.
"Yes. Right you're done, who's next?" said Emma. Both twins were standing in front of her with bloodstains on their legs, as well as bruises on their arms. "Right Fred, you first."
One of the twins proceeded to walk forward.
"No, I said Fred."
The twin looked shocked. "I am Fred." He said "How can you mistake me for my ugly twin brother."
"My apologies George." Said Emma. "Fred, let me see you knees. I'll deal with your ugly brother second."
The other twin grinned and walked up to Emma.
"How can you tell them apart." Said Lee as he approached them.
Emma shrugged "Fred's cuter."
"Oh am I. Yeow." He shouted as Emma slapped one of his cuts.
"Cuter?" said Lee "They look exactly the same to me."
"That's because they look exactly the same, they're twins." Said Emma.
"But how come…" began Lee.
"Don't bother, she won't even tell me." Said Ginny looking up from her book. "She's told Harry though."
"I have not told Harry." Said Emma. "He just already knows."
"I don't understand." Said Lee.
"You're not meant to." Said Emma "Now Fred go and shower, it's your ugly brother's turn."
"OOOH!" said George dramatically "I'm the ugly one am I?"
"His words not mine." Said Emma pointing at Fred
"Is that so Fred, well I… Yeow." He shouted as Emma too hit him on the knee.
"What did I say about staying still Georgie?" said Emma menacingly.
"So do you really fancy my twin brother?" said George as Emma dabbed his black and red knee skin with Murtlap Essence.
"I'll admit he's cuter than you, but that's all I'll admit to." Said Emma.
"So you do fancy him?" said George.
"Not really, I'm only twelve, I'm not into boys like that just yet." Said Emma
"So you admit you don't… Yeow!" he shouted as Emma smacked one of his exposed cuts.
"Boys just don't learn." Said Emma.
"What don't we learn?" asked Colin coming down from the Dormitory.
"Not you Colin, you're special." Said Emma.
Harry was suspicious. A month ago, Professor Lupin came to class looking rather ill. It took a few days, but he eventually perked up.
But now he looked sick again. Harry had just popped over to ask him if he knew of any Boggarts in the castle he could use to turn into Dementors, his experiments with the Patronus Charm had not advanced much at all and it now looked like his best option was to put himself in a situation when using the charm became considerably more essential. He didn't want to try combatting a real Dementor but a Boggart should be safer.
Harry moved to knock the door of his classroom and found Professor Snape opening the door.
"Potter." He said with restrained civility. He turned back into the classroom "I have an entire cauldron full in my office Lupin, let me know if you need anymore."
"Thank you Severus." Said Lupin. Professor Snape left. "Come in Harry, sorry you caught me like this, I'm afraid I'm a little under the weather. Professor Snape kindly procured a Potion to help me. Just a pity it tastes so bad, I can't even add sugar to it, ruins the entire formula."
Harry walked inside and shut the door. Professor Lupin was drinking the contents of a goblet in small gulps. Harry had to commend the Professor for consuming it at the rate he was, even from the other side of the classroom the Potion reeked of a mixture of rotting fish, boiled cabbage and very, very sour milk. As he got closer Harry cold tell that liquid was light blue in colour, with smoke to match.
"Professor are you alright?" said Harry "You look like you've just gobbled up a raw chicken."
Professor Lupin laughed at that, a little harder than was necessary. Harry didn't think his joke was that funny anyway.
"Sorry Harry, that sounds like something your father would say. I haven't heard that kind of humour in some time."
"Right." said Harry.
"Anyway, what can I do for you?"
"I… I…" Harry completely forgot about what he came for. "Sorry Professor I can't remember."
Lupin smiled sympathetically, drank a portion of the fluid and frowned heavily. "That's quite alright, feel free to come back if you remember, probably best not tomorrow though, I think I'll need my bed."
Harry nodded "Sorry to disturbed you Professor. I'll just go."
Harry had just shut the door when it occurred to him. He forced it back open again.
"Wait you knew my Dad?"
Lupin looked a bit shocked with himself. "Yes… yes I did, we were in the same year at school. We were close friends actually."
Harry stood still. "Well that explains why Snape seems to hate you…"
"Professor Snape Harry." Said Lupin. He forced another gulp of liquid from the Goblet and looked thoroughly sickened by it.
"Are you sure you're alright Professor?" Harry said with concern.
He smiled once again. "I really am fine Harry, your mother use to worry about me when she…" he stopped himself. "Perhaps this is a conversation for another time. Have a good Halloween."
Harry walked back to the Common Room deep in thought. He wondered what Lupin knew of his Dad, of his parents. But he also wondered what the potion was about. From the sounds of things he'd had some form of medical condition for a while now and despite this potion, he still seemed to get sick.
"Hey Em'?" said Harry once inside the Common Room.
"Yeah?" said Emma looking up from a Charms Textbook.
"Can I pick your brains for a few minutes?" asked Harry.
"Sure." Said Emma. Harry still had trouble with Potions, he was getting better, but his sister defined the word awesome when it came to this subject, even Hermione was nowhere near as good as she was.
Harry and Emma went to the Room of Requirement and into what became Emma's Potions Lab.
Since Harry had introduced her to the room, she too had her own private domain which was mainly used to brew potions.
"Ok what's up big brother?" asked Emma as the two of them sat down.
"Well I just went to see Professor Lupin and he looked kinda ill and Snape left after giving him a goblet full of potion."
"Harry you shouldn't pry into Lupin's medical habits, they're personal." Scolded Emma.
"I know, but you know Snape wants that job badly." Said Harry. "What if he's using the potion to make Lupin so sick he can't work?
"Do you really think he's that petty?" said Emma.
"Yes." Said Harry.
"So do I." sighed Emma "Alright, let's see if we can identify it, if we can then we'll know what Lupin is supposed to have. What can you tell me about it?"
"It absolutely stank and it apparently tastes terrible." Said Harry.
"Good we can rule out most Love Potions and Skele-Gro. What else?"
"Well… what do you mean most love potions."
"I found a recipe for one that, according to the book, requires frog eyes, rat's tails and toenails of the person who becomes the object of desire, there is no way that can smell anything other than ghastly. What else?"
"Well… Lupin said that he expected to be in bed all day tomorrow, he also indicated that he'd been suffering this a while. Oh yeah apparently he knew our parents, he was really close to our Dad."
"What? How close?"
"Close enough to say that my sense of humour was like our Dad's but he really wasn't well so I…"
"We can talk to him about Mum and Dad another time." Said Emma. "Potion?"
"Well it was smoking, both the smoke and the potion itself were completely blue."
"Ocean Blue?" asked Emma.
"It looked like it." Said Harry.
"Ocean Blue indicates Wiggenweld Potion." Said Emma.
"It does?" said Harry "I thought Wiggenweld was brown."
"Normally it is, but when you boil it with some types of plant it turns blue." Said Emma.
"What types of plant?" said Harry.
"Herbs mainly." Said Emma "Star Grass, Asphodel, Monks…wood." She stopped.
"What?" said Harry.
"Wait here I'll be back in a minute." She jumped up and ran back to the Common Room.
Emma walked as quickly as possible. Lupin was ill regularly and he was ill a month ago. That, and what little she knew of potions (which could no longer be considered little), indicated several things to her. She picked up her copy of Moste Potent Potions and her star chart from Astronomy. One look confirmed that this was at the very least highly possible.
She quick marched back to the Room of Requirement and entered her Potions Lab.
"Hey." Said Harry. "What is it?"
"I'm going to ask you some questions about the Potion, and see if this hypothesis is right."
"Ok." Said Harry.
"When you said the Potions smelt rotten, how close were you?" said Emma
"On the other side of the classroom, it stunk like Petunia's attempt at making Roast Turkey two Christmas's ago."
"Rotten fish and cabbage?" said Emma.
"And sour milk." Said Harry.
"Did Lupin add anything to it?"
"No sweeteners or anything?"
"No, he just said sugar would render it useless and that it tasted terrible." Said Harry.
Emma collapsed back "It's not a poison. Snape is not trying to make Lupin ill, he doesn't need to."
"Emma what is it?" said Harry.
"It's called a Wolfsbane Potion."
"Wolfsbane?" said Harry "Isn't that another word for aconite?"
"And Monkswood." Said Emma "Tibetan Wizards originally cultivated the herb and used it in oriental medicines in Far Eastern areas of the Wizarding World. When Western-European researchers discovered it, they called it aconite, because that's what the Muggles call it. But in the last ten years it's become known as Wolfsbane because of its most popular use."
"The Wolfsbane Potion." Said Harry "But what is the point of a Wolfsbane Potion."
Emma took a deep breath. "Wolfsbane is used to pacify the feral entity that emerges during the lycanthropic transformation on the night of the full moon."
Harry's eyes widened, he knew the word Lycanthropy.
"Are you saying Professor Lupin is a Werewolf?" said Harry.
"There is no other reason to take Wolfsbane." Said Emma. "Also tonight is the full moon."
"What does it do?" said Harry.
"It's really quite horrible." Said Emma "When Werewolves transform on the night of a full moon they turn into a feral creature with an inbuilt instinct to hunt down and spread the curse that they carry. That creature seeks out other humans to bite."
"I know this." Said Harry "But what's the point of the Potion, does it stop the transformation, is that possible?"
"No it's not possible." Said Emma. "At least not with current magical medicine. The Wolfsbane suppresses the inner beast, the other self whom desires to spread the curse of the Werewolf to all he meets. In doing so, when the person transforms, they keep their mind but their body is completely paralysed for the duration of the night. The process of turning into a wolf from a human and back is excruciatingly painful, normally when the beast leads the transformations the pain is nullified to the point of irrelevance, but when the human leads the transformation…"
Harry shivered. He had images of Emma when her body was broken in the Chamber of Secrets, the closest comparison he could think of at that stage. "It must be painful, turning on the night of the full moon."
"It is, basically your spine breaks, as does your ribcage and most of your other bones too when you turn into a wolf and then they painfully snap back into place when you change back. Even veterans of the process can be ill for several days after the transformation." Said Emma.
"What if he didn't take the potion and just locked himself in a pen for the night or something, would that be better?" Said Harry.
"No it wouldn't." said Emma "Wolfs like to bite and to run about. A werewolf will bite any human it see's and play with any animal it finds, regardless of how cooperative that animal is. If you lock one up, it will get bored and bite itself and thrash about destroying anything it can. Nine times out of ten they come out more injured than taking the Wolfsbane. At least with Wolfsbane the trauma is predictable."
Harry took a deep breath "Emma can we keep this to ourselves? I know Luna has spoken in defence of werewolves but…"
"Yeah, there are plenty of others who would use this against Professor Lupin." Said Emma.
"Is there anything we can do to help him?" said Harry "Some sweetener we can give him or a different potion?"
Emma shook her head. "Remember, wizards don't care enough about Werewolves enough to try and help them. The Wolfsbane potion was only really discovered because funds were raised to research lycanthropy cures. The funds in question were not given charity status by the Ministry so nearly half the money raised was taxed and they could get very few qualified people interested in researching the condition. Wolfsbane was developed towards the end of the project just as they began to run out of money."
"Why didn't the Ministry fund it more, Wizards fear Lycanthropy so surely…"
"They don't fear Lycanthropy they fear the Werewolf. Wizards don't think. They see Werewolves more as dark creatures out to kill them rather than human beings suffering from a magical curse." Said Emma.
"Well that's ridiculous." Said Harry "I don't know what it is with wizards sometimes. Seriously, when you have a problem you should confront it."
"I'm going to research this Wolfsbane, according to this book it's not that much harder than making Polyjuice Potion, though it is difficult. I'm not sure I'll get it right the first time." Said Emma.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" asked Harry.
"Yes. Research Werewolf rights, and do it without raising attention. I think we've got ourselves a new project. I like this Defence teacher and I don't want another Lockhart. I never thought about it before, but Professor Lupin must have had a difficult life. Werewolves have incredible trouble getting jobs in the Wizarding World, even in the Muggle world it's difficult because they need so much time off after the full moon."
"That should be easy enough." Said Harry "We're supposed to cover Werewolves in a few months, I can simply look for books on this year's reading list then work my way from there. Like I always do. Guess I'll have to put back all those Lawrence Books." Said Harry.
"Lawrence?" said Emma.
Harry told her about finding the research notes in the Room of Requirement.
"It sounds like he died writing them." Said Harry "I want to know more about him, but I've no idea where to look. I'd ask a teacher but I don't want them to know I'm reading stuff that's not on the reading lists, you know they've gotten suspicious of me since last year."
"Well learning something like the Flagrance Curse will do that." Said Emma "But you're right. We also don't want to tell them about this room. You know when he died right?"
"Yeah. January 1936" Said Harry.
"Well you might want to try looking in the Daily Prophet obituaries. There is a full set in the library." Said Emma.
"Good Idea, but that can wait for now."
Harry returned most of the Lawrence materials to the library and began looking out Werewolf books on the Third Year reading list. He checkout as many as he could.
"Why are you looking out so many Werewolf books?" asked Madam Pince.
"Um… we're going to be covering them in a few months in Defence. I want to be prepared."
"What about your other class topics?" demanded Madam Pince.
"What about them?" said Harry.
"Why aren't you studying them, what is your interest in Werewolves?" she said.
Harry was taken aback for a second. "I have studied for them, and am continuing to do so. But I don't know much about Werewolves, so I'm getting books that are on the reading list so that I'm ready."
Madam Pince seemed to glare down at him in silence. She seemed determined to keep him from taking out these texts.
"Is there a problem?" asked Harry, being direct.
"No." said Madam Pince. She stamped each of the books and gave them to Harry.
The day after the night of the full moon was Halloween, when the first Hogsmeade visit was scheduled. The four Third Years were really excited, their friends in second year all gave them lists for Honeydukes sweet shop and, in Geoffrey's case, Zonko's Joke shop. Harry also promised to get some Butterbeer bottles to bring back.
They arrive in the Great Hall and had breakfast. But Harry realised he forgot his money bag.
"Hurry up Harry, if you're not down in ten minutes Filch won't clear you to go." Said Hermione.
Bearing that in mind he took a shortcut from the Entrance Hall to the Seventh Floor which was only available on a Sunday and hurried back to the Tower.
Miss Granger, Mr Weasley, Mr Longbottom, where is Mr Potter." Said Professor McGonagall a few minutes later.
"Uh he went back up to the Common Room…" Said Neville.
Professor McGonagall rushed off before Neville could elaborate further.
"That was odd, she is really doing that a lot lately." Said Ron. "You know she came into the Practice Room three times yesterday, stuck her head in and then rushed off. It took us until the fourth time to manage to tell her Harry was at Quidditch Practice."
A few minutes later Harry showed up.
"That was fast?" said Hermione.
"It's Sunday." Said Harry "Gryffindor expressway?"
"Oh!" said all his friends. They were all well aware of the shortcut that appeared on Sundays. It was a shame it was so useless because there were no classes that day so there was no need to move so quickly between the Great Hall and the Seventh Floor where Gryffindor Tower was located.
Harry and the others were confirmed as having permission to go by Mr Filch and off they went to the Village. It would be a couple of hours before the teachers realised that Harry's name somehow wound its way onto the Caretaker's list.
Harry took hold of Ron's arm, while Neville took hold of Hermione's as they walked past the Dementors and then the two of them almost ran down the path to Hogsmeade. Neither of them fainted but less than pleasant memories did begin to surface. To put some distance between them.
"Thanks guys." Said Harry.
"It is much appreciated." Said Neville.
"No worries." Said Ron.
As they followed the other students down the path, they managed to talk about more cheery subjects.
"Emma wants me to get some kind of cat toy for Mopsus." Said Harry. "What do cats like to play with?"
"String mostly." Said Hermione.
"I thought it was bouncy balls." Said Ron.
"Those too." Said Hermione.
"But Mopsus is a Kneazle." Said Neville "Wouldn't he demand a more intelligent present?"
"Then I'll get him a Monster Book of Monsters." Said Harry.
The others laughed.
"We'll see what there is." Said Hermione. "Maybe this joke shop will have something, what does Geoffrey want from there anyway?"
Harry handed her a list.
"A… are we sure this is a good idea?" said Hermione.
"What's the harm?" Said Ron. "He probably won't prank us, we're his friends."
"Then who's he going to prank." Said Hermione.
"Oi Potter." Shouted a familiar drawling voice.
"Never mind." Said Hermione.
"What do you want Drakey?" shouted Harry as he saw him and his two goons coming down the path towards the village.
Malfoy scowled "Don't call me that Potter." He protested.
"Well stop talking to me and maybe I'll think about it." Said Harry. "What are you hear to whine about this time, stub your toe on the castle gate?"
"I just wanted to say that you should visit your stupid oaf of a friend Hagrid." Sneered Malfoy. "When my father's through with him, he'll end up back in Azkaban."
Harry glared at Malfoy.
"Shove of Malfoy." Said Ron. He took Harry's arm and coaxed him in the opposite direction of the blond haired Slytherin.
"Hey I haven't finished talking to you Potter." Shouted Malfoy. "Loco…"
Harry had been expecting it, the second he heard the first syllable. He dropped his wand from his sleeve so that the tip was in his palm and spun around.
Malfoy's spell shot forward and hit Harry. But because Harry was standing still when it hit, he managed to stay upright. He silently and surreptitiously dismissed Jinx with his concealed wand and then walked a few steps closer to his nemesis.
"That the best you got Malfoy?" Harry asked. He discreetly pushed his wand back up his sleeve and out of site, nudging it into his watch to keep it falling out.
Malfoy was in shock, it looked like his spell hadn't even taken effect.
"Maybe you should reconsider coming to Hogwarts, most squibs go to Muggle school right? Then again, you're so dumb you'll probably get put in a nursery class with all the toddlers." Said Harry.
He turned and walked back towards his friends.
"Damn You Potter I'll show you." Said Malfoy angrily.
Harry was ready to turn and show Malfoy just how good he was in a duel when:
But the voice did not belong to Malfoy or Harry.
Harry and his friends saw a Disarming Charm hit Malfoy causing his wand to fly into the air and land in Percy Weasley's outstretched hand.
Percy and his girlfriend, Penelope, were looking at Malfoy with disappointment.
"Mr Malfoy, your conduct is a disgrace." Said Percy. "You may collect your wand from Professor Snape later. I suggest you learn to behave yourself or you will not be allowed on any more of these outings. On you go now."
Malfoy glared at the Head Boy, then marched off down the path with his goons following close behind him.
"Are you alright Ron, Harry?" he said.
"We're fine thanks." Said Ron. "You should have just cancelled his privileges on the spot."
"Now Ronald, if I had done that, I'd have to take him up to the castle." Said Percy. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date. Penny?" he offered his arm.
Penelope giggled and encircled hers in Percy's. Then the two of them walked off ahead of the four Third Years.
"Wow, I never realised that Percy could be so…" Ron trailed off.
"Charming?" said Hermione. "He's not as fun as you or your other brothers and Ginny but he's… he can be quite a gentleman when he wants to be."
The first stop, at Ron's insistence, was of course Honeydukes.
"I wonder what these will taste like?" said Ron who had stopped at a jar of Orange and green coloured looking sucking sweets.
"Oh wow look at this chocolate." Said Neville heading straight for a tray of dozens of handmade chocolate.
Harry and Hermione looked at each other.
"Why are those two so obsessed with this, I mean I've been in sweet shops like this before, not magic, but I've never…"
"Probably because you've done it before." Said Harry shrugging. "The Wizarding World seems awfully constrained. Both Neville and Ron don't seem to have ventured far beyond their homes and school. Save the Weasley trip to Egypt."
"You've never been inside a sweet shop before." Hermione pointed out "Why aren't you all giddy and excited?"
"I prefer cake." Harry shrugged.
"Hmm." Said Hermione. "Well shall we get everyone's shopping lists? Actually Emma seems to like a lot more sweets than you according to this?"
"Most of those are actually for Ginny." Said Harry, making sure Ron couldn't hear. "Em' prefers carrot cake to sweets any day. But she does claim the mints and the cockroach clusters."
"I don't know why anyone loves these things so much." Said Hermione, eyeing the cockroach clusters.
Harry didn't say anything, but he knew Emma loved them so much because they were amongst the sweets he sent for her last Christmas at the Dursleys. With that thought in mind he added an extra dozen or so more to the bag than what she asked for.
After Honeydukes they went to Zonko's, the joke shop.
While Neville and Hermione went about trying to find the stuff on Geoffrey's list, Harry and Ron approached the counter.
"Do you have anything that could possibly be used to entertain a 15-month-old Kneazle?" said Harry
The shop assistant looked thoughtful. "I think so." He said.
He waved his wand and summoned a box with a stuffed robin visible through the packaging.
"This is known as a Rampant Robin." Said the shop assistant. "Normally its function is to fly about the inside of a room causing havoc and just generally providing a distraction. But I have one of these that I use to entertain my cats at home. All you would need to do is instruct it to play with your pet and he'll fly around the room just close enough for your Kneazle to try and claw at. It's also quite durable so it won't tear apart should your feline lay into it."
"That sounds great." Said Harry. "How much is it?"
"Ten sickles for a bird." Said the shopkeeper. "Though for two Galleons you can get four?"
Harry thought for a second. The birds had the potential to be quite fun, he looked to Ron who shrugged.
"Ok I'll get four." Said Harry.
"Should we go to the Shrieking Shack?" said Hermione. "It's supposed to be…"
"The most haunted dwelling in Britain." Neville, Ron and Harry said all at once.
Hermione pouted "Meanies."
"You still love us." Said Ron "I suggest lunch."
"You always suggest lunch." Said Harry "You once suggested it an hour after we had breakfast."
"I was hungry." Whine Ron.
"You're always hungry." Said Neville.
"That just makes my suffering more justified." Protested Ron.
"Oh honestly Ronald." Said Hermione "Fine, let's go and eat. We probably don't want to drag all this excess shopping all the way up to the Shrieking Shack anyway. We'll go next time."
Once inside the Three Broomsticks, they managed to find a table large enough for the four of them despite it being crowded and full of other students. Half an hour later they had finished enjoying toasties and Butterbeer when the door to the Leaky burst open and Professor McGonagall rushed in followed by Professor Flitwick who was plodding along rapidly behind her. The two of them went straight for the bar and were desperately trying to get Madam Rosmerta's attention. Unfortunately the barmaid that Ron 'definitely did not have a crush on' was completely busy and did not realise two of her friends from the school were desperately trying to talk to her.
"What's wrong with them?" asked Ron.
"No idea." Said Harry. "Come on let's go, it's getting worse in hear."
The four of them left the Three Broomsticks completely unaware that McGonagall and Flitwick were actually looking for them, or more precisely Harry. On their way through the village, they found a shop called Dervish and Bangs which sold and repaired magical instruments. They were curious so they went inside for a look.
There were several Sneakoscopes that were going wild, no doubt as a result of the huge number of wizards in the area as well Wizarding Radios and other odd items.
One item in particular drew Harry's attention. It was a circular metal ring standing on four legs connected up to a clipboard by two dozen pieces of sting. The Clipboard itself had a slot for a quill and a glass ink container attached. According to the display on the shelf it was an:
Arithmatic Spell Analyser!
Capable of determining the mathematical properties of magical spells.
"Ye interested in that thing." Said the Shopkeeper.
Harry turned to see a man with his face dirt like a mechanic who'd just finished working on a car after two hours.
"That's really fer people interested in doing research into spells. I don't know if someun yer age want's te buy that." He said.
"How much is it?" Harry asked.
"Twenty Galleons." The man said apologetically.
"I'll take it." Said Harry.
"Harry, you can't spend that much on something like that, what if you never use it." Said Hermione.
"I will Hermione, trust me." Said Harry he began looking out his money.
"What for?" said Hermione.
"Research, what else." Said Harry. He had yet to tell anyone other than Emma about Lawrence's notes. But this could prove helpful in working out what was so special about the Patronus Charm.
"Harry I'm not sure that this is a good idea." Said Hermione looking at the box with Harry's new toy. The four of them were heading back to school now, having bought too much stuff to just carry around much longer.
"I can tell." Said Harry "But I want to get some mathematical data on some spells, if I do that I should be able to work out how they're made and how I can manipulate them."
"Harry that's really advanced magic." Said Hermione cautiously "It could be dangerous."
"You shouldn't have told him that, now he'll experiment constantly until the Room of Requirement blows up." Said Neville.
Before Hermione or Harry could say anything else the four of them were distracted by the sudden appearance of a great big black dog.
"Hello there boy." Said Harry looking at the approaching hound.
The dog jumped up and pressed his paws against Harry, in a manner similar to Fang only without the drooling. The dog appeared thin, from the look of things it was a stray that hadn't been fed much.
Harry laughed and began scratching him behind the ears
"Harry that's a grim." Said Ron fearfully.
"He doesn't look that grim to me." Said Neville.
"But…" began Ron.
"Oh honestly Ronald there must be thousands of black dogs in the world, they can't all be Grims." Said Hermione.
Ron scowled. "Grims are real Hermione."
"No they're not." Said Neville who had now joined Harry in petting the dog.
"Poor thing looks hungry don't you?" said Hermione.
"Woof! Woof!" barked the dog.
"I'm afraid the only thing I've got is this." Said Hermione pulling an apple out of her pocket.
"Why are you carrying that around?" asked Ron.
"In case I get hungry, we can't all live off sweets." Said Hermione. "Diffindo!"
With her severing charm, she cut the apple in half and pulled the stem out.
"Here you go." She placed both pieces on the ground and the dog ravenously gobbled them up.
Something about the site of the dog hungrily consuming the apple seemed to calm Ron down.
"I guess the old bat makes some crazy predictions." Said Ron.
"You guess?" said Hermione. "I don't she even remembers most of them."
"What sort of things does she predict?" said Neville.
"Mainly little things like at the end of our first class, she told Seamus he'd be late for the next one. He wasn't and she told Parvati to be aware of redheaded man." Said Hermione.
"She looked at you didn't she?" Harry said to Ron.
"Is there anyone else in our class with red hair, or the school for that matter who is not a Weasley?" said Ron.
"Emma." said Harry.
"Yeah well I don't think Emma's a redheaded man." Said Ron.
"This dog seems very interested in this conversation." Said Neville.
"Emma would love you." Said Harry scratching his head "Provided you don't try to hurt Mopsus of course."
"Woof! Woof!" barked the Dog.
"Sorry but she isn't allowed down yet, she's only a Second Year."
"Harry you're talking to a Dog." Said Ron.
"So?" Said Harry. "I talk to Hedwig, Hermione talks to Crookshanks, Emma talks to Mopsus. I'm sure you talk to Scabbers."
"I do not, Scabbers is a rat. Who talks to a rat?"
"Whatever." Said Harry. "Are you alright boy."
The Dog suddenly no longer seemed friendly. He was growling.
"Mr Potter?" called Professor McGonagall from back in the village.
The Dog suddenly ran off and Harry and his friends turned to see a frantic looking Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick running up the village path towards them.
"Professor are you alright?" said Hermione. Both of the teachers looked heavily winded and heavily scared for some reason.
"Mr Potter what are you doing out of school, you do not have a signed permission form?" Said Professor McGonagall.
Harry and the others looked at each other in confusion.
"I do, or rather I did. Hermione should have given it to you." He looked at her.
"I did." Said Hermione "Professor, I gave you his with mine, are you sure you didn't just overlook the form when the lists were made up?"
"I don't make up the lists, Mr Filch does." Said McGonagall regarding the four of them with suspicion. "You will all accompany me back to the school then we shall investigate your claim."
Harry and Hermione left Professor McGonagall's office rather confused. Filch had been summoned with his list and he even produced Harry's permission slip that he said he'd received from Professor McGonagall. It was really an odd moment for Filch to act in defence of a student.
"This is really getting irritating." Said Harry.
"I have to agree with you on that." Said Hermione. "Something's got the Professors worried about you, and I don't know what because you've yet to do anything. Also I don't know why they rushed all the way down to Hogwarts when they could have just spoken to Filch."
"But whenever I ask what's going on, no one tells me anything." Said Harry.
"Well we'll worry about that later. Let's just go find the others."
Mopsus absolutely loved his new bird and amused half of Gryffindor by chasing it round the Common Room. Of course when Crookshanks saw Mopsus with a bird, he of course had to have one of his own, so Harry let loose another one.
Eventually it was time for the Halloween feast so the group met Luna outside the portrait hole and made their way down to the Great Hall.
The feast was fantastic and the Third Years told the Second Years tales of what Hogsmeade was like.
"We didn't get Butterbeer to take back unfortunately." Said Harry "But we still have a few bottles left, we can always ask Hagrid to get us some more should we need it."
"The three broomsticks was absolutely packed." Said Neville. "I actually wonder if McGonagall was looking for us when she came in."
"Probably." Said Harry. "Just as well it was so crowded, otherwise I'd have missed Dervish and Bangs."
"Ah yes, you must show me your new toy." Said Emma.
"We can go after dinner, I've left it in the room." Said Harry.
Harry and Emma left dinner early and went to Room of Requirement to set things up for. Upon arrival, Harry took his new spell analyser and placed it on the ground.
"The idea is that one cast's there spell above the metal ring." He said. "Flipendo!"
Harry's red sparks shot out of his wand and stop suddenly above the metal ring. Rings of red, blue and green light began to pour down the pieces of string attached to the clipboard and the quill proceeded to draw the arithmetic data of the Flipendo Jinx.
"Cool." Said Emma. "What does this mean?"
"Well that symbol there means its primary attribute is the Fire element." Said Harry. "Those mean that it has a Thunder sub-attribute. I don't know what the rest of this stuff means. I assume that this odd looking snail shell of numbers is the formulaic make-up. I wonder if Professor Vector wouldn't mind looking at this?" said Harry.
"So long as she's not like Snape, I'm sure she'd be delighted." Said Emma. "Let's try another one."
She raised her wand and pointed in the area above the ring. Harry meanwhile removed the sheet of parchment and added a new one.
"Vespertilio Mucosarum!" incanted Emma. A green light shot out of Emma's wand and stopped above the metal ring. As a result the quill once again began writing at a rapid rate.
"Ok." Said Harry once it had finished. "The Bat-Bogey Hex seems to have Wind and Water attributes that are about equal, meaning neither one appears overly dominant. But there is a sub-attribute, Ice."
"Neat. I'll take this to Ginny, we both know how fond she is of this Hex. I might be able to talk her into taking Arithmancy and Ancient Runes."
"What does she want to take?" said Harry.
"Divination and of course Care of Magical Creatures, we're all going to take that."
"Well good luck with that." Said Harry. "What are you planning to take at this stage?"
"Same stuff as you." Said Emma. "Come on, it's curfew in ten minutes, McGonagall will probably be waiting for us."
Harry and Emma trotted quickly to the Portrait Hole only to find the painting both vacant and vandalised. There was no sign of McGonagall or anyone else for that matter.
"What the…" said Harry.
"Someone cut at the Fat Lady." Said Emma.
"Where is everyone?" Said Harry. "Are they all on the other side?"
"I don't think so." Said Emma. "They should be coming up from the Great Hall about now."
"Maybe they noticed what happened and summoned everyone back downstairs." Said Harry.
"It looks like that might have happened." Agreed Emma.
"There you two are." Came a voice.
Both siblings turned to see the Gryffindor House Ghost approach them.
"Nick?" said Harry.
"Everyone's been looking for you both." Said the ghost.
"Again?" said Emma in disbelief. "What is with the staff in this place, they are obsessed with monitoring our every…"
"Sirius Black has been sighted in the castle." Said Nick silencing the youngest Potter. "He's the one who attacked the Fat Lady's portrait."
"What?" said Harry. "Emma get your wand out." He extracted his own and reached into his bag. "Nick, tell Professor Dumbledore we're heading to the Great Hall, I assume that's where everyone is?"
"Yes. But what are you…"
"That is our little secret." Said Harry. "Tell him, we're using the Christmas present he gave us and that we'll keep our eyes open."
Nick looked shocked.
"Go now." Said Harry forcefully, causing the ghost to jump. Nick floated directly down through the floor. Once he was out of sight, Harry extracted the Invisibility Cloak from his bag. "Under." He ordered his sister.
The two of them proceeded to the shortcut that led from the Seventh Floor to the Entrance Hall.
Both Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore were outside the Great Hall when they arrived. They stepped out of sight and removed the Invisibility cloak before making their presence known.
"Mr Potter." Said Professor McGonagall with relief at the site of him and his sister. "Where on…"
"Harry." Shouted Hermione, cutting off her Head of House. She ran up to the two Potters and pulled them into a hug. "Thank Goodness, we thought you might have run into Black when the two of you left early."
"We're fine." said Harry. "Nick showed up and told us what's going on. We came back this way as quickly as we could."
"Be that as it may." Said Professor McGonagall. "I do not need to two of you giving us anymore cause for concern."
"Calm down Minerva." Said Dumbledore. "Mr Potter, Miss Potter you did the right thing given the circumstances. The students are to spend the night in the Great Hall while the castle is being searched. Please join your friends inside."
There was general confusion in the Great Hall, everyone was considerably confused and the Gryffindors were informing the other three-quarters of the school what had happened and how they'd found the Fat Lady's portrait.
"Alright that's enough everyone." Said Percy, "Lights out in ten minutes. Harry, Emma… Over there." He pointed.
Hermione lead Harry and Emma over to where Percy was pointing, sure enough the rest of the Defence Group was located there.
"Good you're all right, we thought you two would have come from a really dangerous battle with Black." Said Geoffrey.
"We of course thought you would win." Said Natalie.
Harry grinned. "Nope. I don't know why he was here, but I don't think Black wants anything to do with me. If he was, it would have made more sense to go for me in Hogsmeade."
"Why was he here though?" said Ginny "The Ministry obviously expected him to come, they stationed Dementors on the boundaries."
"They're hiding something." Said Harry. "But it's nothing to do with us. The Dementors are horrible but this is one thing I'm not jumping to get involved in."
"That sounds wise Harry." Said Luna. "But sometimes you can find yourself unexpectedly caught up in these things."
Harry shrugged "I'll deal with that if and when it happens. Though I am curious as to what is going on with Black and everyone's efforts to catch him."
"It'll come out one day I imagine." Said Emma.
"Everyone, lights out in one minute." Said Percy.
Harry, as did many others slept rather poorly that night. Sleeping bags, in his opinion, were a poor substitute for a four-poster bed. He found he kept on waking up and it didn't help that Percy was going admonishing other people's ability to sleep.
At one point Dumbledore came in to check on the students.
"Everything's fine here sir." Said Percy.
"Good. I'm afraid the Fat Lady is too distraught to assume her former role. We shall have to find a new guardian for the Gryffindor Common Room for the time being."
Just then Snape entered through the Great Hall doors.
"He's not in the castle. We've just finished the search." Said Snape.
"What about the Owlery and Boathouse? Area's outside the castle?"
"All searched. It would appear that he is long gone." Said Snape.
"I see." Said Dumbledore contemplatively. "Well it is too late to send all the students back to their Common Rooms. We'll have them all return in the morning."
While Percy left the two to talk Snape seemed to speak at a much lower volume.
"Albus. I would like to remind you of a conversation we had prior to the start of term. It does seem inconceivable that Sirius Black could enter the castle without some form of assistance."
"I am well aware of your theories Severus. However I still maintain that I trust everyone currently employed in this castle. Besides which you of all people should be aware that that particular member of staff is in no position to provide assistance at this time." Dumbledore said firmly.
From where Harry was lying he could tell Snape did not look convinced. He glanced over at his friends. They all appeared to be asleep except for Emma who caught his eye and nodded.
It looked like their theory regarding Professor Lupin might be justified.
Just a couple of questions before you all review the chapter. Firstly I want to give Harry's Defence Group a name. The two biggest contesters right now are Defence Guild and Oracle Group… or the merging of the two ideas the Oracle Guild. Other names are also open.
Another thing, one of my reviewers suggested to me adding more people to the group. He particularly suggested Susan Bones. This was not in my original plan but I am quite liking this idea. My main issues with this are that if I add Susan, I'd probably have to add Hannah Abbot, also Harry's group is already made up of twelve people and I'm sure you're all having trouble remembering who they all are and don't want any knew characters added, though Susan and Hannah are not really new characters to most of you. The other issue I have is that this is already a female dominated group, even if Harry is the leader. Simply put, give me your opinions.