A.N: Thank you to all my reviewers and readers. Those who added the story to alerts and favourites.
Sorry for the delay in updating, all I can say is I take my hat off to the people who are able to work nine days straight and still find the time to write and edit. This week I have been lucky if I was able to string a sentence together that made sense. But now I am off for two days, in for one, off for one and then back in for another full week.
I enjoyed writing this chapter despite the fact I don't actually feel like it's my best I still enjoyed writing it and I suppose at the end of the day that is what counts.
Saturday 25th, January 1992:
Hallie soaked up the warmth of the fire with great delight. Her arms had goosebumps all over them; she was that cold after the latest Quidditch practice; since the start of term she seemed to have done nothing else but Quidditch practice.
'Please tell me you are joking!' Ron whimpered his eyes wide open with fear, the chess game he had been playing with Hermione completely forgotten.
'Afraid not. Wood's just told us. Snape is referring the next Quidditch match.' She answered, shuffling a little closer to the fire.
'Don't play.' Hermione said at once.
'Say you are ill.'
'Pretend to break your leg.'
'Really break your leg.'
'I can't. I'm pretty sure Madam Pomfrey would be able to fix a broken leg up in no time at all, and realise what was fake or not. Besides Gryffindor doesn't have a reverse Seeker, if I don't play we have to forfeit the match.'
'Hallie the last game you played someone tried to kill you, and it is split evenly between Snape and Quirrell. Playing with him as referee is too big of a risk.' Hermione said softly. Her brown eyes filled with worry.
Hallie didn't answer she couldn't not really. It was something she had been thinking about herself since she had heard the terrible news. But she also didn't see her having another choice in the matter.
She sighed softly leaning her head back against the armchair. She had been incredibly grateful for the start of term to begin. It meant she had more distractions to occupy her mind.
Dumbledore may have convinced her to not go looking for the Mirror of Erised again but that didn't stop it consuming her thoughts. She had begun to have nightmares as well, over and over again she dreamed about her parents disappearing in a flash of green light while a high voice cackled with laughter. And not only that she dreamed of the woman with the black eyes. She dreamed of her family and she watched night after night them…dying, as well of battles and war ripping through the world like a burning fire.
She couldn't shake the feeling though that she was dreaming about something that had happened in the past and that scared her. Because they were leading her to somewhere, she knew it….but where was the mystery.
Quidditch had helped, Wood had gone a little fanatic in his approach to practice for the coming game and though he was pushing them a little too far she couldn't complain. She was that tired after training she had fewer nightmares.
But now she had a whole new concern to fill her thoughts. Snape was referring the next Quidditch match. It wasn't going to end well.
Her thoughts were broken by Neville toppling into the common room. How he had managed to climb through the portrait hole was anyone's guess, because his legs had been stuck together with what they recongnised at once as the Leg-Locker Curse. He must have had to bunny hop all the way up to the Gryffindor Tower.
Everyone fell about laughing except for her and Hermione, who leapt up and performed the counter-curse. Neville's legs sprang apart and he got to his feet, trembling.
Hallie glared at the few people that were still laughing and they sobered up. So much for sticking together, she thought angrily as she moved Neville towards her seat and perched on Hermione's chair arm instead.
'Malfoy.' Neville said shakily. 'I met him outside the library. He said he'd been looking for someone to practice that on.'
Son of a bitch!
Hallie shared a look with Hermione before looking back at Neville. She wanted to do something, but their hands were tied to a degree.
'Go to Professor McGonagall!' Hermione said hotly. 'Report him!'
Neville shook his head.
'I don't want more trouble,' he mumbled.
'You've got to stand up to him, Neville!' Ron stated. 'He's used to walking all over people, but that's no reason to lie down in front of him and make it easier.'
Hallie threw Ron a glare. That wasn't exactly encouraging.
'There's no need to tell me I'm not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's already done that,' Neville choked, he looked close to tears.
She stood up and walked over to him, taking his hand in hers. He looked at her, his eyes close to tears.
'There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger, Neville. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.' She paused, 'Just because you don't feel brave doesn't mean you aren't. It just means that it is deep inside of you and you will find it when you truly need it.'
'But I'm not brave.'
'I think you will surprise yourself Neville. The Sorting Hat placed you in Gryffindor because it saw Gryffindor qualities in you. It wouldn't have done that if you didn't have any.' Hallie replied, feeling in her pocket of her robes and pulled out a Chocolate Frog, she gave it to Neville.
'You are worth far more than you realise Neville.'
Neville's lips twitched in a weak smile as he unwrapped the Frog.
'Thanks, Hallie….I think I'll go to bed…Do you want the card, you collect them, don't you?'
Neville passed her the card before walking away. Hallie smiled in thanks before turning around to face Hermione and Ron. Hermione's eyebrow was raised questioningly.
'Wizard of Oz?'
She shrugged, 'I like the book. Besides the lion was always my faviourate character.'
'I thought so to.' She muttered
'What are you two talking about?' Ron stared at them in confusion.
Hallie blinked, and smiled at him. She looked down at the Famous Wizard card.
'Dumbledore again.' she said. 'It was the first one I ever –'
She gasped. She stared at the back of the card then looked up at Hermione and Ron.
'I've found him!' she whispered. 'I've found Flamel! I told you I'd read the name somewhere before, I read it on the train coming here- listen to this: ''Professor Dumbledore is particularly famous for his long fight against the Dark Wizard Grindelwald. Over the years the two of them engaged in over fifty separate battles until Grindelwald's fall in 1981 October the 31st by the hands of Hallie Alexandra Potter, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood and his work on the alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel''!'
Hermione jumped to her feet. She hadn't looked so excited since they had gotten back the marks for their very first piece of homework.
'Stay there!' she exclaimed and she sprinted up the stairs to her dorm. Ron looked even more confused than he had done seconds before, but Hermione returned a moment later with an enormous old book in her arms.
'I never thought to look in here!' she whispered excitedly. 'I got this out of the library weeks ago for a bit of light reading.'
'Light? I think our definitions of light are mixed up Hermione.' Ron spluttered. But Hermione ignored him as she started flickering frantically through the pages, muttering to herself.
'You know the first sign of madness is talking to yourself.' Hallie teased.
'Madness should be embraced not feared.' Hermione answered without looking up.
A minute or so of silence passed before Hermione squealed in delight.
'I knew it! I knew it!'
'Speak to us oh wise one!' Hallie smirked
'Shut up!' Hermione replied with a grin. 'Nicolas Flamel is the only known maker of the Philosopher Stone!'
'The what?' Ron asked
'Oh honestly, don't you read.' Hermione snapped.
She pushed the book towards the both of them, and Hallie read with Ron, she was just as lost as he was:
The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Philosopher's Stone
A legendary substance with astonishing powers. The Stone will transform any metal into pure
Gold, it also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal…
Hallie stopped reading, she had read enough. The dog was guarding the Philosopher stone. As Hagrid had said it was between Dumbledore and Flamel, it fitted.
'They knew someone was after it, so they moved it out of Gringotts.' Hermione added
'It fits everything, and a lot of people would be after it.'
'No wonder Snape wants it. A stone that makes gold and stops you ever dying! Just think what you could do with it.' Ron exclaimed
'True. If it is Snape.'
'It has to be.' Ron argued.
'So we know what the dog is guarding, but now what? It doesn't solve anything. Someone is still trying to steal it and we are no closer to actually finding out whom.' Hallie said.
'What could we possibly do if we did find out whom though? I mean really Hallie, what can we do?' Hermione asked
'I don't know. The only thing I do know though, is I have every intention on playing in the Quidditch match.'
'You're mental.' Ron stated,
'Perhaps, but it will be worth it when we wipe the smiles off both Snape's and the Slytherins faces when we win. Consider it my pay back to a degree.'
'As long as we aren't wiping you off the pitch' Hermione grimaced.
'You just need to have a little faith.' She smirked at them.
Sunday 26th January 1992;
Hallie had fled to the depths of the library Sunday afternoon. She made the excuse that she needed to finish the rest of her homework before the following week brought even more. She did in fact have a History of Magic essay that needed to be finished but the reality of it was just that…she was using it as an excuse.
She had been feeling trapped. Confined.
She knew Hermione and Ron meant well, they had hardly left her side since the attempt on her life. They wanted to protect her in their own way – she wasn't used to that in the slightest. She was used to being alone. Independent. Being around them all the time made her feel trapped. She hated being trapped.
She knew she was being ungrateful. Selfish even, but she needed a little space – just so she could hear her thoughts if nothing else. With the rain beating down furiously outside, the only option to her was the library.
Her eyes skimmed through the pages of pages of text, as she tried to find the important information that was vital to her essay amongst the massive amount of useless information. She was generally surprised at how quite the library was for a Sunday afternoon, not that she was complaining. Her weary eyes glanced back down at the text book – she was getting tired – the words were starting to blur together and she knew no matter how much she may have wished to she couldn't prolong returning to the Gryffindor common room. She had after all spent the last three hours in the library. It was time to go and face the music. You are over exaggerating now, they aren't that bad.
And they weren't, not really. She just wasn't used to people actually wanting to be in the same room as her, let alone her friend. But that wasn't their problem that was hers and she needed to get over it quickly or they may start asking questions she couldn't answer nor did she want to answer them come to think of it.
She shut the book she had been using without a second glance and placed it back onto the shelf. Carefully she gathered the rest of her things and placed them into her bag, ensuring that the ink bottle was secure. She had no desire to write the whole thing out again simply because her ink had spilt over it. One last check over the area ensured that nothing had been forgotten. Swinging the bag strap over her shoulder she made her way out of the library.
The corridors were mostly deserted, most of the student population holed up in their common rooms and generally relaxing before the start of a new week. She wasn't alarmed in the slightest that she didn't meet anyone in the corridors, but she was alarmed by the prickly feeling she had at the back of her neck, a feeling she had had since she had left the library. Normally it meant that someone was following behind her or that someone was standing to close to her than she was comfortable with.
But no one was behind her. She had checked, glancing casually over her shoulders. But she was very much alone. Unless they were invisible like Dumbledore was at Christmas.
Hallie froze where she stood, straining to hear the slightest sound that would have been out of place. Her body tense; she had to force herself to relax, to act normal. It was never a good idea to tip off your enemy that you knew that something was wrong.
Ok now you are being overly paranoid.But that didn't stop her from listening out for movement. After all it wasn't actual paranoia if they were really out to get you. And someone had already proven that they were.
She mentally shook herself and started walking. Already changing her direction to the Gryffindor common room from the shortest to the most direct route, it may take longer but it would be safer, the likely hood of meeting other students was higher.
Hallie turned the corner and immediately stopped. The hairs on the back of her neck stood to attention and her skin felt like it was crawling. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong!
Her mind was screaming DANGER! And the desire to run spread through her at an alarming rate.
But run where? She didn't know whether the danger was behind her or in front and running foolishly could send her plummeting directly towards the threat. She needed to think, to quickly think over her options.
She wasn't given a chance. A force hit into her so quickly she hadn't had a chance to move out of the way, and she was shoved into the wall hard.
She moved quickly from the wall, her eyes searching madly down both sides for the enemy, but there wasn't anyone but her in the corridor. Her body tensed suddenly and she spun out of the way just as something very invisible brushed past her – feeling like hot energy whipping around. The very air seemed to feel alive around her, pushing and pulling against as if it wanted to rip her apart. An invisible force; not enemy. Just like the raw magic had felt when Riddle had almost lost control, only this was far more directed and controlled. And now she knew what it reminded her off, she knew what to look for – she could almost taste it, smell it on the air, decay and something else. It made her want to gag. But it did clear a few things though. Someone other than Riddle and Dumbledore could use raw magic in the castle and she couldn't fight an enemy she couldn't see, not when they were using the very air against her. That only left her one option.
Up the corridor and making a right at the end she could feel the magic whipping at the back of her heels like a pack of angry dogs. She didn't slow her speed; she let memory guide her – directing her to the Gryffindor common room.
She turned another corner and collided into something solid. She stumbled back from the sudden impact, managing to stop herself from falling flat onto her ass by using the wall for support.
Hallie stared in shock as she stared into a pair of angry brown eyes that had such loathing and rage in them that for a second she almost forgot she was at Hogwarts and instead facing her uncle's wrath.
She had collided straight into Quirrell and he looked beyond pissed off.
I think that fifty percent chance of him being the one who tried to kill me is more like ninety nine point nine percent.
Not that that thought made her feel any better right now, considering she was alone with him in a corridor. No one would be able to help her now, not that she wasn't capable of defending herself, but still the odds were against her and she didn't like that at all. She gripped her wand tightly and was ready to pull it out at a moment's notice.
'Just what do you think you are doing you stupid girl!' Quirrell hissed at her, taking a step closer to her.
Hallie stepped back – her back hitting the wall. Damn! That was a bad move on her part. She was practically cornered . But she refused to show him that she was afraid of him. She met his eyes and refused to look away.
'Sorry Professor. I should have been looking where I was going.'
'Yes, you should have. Just because you are famous Potter, doesn't mean you have right away.' He sneered at her.
She didn't answer, instead she noticed the change of emotions in his eyes or rather the calculating look that had appeared as he observed her. The loathing and rage never left.
His eyes stopped on her forehead, her scar must have been showing, normally she tried to keep it hidden. She tensed as his hand rose almost on its own accord. He hardly seemed to notice.
'How did you survive?' he whispered – his hand hovering inches away from her face.
Inwardly she was seething. If the bastard touched her she was going to make sure he would never be able to have children.
'Potter! Quirrell!' a voice hissed sharply.
Hallie had never felt so relieved to hear Riddle's voice as she did right then. Both she and Quirrell turned to face him. He was angry – she could see that in his eyes by the way he glared at Quirrell, she supposed it did look very compromising. Quirrell almost seemed to shrink back – reluctantly she noticed but never the less he did. Hallie felt she could breathe again.
'G-good afternoon T-Tom.' Quirrell stuttered. He hadn't stuttered once while talking to her, but why? Was she right in thinking it was forced? An act?
'Quirrell.' Riddle answered his voice like ice. She wanted to shiver at just how cold he sounded; she hadn't heard him sound like that before.
Quirrell looked back at her, 'T-twenty p-p-points from G-Gryffindor. W-watch where y-you are g-going next time P-Potter.' He didn't wait for a response from her, simply walked away in the opposite direction.
Both of them remained silent as they listened to they listened to the echoes of his footsteps fading. Hallie met Riddle's eyes with hers and almost flinched back at the intensity of them but she didn't. She was pretty sure that Riddle would see it as a sign of weakness.
'Did he hurt you?' he asked suddenly.
'No.' she replied shaking her head, before looking back at the direction that Quirrell had just left.
'Are you sure?'
'You need to be more careful Potter.'
'I know.' She replied absently, 'He didn't stutter.'
She looked back at Riddle who was looking at her questioningly.
'When he was talking to me, he didn't stutter, not once.'
'It probably means nothing.' Riddle replied stiffly.
She frowned, 'Or it means that he is one brilliant actor.'
'Forget about it Potter and go back to your common room.'
She smirked at him, 'You can rest easy now Riddle, your good deed for the day is done.'
He smirked back at her, 'Brat!'
'Common room now before I take more points from you.'
She mocked saluted him before walking away. Despite what Riddle had said she hadn't forgotten about Quirrell's lack of stutter. In truth it just strengthened the idea he was the one responsible for the attempt on her life. She would need to watch him even more carefully from now on.
Saturday 22nd February 1992:
The Quidditch match she had been dreading had finally arrived. She wasn't the only one either but she had the feeling it was for entirely different reasons. As soon as she had finished changing Wood took her to one side.
'Don't want to pressure you, Potter, but if we ever need an early capture of the Snitch its now. Finish the game before Snape can favour Hufflepuff too much.'
'I plan to Wood, don't worry.'
'The whole school's out there!' Fred exclaimed as he peered out of the door. 'Even – blimey – Dumbledore's come to watch!'
Hallie smiled to herself. Despite the fact she was almost certain that it was Quirrell not Snape that had tried to cause her harm, she felt a little more reassured now. There was simply no way that anyone would dare to try and hurt her if Dumbledore was watching. Despite the fact she wasn't quite sure what to make of the man herself; she was certain he cared for his students.
She took off with the others feeling much more confident than he had this morning. She circled over the pitch searching for the Snitch very much like a hawk would for prey.
She saw Snape award Hufflepuff a penalty because George had hit a Bludger at him but it was more like she was absorbing everything without actually paying attention to it.
She wasn't sure exactly how long she had been flying; it felt like an eternity before she finally spotted the Snitch hovering by Snape. Hallie didn't hesitate, and moved straight into a dive, shooting past Snape in a blur, missing him by inches – the next second she pulled out of the dive sharply, her arm raised in triumph as her hand clasped around the Snitch. They had won.
The stands erupted.
Hallie jumped off her broom, a foot from the ground. She couldn't believe it. She had done it – the game was over. As Gryffindors came spilling on to the pitch, she saw Snape land nearby, white-faced and tight-lipped.
A hand rested on her shoulder, Hallie looked up into Dumbledore's smiling face.
'Well done,' he said quietly, so that only Hallie could hear. 'Nice to see that you haven't been brooding about that mirror….been keeping busy….excellent…'
Hallie didn't answer, not wanting to lie. She hadn't been brooding about the mirror exactly more like it had been haunting her if anything.
Hallie felt giddy as she left the changing room. It was a new feeling for her but she generally felt proud of herself. Nobody could say she didn't deserve her spot on the Gryffindor team now – it was an achievement for her to succeed at something and not be punished for her success. It was truly a new experience for her and she couldn't ever remember feeling happier.
Hallie reached the broom shed and leant against the wooden door and looked up at Hogwarts, with it glowing red in the in the setting sun. Gryffindor was in the lead. She had done it, she had shown them all. She hadn't realised until then just how important that fact to her was. That she was more than just famous, that she was more than what they thought. It was odd considering she had never cared about what people had thought about her before or maybe she was just lying to herself.
She breathed in deeply letting the crisp air fill her lungs it was a mild evening compared to the last few they had had and she was a little reluctant to head indoors right away.
Hallie opened her eyes at the sound of heavy footsteps on the ground. A hooded figure came swiftly down the front steps of the castle. Clearly not wanting to be seen, it walked as fast as possible towards the Forbidden Forest. Hallie's victory faded from her mind as she watched.
She recongnised the figure's quick footed step.
Quirrell, sneaking into the Forest while everyone else was at dinner – what was he up to?
Curiouser and curiouser! Her damn curiosity was going to be the death of her one of these days, but she couldn't help but shake the feeling that it was important for her to follow.
Hallie jumped back on her Nimbus Two Thousand and took off. Gliding silently over the castle she saw Quirrell enter the Forest at a run. She followed.
The trees were so thick she couldn't see where Quirrell had gone. She flew in circles, lower and lower, brushing the top of branches of trees until she could hear the familiar muttering of Quirrell, intent on a privet conversation. She glided towards it and landed noiselessly in a towering beech tree.
She climbed carefully along one of the branches, holding tight to her broomstick, trying to see through the leaves. Below, in a shadowy clearing, stood Quirrell muttering to himself – she noticed the lack of stutter as she listened closely.
'– and they'll see then, the ones who laughed, the ones who turned their backs, won't they? Won't they?' Quirrell demanded as if someone had argued with him. 'Running out of time. Need to hurry, need to hurry. Growing weaker.'
Hallie shook her head. He sounded barking.
'Need to get the stone. Need to get it….but he said he would handle it; he has never disappointed me yet. Never. They will all die when I have it. All of them.'
Hallie leaned forward as Quirrell mumbled something she couldn't quite catch.
'Yes, yes. Alright I will do it.'
What the hell?
But she didn't have the time to think about it because Quirrell suddenly moved – walking deeper into the forest and there was no way she was following him any further.
Hallie gripped her broom tightly as she mounted it and flew back towards the castle. She could see no sign of Quirrell anywhere – which was just as well, since what she had just heard proved it was him not Snape that was trying to steal the stone.
'Hallie, where have you been?' Hermione squeaked.
'We won! You won! We won!' Ron shouted, thumping Hallie on the back – she almost turned around and smacked him back – but refrained from doing so. He probably didn't intend for it to be that hard.
'Never mind that now.' She snapped, 'I need to tell you something.'
'What's wrong Hallie?'
She didn't answer, instead dragged them away to a quieter part of the common room and whispered quietly what she had seen and heard. The likely hood of anyone being able to overhear them was slim – but she still kept a wary eye on the rest of the common room as they celebrated around them.
'So we were right.' Hermione gasped. 'It is the Philosopher stone.'
'I can't believe Quirrell is the one trying to steal it.' Ron gaped.
'The stutter is an act, but I don't think he is all there. You should have heard some of his mutterings. He intends to kill a lot of people.'
'We need to tell someone!' Hermione said in alarm.
'Who? Who would believe us we have no proof?' she argued, 'Not only that he mentioned someone was helping him. Who do we trust?'
'Fluffy can't be the only thing guarding it though? There are probably loads of enchantments.' Ron said weakly.
'So what do we do?' Hermione asked
'We wait. And we observe. It's all we can do for now.' She answered absently. She didn't like it much but she couldn't see any other choice.
You could tell Riddle,she argued. But would he believe her – he did tell her to forget about Quirrell's lack of stutter. No, all they could do was wait and hope for the best.
Hallie listened to the sounds of her giggling dorm mates as she sat on her bed. She smiled to herself at the sighs of annoyance Hermione was making every so often as the girl read her book in her own bed.
Hallie shook her head in amusement as she turned her attention back to the diary Riddle had given her at Christmas. She had always been wary about writing anything important in a diary, the thought of the Dursleys or someone else reading it was just horrifying, not to mention sealing her own death warrant. But she was using this one as an exercise just like Riddle suggested, writing about the day or describing a scene and seeing if she could accurately visualise everything how much detail was used to describe things. A simple exercise but one Riddle said was necessary. In truth Hallie couldn't wait until she actually started learning how to use Blood Magick in an effective way – but she supposed she had to learn the basics from somewhere.
Tonight though her mind was too focused on what she had overheard with Quirrell and the fact that Quirrell was the one trying to steal the stone. Did that mean that he let the troll in at Halloween and that he broke into Gringotts? If that was the case then the Goblins wouldn't show him mercy – they were a revengeful lot when they wanted to be. As a friend of the Goblin nation she had a duty to inform them but something was telling her to wait until she had more evidence to back it up than simply relying on her word.
For that to happen she needed to come up with a plan that would end up with Quirrell being held accountable and with her still being alive. She wasn't even sure why she wanted to do something about it other than it was the right thing to do, but right didn't necessarily mean coming out of it alive. Was it a desire for revenge? Because Quirrell tried to kill her she would do everything she could to ruin him – she had already said she would make him pay and she would…but that thought still made her uneasy.
She sighed softly – despite the fact she hated living with the Dursleys, things had been so much simpler. She had known where she stood…what was expected of her – what she had to do to survive. The Wizarding World…magic complicated things. Everything had changed, but her desire to survive, and now what she was willing to do would be frowned upon because it didn't fit into what people expected of her. That made her question herself – not because she wanted to fit into their ideals but because she still didn't know what they wanted from her, and whether they would try to mould her into what they wanted.
That thought made her angry.
She looked down at the blank page in the diary and frowned. Without even thinking about it she wrote on the page…not a list of what she had done in the day, nor was it a scene she had visualised. It was a single sentence. A single thought that she knew was more true than anything else.
I am not a hero!
It was as if that one sentence opened a dam inside of her and she soon found herself writing about her worries about Quirrell and the different possible ways she could handle the situation, things she had felt but never voiced thoughts that she would have kept locked away. She kept writing until she eventually fell asleep.
23rd March 1992,
In the weeks that followed the three of them watched Quirrell as best they could – considering the fact they had no lessons with the man, but he did seem to be getting paler and thinner as the weeks passed.
However they soon all had more on their minds than the Philosopher Stone thanks to Hermione, the end of term exams. She had started drawing up revision time-tables and colour-coding all her notes. Hallie wouldn't have minded so much but she kept nagging them to do the same – which resulted in more arguments between Ron and Hermione.
It seemed that not even spending time outdoors in the sun one particular afternoon after lessons could halt their bickering. Hallie only half listened as she soaked up the sun. The sudden break in the weather was a blessing in her opinion and they weren't the only ones out enjoying it either.
'Hermione, the exams are ages away.'
'Ten weeks!' Hermione snapped. 'That is not ages; that is like a second to Nicolas Flamel.'
Hallie snorted before smirking at the girl when she turned her glare onto her.
'But we're not six hundred years old.' Ron argued. 'Anyway what are you revising for, you already know it all.'
'What am I revising for? Are you mad? You realise we need to pass these exams to get into the second year? They're very important; I should have started studying a month ago. I don't know what's got into me…'
'Hermione, breathe. Just breathe for a second and think. We have plenty of time to study but right now can we just enjoy that we have nice weather. It's been raining for almost two weeks. I'm pretty sure fresh air is essential for healthy living.' She said softly.
'Oh, I suppose you are right, but the exams are important.'
'We know Hermione!'
Ron shot her a grateful look and the three of them seemed to have fallen into silence – Hermione reading silently and Ron looked as if he was falling asleep.
It was nice – relaxing.
'What do you think is going on by Hagrid's?' Hermione asked suddenly.
Hallie looked over towards Hagrid's a hut. There certainly seemed to be a large crowd gathered round, students and professors, as well as wizards in crimson robes. She frowned.
'Who are the guys in red robes?'
'Aurors' Ron answered, a touch of excitement filtering through his voice.
'Aurors?' she questioned.
'Dark-Wizard Catchers. I suppose they would be like the muggle version of the police.' Hermione answered
'See that makes so much more sense.' She paused, 'Come on, let's go and have a look.'
The crowd wasn't as big as it appeared up close. Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Riddle were on the scene as was Hagrid, along with three wizards dressed in the red robes. All of them looked very grave, well all of them except Riddle, Riddle looked as he always did, unaffected, calm and collective.
A lot of the students that were gathered round were visibly upset. Tears ran freely down their faces and grief was clear to see. Ron gasped at the side of her and her attention was drawn inwards. There lying on the floor was the most beautiful being she had ever seen and she could clearly understand why those around her were so upset. A unicorn was lying dead on the ground. Even to her mind that sound wrong, cold even. It had been laid down on its side, its long slender legs looking luminous in comparison to the dark ground and its mane was spread pearly white on the dark leaves. A large open wound was visible on the unicorn's neck and the remains of dried blood stained its white coat. It was beautiful, it was horrifying and it was tragic. She had known they existed, she had read about them in some of the books in the library, but she had never imagined seeing such a creature…especially not a dead one. It was in fact the complete opposite of how she had ever imagined a unicorn to be like, lying dead on the ground. It was an image of purity and innocence, life and light and yet that had been stolen from this creature. It made her heart clench, but she refused to cry the tears like those around her. Tears wouldn't give it life again; tears wouldn't bring back the innocence that had been stolen today from the world.
'It is beautiful, and also the saddest thing I have ever seen.' Hermione whispered at the side of her.
'To kill such a creature is sacrilege.' Ron whispered furiously. 'They are the lightest and purest magical creatures in existence. This….this is the sign of the Dark, a Dark Witch or Wizard has done this.'
'Is that why the Aurors are here?'
'Must be. It is considered a crime to slaughter one. Especially for its blood.'
'Blood?' Hallie frowned.
'The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch away from death.'
Hermione gasped, 'Who would do that!'
'Someone who has nothing to lose and everything to gain' Hallie answered. 'Surely there has got to be some disadvantage to it though or everyone would be doing it right?'
Ron shifted on his feet uncomfortably. 'The stories say that whoever slays a unicorn will have but a half life, a cursed life from the moment the blood touches your lips. Everyone who is light would never dare to commit such a crime but there are some who are dark that really don't care.'
'Blood is life.' She whispered
'Just something I heard before.' She muttered looking back at the dead unicorn. It was disturbing to think that the unicorn was slain for its blood, especially considering what she was learning about with Riddle.
She looked up at the feel of someone watching her. She found midnight blue eyes staring at her intently. No emotion crossed his face but he seemed to be sending her a message with his eyes alone ''Leave now, you don't need to stay to see this''. She nodded back to him, but whether it was to show her understanding or out of gratitude she wasn't sure. Maybe a little of both, she was grateful that someone was telling her to leave, even if they didn't voice it aloud, but she knew that no matter what the dead unicorn would be joining her nightmares and she really didn't need anything else to be added to them at the moment.
'Come on, let's go back to the common room.' she said quietly, a hand gently tugging on Hermione's arm who was more than willing to be led away from the scene. Not even Ron seemed to want to speak as they made their way back towards the castle, not that she could blame them. She didn't feel much like speaking either.
A.N: Firstly I would like to say my plan to have the first year finished before the New Year has completely and utterly gone out of the window and just shows that I should never plan anything since it never actually happens. That said this is going to be my last update before the New Year and most likely for a while now. Besides work, real life has actually caught up with me once again and I am finding it difficult to focus my thoughts on anything else, despite how much I wish I could carry on writing simply to escape from it all. I aim to give myself a few weeks to catch up with everything I need to catch up with or can no longer ignore and then give myself a fresh burst of thoughts to finish year one. I have until the end of year one completely planned out I just need to find the words to write it. So it should be no more than a month until the next update, though I am hoping for sooner.
It's something that can't be helped and I believe that if I carried on writing simply to update then I would lose the plot of the story. While I am not perfect in writing at all I do like to have the chapters I am actually happy with before posting. So I do apologise for the delay and hope it won't be too long.
On a brighter note, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers and reviewers hope you all have a good one.