I do not have much time but I wanted to let you know I am okay. Dumbledore has found a place for me to stay for the time being and he has informed me that he is going to be sending for you soon and will let me know as soon as he's found a place for you. If you hear from him please send me a note, as he is very busy and might not be able to let me know right away. I hope you are well and that I will see you soon. Your Godfather, Sirius
I do not have much time but I wanted to let you know I am okay. Dumbledore has found a place for me to stay for the time being and he has informed me that he is going to be sending for you soon and will let me know as soon as he's found a place for you. If you hear from him please send me a note, as he is very busy and might not be able to let me know right away. I hope you are well and that I will see you soon.
Harry looked at the letter for the 4th time that day and than folded it up and put it in his pocket. He had been back at the Dursley's for two weeks and had received the letter a week ago, but still he had received no word from Dumbledore. He wanted to leave the Dursley's very much and not just because they treated him badly. This time he feared for their safety. If Voldemort was able to use Mrs. Figg to find out where Harry had been staying then they could all be killed in their sleep, or worse. Harry pushed these thoughts out of his mind and got up off of his bed, it was a beautiful summer morning so he went over to the window so he could let in some fresh air.
Just then there was a movement outside of his window that caught his eye. A light brown owl was coming towards him and it had a letter tied to its leg. Harry opened the window and let the owl fly in. He untied the letter from its leg and then it flew over to Hedwig's cage. Hedwig glared at this intruder with disgust as it helped itself to some food, then it let out a squawk and flew out the window.
Harry didn't pay attention to any of this; he tore open the letter and began reading. But he began to feel afraid when he saw what the letter said.
You-Know-Who has discovered where you are. I am sending someone tonight to get you out of that house. Please make sure you have all of your things packed and ready to go by this evening. Dumbledore
You-Know-Who has discovered where you are. I am sending someone tonight to get you out of that house. Please make sure you have all of your things packed and ready to go by this evening.
Harry stared at the letter in shock, re-reading it over a few times. Was Mrs. Figg dead? How else could Voldemort have found him? He put the letter down and immediately grabbed some paper. He wanted to let Sirius know first thing what had happened. After quickly scribbling down what Dumbledore told him in his letter, he tied it to Hedwig's leg and sent her off to deliver it.
Harry knew he had to pack everything so he started right away. He didn't have anything hidden under the floorboard yet as he had only been here for a couple of weeks and hadn't received anything yet from his friends. He was packed completely in just over an hour and had nothing left to do but wait. He kept glancing nervously out the window expecting to see Voldemort standing there; coming for him, but no one was ever there.
The hours went on and it started getting darker out. He thought about warning the Dursley's but decided that he would tell them when he was leaving. He knew that they either wouldn't believe him and he would be punished or they would be furious at him for endangering them and he would still be punished. No use getting them angry at him yet, better to do it when he wouldn't be there to get punished for it. Also, that way someone would be there to stop them.
Harry realized then that he had no idea who was coming. Usually Dumbledore would say who he was sending to let him know who to expect. He pulled out the letter again and re-read it, but this time he noticed something that made his blood go cold.
The first words of the note said: You-Know-Who. Dumbledore never called Voldemort this, especially not to Harry. He knew instantly that Dumbledore did not send this letter. Harry was furious with himself for not noticing this sooner. Now he had already sent Hedwig to Sirius letting him know Dumbledore was sending someone for him and had no other way to contact anyone.
Just then he heard a scream downstairs, his heart was in his throat as he flung open his door and ran downstairs. He saw the Dursley's cowering in a corner of the living room from a man standing nearby. When the man turned around as Harry came into the room, he came face to face, once again, with Lucius Malfoy.
"Potter," Lucius sneered at him. "Didn't think you'd actually be safe here, did you? You have greatly upset my master and I intend to bring you to him. I knew you'd be stupid enough to believe that letter." Lucius looked quite pleased with himself. Harry watched as he took out his wand and pointed it at him.
He didn't stop to think, he ran straight at Lucius and slammed into him, knocking the wand out of his hand. They both scrambled for it, Lucius was stronger, but Harry was quicker. He snatched up the wand and spun around with it.
"Don't move," he said shakily to Lucius.
"Do something, boy!" Vernon shouted from behind him.
"More are coming, Potter. Do you think I'm a fool? You will be outnumbered shortly, so this little game you're playing now is pointless."
Harry didn't know if he was bluffing or not, but he didn't have time to think about it. He heard a 'popping' noise behind him and knew someone else had entered the room. He looked over his shoulder, keeping the wand trained on Lucius.
"Sirius!" he cried, filling with relief. But Sirius didn't look relieved at all; he looked at Harry and then at Lucius.
"Harry, watch out!" he yelled. But Harry didn't turn around fast enough to see Lucius lunge forward. He grabbed his wand and took a step back, pointing it at Harry. Sirius, however had pulled out his wand, and was pointing it at Lucius.
"You can't hide forever," he sneered at Harry. "The Dark Lord will find you, no matter where you run." But Harry could see the fear in his eyes, and knew he had been bluffing earlier. He felt Sirius slowly step up next to him and for a moment no one spoke. Then without warning, Lucius dissaparated.
Harry immediately turned to face Sirius and they both hugged for a moment. When he pulled back Harry asked:
"What made you come here, I never got to tell you…?"
"Your letter told me. Dumbledore had just arrived where I've been staying to let me know where he wanted you to stay. I was glad he wanted to check it with me first, but then Hedwig arrived with your letter. Dumbledore said he hadn't sent anything to you and we knew something was wrong. I said I would come to get you and bring you back there, looks like you didn't need my help though," he added with a grin. "Got his wand away from him and everything."
"I didn't even think about it," Harry said grinning back. "It was just the first thing that came to mind."
"Well it's a good thing it did, now are your things ready, we should probably get out of here quickly. We don't want to be here if he comes back."
"What do you mean comes back?" Uncle Vernon found his voice suddenly. "He better not be coming back!"
"He won't, as long as Harry isn't here," Sirius said glaring at him. Then he turned back to Harry. "Let's go get your things."
They grabbed Harry's trunk and Hedwig's empty cage and brought them downstairs. Sirius had brought floo powder with him as Harry couldn't apparate yet, and they moved close to the fireplace. He looked at the Dursley's who still hadn't moved from where they were crouched in the living room, they were looking at Sirius with just as much fear as they were showing for Lucius.
"Good-bye then!" Harry said to them, but none of them moved, they just kept staring. Sirius threw in the floo powder and Harry stepped in first.
"Sirius'" he called and instantly felt himself being whisked away.
When Harry finally came out on the other side he landed on his knees. He put down Hedwig's cage, stood up quickly and saw Dumbledore standing in front of him.
"Professor Dumbledore!" he said happily.
"Hello Harry, I see Sirius got to you in time." Then as if on cue, Sirius came tumbling out of the fireplace, barely holding on to Harry's trunk.
"That thing is quite heavy," he said standing up and brushing himself off. His face reddened a bit as if he was a little embarrassed and there was an awkward silence.
"How did they find me?" Harry spoke up suddenly. "Is Mrs. Figg dead?"
"She may be," Dumbledore said gravely. Harry was a bit taken back. This question had gone through his mind many times since he first realized the letter was a set-up, but he never really let it sink in. Then Dumbledore continued.
"We don't know anything for certain yet, but we are looking into it. Sirius and I only just found out about this when he received your letter. It is very fortunate you decided to send it, or who knows where you would be now."
"Harry might've been just fine," Sirius said with a smirk. He explained what he saw when he arrived at the Dursley's and Harry told what had happened before that.
"I should've known much sooner, though," he said. "If I'd bothered to think about it I would've know right away it wasn't from you."
"The important thing is you did realize it and you were able to do something about it. Don't think about anything else," Dumbledore told him. Then he stood up and moved away from the table.
"It's time for me to go. I will be back for you tomorrow, Harry. You can stay here for the night. I can't let you stay longer because I don't feel it is safe enough for you."
"What about Sirius?" Harry asked.
"Sirius is not being hunted by Voldemort's followers, the ministry of magic won't find him here. Please don't argue, I have made my decision. I will be here tomorrow evening, good night." He smiled at Harry and nodded at Sirius, then dissaparated.
"I didn't get a chance to ask him where I'm going," Harry said looking at where Dumbledore stood a moment earlier.
"Well, I believe you'll be happy with it, so I'm going to let it be a surprise," Sirius said with a grin. Harry spent the rest of the evening trying to get the secret from him, but Sirius wouldn't give it up. He would just have to wait and see.
The next morning came too fast for Harry, and he was packing the few things he had taken out back into his trunk. He ate breakfast with Sirius and waited for Dumbledore to come. Soon enough they heard the familiar popping sound and Dumbledore was in the room with them.
"Good morning!" he said cheerfully.
"Good morning, professor," Harry said. "Where am I going today?"
"I see Sirius hasn't told you, eh? Well not too much longer to wait. Are you all packed and ready to go?"
"Yes, I'll go grab my things."
He ran to the room he had stayed in and dragged his trunk and other belongings out to where Dumbledore was waiting.
"We will use floo powder to get there and we're going at the same time, so let's bring all of your things near the fireplace."
When everything was ready Harry went over to Sirius and gave him a hug.
"I'll see you again when school starts," Sirius said to him.
Harry nodded and said goodbye, then went over to where Dumbledore was waiting for him. They picked up the trunk with everything else on top of it and Dumbledore threw in the powder. As they stepped in Harry heard him say:
Once again, he was off through the floo network. When he stepped out of the fire as they arrived, he saw they were in Dumbledore's office.
"But…how?" was all Harry could ask looking bewildered.
"Besides your house, this was always the safest place for you," Dumbledore said to him. "Now that we know you're not safe there, I had only one choice left."
"I didn't think student were allowed to stay here during the summer," Harry said.
"Normally we don't allow it, but these are very special circumstances. You're life is in danger, and I will do everything in my power to keep you away from Voldemort."
"Will I be sleeping in my regular bed?" he asked.
"Yes you will have the Gryffindor tower for yourself, the password you will use for the summer is 'cinnamon'. You will still get all your meals in the great hall, and use the library whenever you want. The classrooms will all be locked until school begins again."
Harry felt excitement building inside him. He would be able to explore the school without being able to get detention or lose points for his house because classes hadn't begun yet. He could hardly wait to get started.
"Now if you don't have any more questions, you can head up to your room, your things are already there."
Harry looked around and realized his things were gone. He hadn't thought the house elves would be here all year too. He nodded at Dumbledore and headed out into the hall, thinking this would be one of the best summers he'd had in a while.
Harry's first couple of weeks went by without incident. Surprisingly, he spent a lot of time doing homework. Now that he didn't have to worry about using magic in front of muggles, he could actually test the spells and charms he was supposed to be writing about. He had sent letters with Hedwig to Ron and Hermione, explaining what had happened, and they had sent responses expressing their concern for him. Ron was more jealous than anything though; Harry had the run of Hogwart's with no one to bother him.
But he was lonely too. There were no kids around and the only people he had seen were Dumbledore and Filch, who Harry supposed, never left. The ghosts were there but the only one he talked to was Nearly-Headless Nick, and not very often, either. He wasn't allowed outside by himself and he had no one to come with him, so by the time it was almost his birthday, Harry was thoroughly bored and he still had a month left before school started.
He was down in the common room reading a book on quidditch the night before he turned 16, when he heard a noise. He turned to see the portrait hole swing open, and Ron and Hermione ran in with big smiles on their faces. Harry jumped up and could barely contain his excitement at seeing them.
"What are you two doing here?" he asked in amazement.
"Dumbledore said we could come, just for a couple of days, for your birthday," Hermione answered him.
Harry was overjoyed; then he noticed that Fred, George, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley were in the room as well.
"Happy Birthday, Harry dear!" Mrs. Weasley said smiling. She went to Harry and gave him a hug. "I'm not staying, just wanted to drop off your gift, don't open it until tomorrow, mind you!" Then she turned to address the others, "I'll be back for all of you day after tomorrow, have fun!" She smiled at Harry again and then went back through the portrait hole.
"This is so wicked!" Ron exclaimed when his mother had gone. "We have no one to bother us or take points from us, we can do whatever we want!"
"Not exactly," Harry said. "I can't go outside without someone else and all of the classrooms are locked and there is literally no one to do anything with besides Dumbledore and Filch. Dumbledore is very busy and who wants to spend time with Filch?"
"Well we'll go outside with you," Fred spoke up. "We can play quidditch down on the pitch, since this'll be our last chance and all." Harry hadn't even thought of that, Fred and George would not be in school this year.
"Definitely, we have to! It'll be my last chance to play with you guys!" Harry said.
"I know it's a crushing blow for you isn't it?" George said appearing sad, then he smiled and said, "Well you can still come to our house, though it's not quite the same, I know."
They talked a lot more that night about what they had all been doing over the summer, but as it got later, Harry was the one who suggested they get to sleep.
"I don't want to stop but I don't want to sleep through tomorrow either," he explained.
"Well, because it's you're birthday, alright…but just this once!" Fred teased. "Happy Birthday, Harry!"
"Yes, Happy Birthday," George put in. "Wait, I don't have to say that again when we wake up, do I?"
Harry just laughed at them. Everyone started to get up and head up to the dorms.
"Good night Harry," Ron said as they got into their beds.
"Good night Ron," Harry answered through a yawn. He drifted off to sleep feeling nothing except happiness.
The next morning, Harry woke up with a feeling of excitement because he'd never spent a birthday with his friends. He looked over at Ron's bed and saw he was already up, so he grabbed his glasses, jumped out of bed, and headed down the stairs. When he entered the common room he saw everyone there trying to set up all the presents on a table, presumably they wanted to finish before he came down. Harry started to back up, not wanting to ruin the surprise, but Ginny spotted him.
"He's here!" she whispered loudly. They all turned around to see Harry partway in the doorway to the common room. Hermione looked a little upset that they weren't quick enough but the others just smiled.
"Finally!" Fred said loudly. "I was beginning to think we'd really have to finish setting these up!"
"Yeah, what took ya?" George added with a huge grin.
"Happy Birthday Harry!" Hermione said smiling at him.
Harry walked fully into the room feeling extremely happy. They spent the next hour watching him open their gifts and passing them around for everyone to see. He got the usual treats from Mrs. Weasley, Fred and George gave him lots of their trick wands and candy and such, Ginny gave him a poster of England's quidditch team, Ron gave him candy – not trick candy – and Hermione gave him a moving picture of him, Ron and her.
"When was this taken?" Harry asked looking at him and Ron playing a game of chess while Hermione went back and forth from watching them play to reading a book.
"Colin Creevey took it, last year," she explained. "I saw him do it while you two were playing and asked him if I could have a copy. I know you don't have any pictures of the three of us so I thought it would be nice."
"Thank you," he said, truly meaning it. He didn't have any pictures of them together, so this was his first.
"Well then, I'm famished, shall we go see what the house-elves have prepared for breakfast?" George said grinning devilishly at Hermione. She scowled at him but didn't say anything. Harry and Ron just laughed at her; they all went back up to get dressed, then headed down to the great hall for breakfast.
When they finished eating, they immediately headed down to the pitch. Harry was so happy to be outside and he couldn't wait to be on his broom again. It was his favorite thing in the whole world. Hermione and Ginny were going to watch but Harry and Ron talked them into playing, only after they promised they would play without bludgers.
Soon they were all up in the air, Ron was playing keeper, Fred and George made up one team, Harry, Hermione and Ginny the other. They weren't using the bludgers or the snitch, so they just kept trying to score goals with the quaffle. As none of them were chasers, the teams were pretty evenly matched.
The game was tied at 20 apiece, when Harry tossed the quaffle to Hermione. It was the first time she got her hands on it all game, she pulled her arm back and threw it with all her strength. It flew far over the goal hoops, and landed somewhere behind Hagrid's hut.
"You've got a great arm!" George exclaimed looking at Hermione in awe.
"But horrible aim," Fred added with a grin.
"It's just her first time, guys, leave her alone," Harry said. "I'll go get the quaffle." He turned on his broom and headed towards Hagrid's, but he had to search for it when he landed as the underbrush had grown quite a lot. Since Hagrid hadn't been around for a while, it wasn't kept up as regularly as usual. Finally after slowly trudging around and looking for 10 minutes he caught a glimpse of red a few feet away. He pushed his way over to it but when he moved to grab it, something jumped out of the grass in front of him.
He stood up quickly and saw a very tall thin creature in front of him. It had blue skin and it's head looked like a frog's…only it had a neck. It looked at Harry, then noticed the scar on his forehead, and it's eyes widened. Harry noticed the creature looked petrified, after a few moments of staring at each other, he opened his mouth to speak to it, but he heard another voice before he could say anything.
"Harry, where are you? Did you get lost?" he heard Ron yell. Harry looked from the creature to where Ron's voice had come from and finally started to call out to his friends, when the creature suddenly lunged forward. Harry was knocked to the ground and the creature ran past him. He looked after it until it disappeared into the Forbidden Forest.
"What are you doing?"
Harry looked over his shoulder and saw Ron had landed behind him. He stood up quickly and brushed himself off.
"Did you find the quaffle while you were down there?" Ron asked.
"Yes, um…did you see that thing, I don't know what it was. It ran into the forest, just over that way," Harry said pointing.
"What thing? What are you talking about?" Ron asked.
"Never mind. C'mon," he said picking up the quaffle, "let's get back to the game."
Harry put the encounter out of his mind. He figured it was just another of the strange creatures that lived in the forest. Maybe it was in Hagrid's garden looking for food for all he knew. They flew back over to the pitch to where the others were waiting and continued their game. Harry persuaded them to stay out until it started getting dark because he knew it would be awhile before he was outside again.
Later on, in the common room, Harry and Ron played a game of chess with everyone else trying to give Harry tips. Then they played a few games of exploding snap. Before they knew it, it was very late, and they were all fighting to stay awake.
"This w-wouldn't be ha-hap-happening if you hadn't made us stay out so long, Harry," Fred said to him trying to stifle a yawn.
"You don't understand how much I needed to be outside," Harry said grinning sleepily.
They eventually lost the fight, and headed upstairs to the dorms. Harry was sad they would be leaving the next day, but he was too happy at having spent a birthday with them to let it bother him; even thoughts of the strange creature were forgotten, as he quickly fell asleep.
Mrs. Weasley arrived the next morning to take everyone back home. Harry wished he could go stay with them, but knew Dumbledore would never allow it. They did make plans to go to Diagon Alley together though, a week before school starts.
As the next couple of weeks slowly passed by, Harry spent most of his time reading. Dumbledore would look in on him occasionally, but for the most part he was on his own. Sometimes he would stay up so late with a book he would fall asleep in the common room and wake up very stiff the next morning.
Then on one of these nights, he woke up in the common room and saw two giant eyes staring back at him. He forced himself backwards into the chair he was in and saw that the eyes belonged to the creature from Hagrid's garden. Harry didn't know whether he should be afraid, as the creature seemed terrified enough of him.
"You are Harry Potter, yes?" the creature said in a very squeaky, quivering voice. Harry was taken aback by the fact that the creature could speak and didn't say anything for a minute.
"You are not?" it asked, looking confused.
"What, oh… er, yes, I am." Harry sputtered, finding his voice. "Who are you? How did you get in here?"
"I am called Corfay and I came here to find you. We have something in common, we do. Voldemort is after both of us."
Harry was shocked when he heard this.
"What? Why is he after you? Does he know you're here?" Harry asked feeling dread building inside him.
"I can always feel him," Corfay said glancing around nervously, "he is very close. I am sorry for you, Harry Potter, very, very, sorry."
Harry's head was spinning. Was Voldemort here now? Why did this creature need to find him? What could he do to help? He opened his mouth again to ask another question, when the creature reached forward and roughly grabbed Harry's arms. He winced at how tightly Corfay was holding him and wouldn't have believed by looking at him that he was this strong. He started to struggle but then stopped as he was stunned by what he was seeing.
It looked like electricity was running through Corfay's arms, Harry felt a surge run through his body and sat bolt upright. It was painful and wonderful all at the same time. When it was over, Harry felt weaker than he could ever remember. He sat in the chair unable to move, staring at Corfay, who also looked very drained.
"I…I am sorry, Harry Potter," he said looking truly upset, then he spun around and moved towards the window. He glanced once over his shoulder and looked at Harry again, then he let himself fall forward.
Harry was staring in disbelief, trying to will himself out of the chair to see if Corfay was alright, but he couldn't. His body was not responding to anything he tried to do, and it was becoming very hard to stay conscious. Finally he could stay awake no longer, and was swallowed by darkness.
When he finally woke up he could barely see anything. He pushed himself up and realized he was in a bed. He felt around next to him on either side and he found his glasses. When he put them on he saw he was in his four- poster, then he noticed Sirius was asleep in Ron's bed.
Harry pushed the covers back and slowly swung his legs over the side, he was still achy everywhere. When he stood up, he immediately felt dizzy, and leaned back down on the bed again. Sirius heard him moving and sat up quickly in the bed.
"Harry!" he said showing obvious relief. "You're awake, how are you?"
"Feeling a little dizzy," Harry said. "Why are you here?"
"Dumbledore sent for me. I asked him to let me know if anything out of the ordinary happened. When you never came down for any of your meals a few days ago, he went to check on you. You were asleep in one of the chairs downstairs, but there were strange burns on your arms. He put you in your bed, you would have been in the hospital wing but no one is there right now, then he sent for me."
"You said a few days ago. I was asleep for a few days?" Harry asked feeling dazed.
"Yes, and we need you to tell us what happened so we can understand why. Do you remember anything?"
"Yes," he answered, remembering very well the feeling that had gone through him.
"Good. I'm going to get Dumbledore and we'll want to hear everything. Are you well enough for that?" Harry nodded and Sirius was out the door.
Harry pulled his covers up around him again and looked at his arms. What had Corfay done to him? And why? He hoped Dumbledore would be able to answer these questions. He leaned back against his pillows and waited.
After a short while, Sirius came back into the room followed by Dumbledore. Harry had started to doze off again but Sirius shook him gently back awake.
"Harry, are you really up to this? If you are too tired we can do it another time." Sirius told him.
"No, I'm fine," Harry said. "Hello professor."
"Hello Harry," Dumbledore said with a smile, "quite a scare you gave us. Please tell us what you can remember, so we can find out what did this to you."
"Isn't it obvious who it was?" Sirius asked angrily.
"It wasn't Voldemort," Harry told them. "I don't know what he was, but he said his name was Corfay."
Harry explained everything that had happened the night Corfay got into the school, and also told them how he had seen him on his birthday.
"Why didn't you tell me this before?" Dumbledore asked him.
"I thought he was just one of the creatures from the forest, I really didn't think anything of it. He seemed more scared of me than anything, so I didn't think of him as a threat. Even the night he was here he seemed very reluctant, like he didn't want to do…whatever it was he did. He said Voldemort was after him too."
Harry stopped to think for a moment, then realized something he hadn't before.
"He actually said the name too, Voldemort. He didn't say You-Know-Who like everyone else does." Harry shivered involuntarily and felt a sudden pain go through him, but it wasn't caused by his scar. Sirius looked at him with concern and then turned to Dumbledore.
"We have to find out who this Corfay is and what he did to Harry."
"You're right Sirius," Dumbledore said grimly, "We most certainly do." Then without any explanation, he stood up quickly and left the room.
"What was that all about?" Harry asked looking towards the door. It was very unlike Dumbledore to behave like that.
"I'm not sure," Sirius answered looking after him as well. "I'll have to speak with him when he's a bit less…preoccupied." Then he turned back to Harry. "So, you are feeling better then? Is there anything else you need to tell me?"
"I'm feeling better, yes. Still very tired, though I can't understand why if I've been asleep for a few days."
"And we'll find out why, I promise you. Now you better get some rest, if you want to go to Diagon Alley with your friends tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Harry asked.
"Yes, we thought you might sleep through it and we'd have to have the Weasleys get everything for you. But you wouldn't let that happen I see, you've woken up just in time," Sirius said with a playful grin.
Harry just smiled at him and laid back down. He definitely didn't want to miss the yearly trip to Diagon Alley. Especially since it would mean seeing his friends again. He was almost glad he had slept through the last few days as it certainly made them go by quicker. He was asleep almost as soon as his head touched the pillow.
The next morning Harry woke up feeling like nothing had happened. None of the tiredness from the day before was affecting him today. He got dressed quickly and went down for breakfast. Dumbledore was down in the great hall waiting for him.
"Good morning Harry, feeling better?"
"Yes sir, much better," Harry answered feeling uneasy. He knew that Dumbledore was still concerned over what had happened but he didn't want to be told he couldn't go today.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to keep you from going to Diagon Alley." Dumbledore said with a grin. Harry smiled with relief; he truly believed that Dumbledore was able to read minds. "I do want you to stay with the Weasleys the entire time. Do not for any reason go off on your own. Will you promise me?"
"I promise," Harry said, truly meaning it. He had no intention of wandering off, remembering what happened last year.
"Very good then. When you are finished with breakfast, you may come up to my office, and use floo powder to get to Diagon Alley."
"Harry! Over here!"
Harry turned and saw Ron, Hermione and Ginny running towards him.
"Hey guys!" he said as they neared each other. "Have you been here long?"
"We just got here. Dumbledore told us to wait for you here, but we didn't have to wait long at all." Hermione said.
They headed to Gringott's first and filled their bags with money, then they went to get their books.
"Do you think Hagrid will be back this year?" Ron asked as he and Harry were looking around Flourish and Blotts.
"I don't know. I haven't received anything from him since last year. I hope everything's okay," Harry answered.
"Well as much as I like Hagrid and all, Care of Magical Creatures is a lot less dangerous with Dumbledore teaching," Ron said.
"Yes, but he shouldn't be teaching it. Mrs. Figg should…" Harry trailed off feeling suddenly guilty. Ron shuffled his feet, not sure what to say.
"Are you two just about ready?" Hermione asked from behind them.
They brought their things to the front to pay for their books.
They made the rest of the rounds, getting potion supplies from the Apothecary, getting the length of their robes adjusted at Madam Malkin's, and then stopped at Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop to have a look around.
"Fred and George's trick magic jokes are much better than these," Harry said looking around.
"And we don't have to pay for them, yet anyway," Ron added.
"It's gonna be so weird not seeing them at school this year," Harry said. "Do you realize we're the only members on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team right now?"
Ron looked at him as if he were realizing this for the first time.
"Bloody hell! We're going to have to choose all new team members by ourselves?" he exclaimed.
"I hope we have better beaters and chasers then we did keepers. Last year's tryouts were truly horrible."
They all left the joke shop and headed over to Florean Fortescue's for ice cream. After they sat down, they saw something was going on across the street. There was a crowd of people who were all whispering back and forth to each other. Harry could make out three tall figures behind the crowd, talking to some bystanders, who seemed very nervous. He took a closer look at the figures and gasped as they all turned their heads to look at him. They all looked exactly like Corfay. Hermione and Ron looked at Harry, confused, he hadn't told them yet about what had happened. Harry sat, frozen to his chair, as the three creatures moved towards him.
The three creatures stopped right in front of Harry.
"Give it back," one of them said in a low voice. Harry didn't even realize for a moment that the creature was talking to him.
"Give what back?" he asked. He had no idea what they were talking about.
"Don't fool around with us!" one of them yelled suddenly leaning forward. "It isn't yours, return it now!"
Harry pushed his chair back and stood up. He backed away from the creatures slowly. He was looking around wildly but everyone was just staring at them, not moving, even Ron and Hermione didn't do anything. Then, Mr. Weasley appeared behind the creatures.
"Leave him alone. You have no business here," Mr. Weasley said, addressing the creatures.
"You do not tell us our business," one of them said turning to him.
"I do here. You know you are not allowed in this place. I suggest you leave now. There will be Ministry members here shortly. Did you think we would not notice your arrival?" Mr. Weasley was looking at them smugly.
The creatures appeared to know they could not win, so they turned to go.
"Don't think you are getting out of this so easily, boy. We will get what is rightfully ours." one of them said to Harry before they left. Harry stood there in shock. What had they been talking about? He didn't have anything, did he? Whatever it was he would certainly return it if it meant not having to see them again. Mr. Weasley came over to Harry then.
"Are you alright?" he asked showing much concern.
"Yes, I'm fine." Harry told him. Ron and Hermione, no longer transfixed by the creatures, came over to them.
"What was that all about?" Ron asked.
"I'm not sure," Harry told them. "One of those things, not any of those three, but one of them, got into the tower a few nights ago." He looked at the others shocked faces and explained quickly what happened.
"So that thing, Corfay, he gave you something?" Hermione asked.
"As far as I know he gave me a long nap and lots of aches and pains, if he gave me anything else I haven't seen it yet."
"Come on," Mr. Weasley said then. "I think we need to get you back to Hogwart's, immediately."
The Weasleys and Hermione went with Harry back to Hogwart's. Arthur spoke to Dumbledore about what had happened and Dumbledore looked far from pleased. After they finished talking they left to go back to the Burrow. Harry told his friends he would see them in a week, realizing he wouldn't get to ride on the train with them, and watched them go. Then he turned to Dumbledore.
"Do you know what the creatures were talking about? Do I have something that belongs to them?"
"Only time will tell," Dumbledore said, then he turned away and went to sit down. Harry stared at him, feeling very confused and wishing Dumbledore would just tell him what he obviously knew.
"They seemed very sure of it," Harry pressed on. "What are they? Why did Mr. Weasley say they weren't allowed there?"
"They are called Zlamfimians, or the Zlam. They do possess the power to use magic, just as we do. For many years now they have been banned by the Ministry of Magic from any areas that humans reside in. Since neither side gets along well with the other, no one argued this, but the ministry keeps careful watch on them, just as they do on us. There is no trust between us."
"Why not?" Harry asked, intrigued.
"Don't worry about it now," Dumbledore said trying to smile but looking very grim. "I, unfortunately am quite busy at this time, and I must ask that you return to your tower. Please just try to put these thoughts out of your mind for the time being."
Harry didn't know if that was possible, but he nodded and left the room. He couldn't help but be afraid of the Zlam. They thought he had something that belonged to them, and one of them had already gotten into the school before. He wondered if that's what Corfay was trying to do, take whatever they thought he had. Harry tried to push these thoughts out of his head, as he walked alone through the empty hallways.
September 1st arrived soon enough, and Harry was overjoyed that he would have his friends to hang out with by that evening. He spent the afternoon pacing the common room. He tried to read, but he couldn't concentrate. It was definitely the longest day so far.
All of the teachers had arrived at the school in the last week, but they were busy getting ready and Harry didn't want to bother them. He hadn't seen Lupin yet but figured he would be arriving today. As it got closer to the time when the train would be arriving, Harry went to see Dumbledore to ask if he could go out with him to greet the students, and take the carriages back to the school. He was fine with this so when it was time, they left together.
When the train pulled in, Harry looked around anxiously waiting to spot his friends. He spotted Neville and Dean first; who waved to him appearing confused he was already there. Harry just waved back and smiled, continuing on down the train. When he reached the end, Ron and Hermione were just stepping off; they smiled at Harry as he came over to them.
"Harry! They let you out of the school, ey?" Ron said jokingly.
"I wanted to at least go in with everyone," Harry told them. "I felt kinda silly about sitting in the great hall by myself waiting for all of you to arrive."
They started to head over to the carriages, when Harry spotted another familiar face.
"Su!" he called. Su turned around quickly and smiled.
"Harry, Ron, Hermione!" she ran over to them. "How have you guys been?" she asked excitedly.
They all sat in a carriage together and talked the whole ride there about their summers, Harry listened to most of it not wanting to say much to Su about his summer. The parts that weren't frightening, were boring.
When they reached the school, they stepped out of the carriages and headed in to the great hall. They spread out to their tables and awaited the arrival of the first years. After a short while, they started to wonder what was keeping everyone, then the doors of the great hall banged open and the first years walked in, without Professor McGonagall.
Harry glanced nervously at Ron and Hermione. The first years moved up to the front of the room and stood there, anxiously waiting. A few of the teachers had gotten up from their seats and were now heading towards the doors.
"What do you think is going on?" Hermione asked.
"I don't know-" Harry started. Just then Dumbledore and McGonagall appeared at the door. They spoke quietly with the other teachers for a moment, and then started heading for the front of the room. Professor McGonagall grabbed the stool and the sorting hat, while the other teachers went back around to their seats. Dumbledore remained standing and then began to address the students.
"I apologize to all of you, for the delay. There was a small problem, but I assure you it's all taken care of. Now, Professor McGonagall, if you would please begin?" McGonagall nodded and began calling out names as she did every year for the sorting. Harry was trying to concentrate but was finding it hard to do. He wanted to know what the problem was. Surely if it had been minor they wouldn't have sent the first years in alone, would they? He was shaken out of his thoughts when the rest of his table erupted in applause, as the first new Gryffindor joined their table.
When the sorting had finished, and everyone began eating, no one talked about what had happened. Harry decided not to bring it up and decided he would just try to ask Dumbledore about it. But when the meal had ended, Dumbledore's usual speech was finished, and everyone started to get up to leave, Harry saw McGonagall heading over to them.
"Mr. Weasley, Miss. Granger, I need the two of you to come with me please, Professor Dumbledore wishes to speak with you." They both got up and looked at Harry, expecting she would ask him too.
"Now please," she said quickly and started off. Harry watched them walk away; feeling bewildered, but knew his questions would have to wait. He stood up to follow the rest of the students back to the tower.
Harry sat in the common room with Ginny, waiting for the others to return. She was trying to have a conversation with him but he was barely hearing her.
"So, do you know?" she asked.
"What?…Oh, I'm sorry, Ginny. I didn't hear you."
"I noticed. I asked if you know when you're going to hold the quidditch tryouts this year."
"I have to talk to Ron. We're going to have to figure out how we're going to hold tryouts with hardly anyone on our team."
They both looked up as the portrait hole swung open and Ron and Hermione walked in.
"What did Dumbledore want?" Harry asked immediately as they came over to sit down. Ron and Hermione looked at each other than back at Harry.
"Um…Harry, we're…um…" Ron started.
"We're not allowed to tell you." Hermione said, turning red. She quickly busied herself with studying her hands.
"What do you mean? Why wouldn't you be allowed to tell me?" Harry asked.
"Oh come on, Hermione. I don't see what-" Ron started.
"No! You heard what Dumbledore said. We have to keep our word!" Hermione said fiercely, glaring at Ron.
Harry was looking at both of them, anger building inside him.
"This is about those things, in Diagon Alley, isn't it?" he asked through clenched teeth.
"The Zlam…" Ron started, then realized what he had said and shut his mouth.
"Do you know what Corfay did to me?" Harry asked looking back and forth between the two of them.
"No we don't," Hermione spoke up. "Harry, if Professor Dumbledore gave you information and you gave him your word you would tell no one, you would keep your word, right? That's what we're doing too. Please don't ask us again."
Harry looked at her and realized she was right. He wouldn't break his word to Dumbledore and felt guilty trying to get them to do it. He nodded at her and stood up.
"I'm going to bed. I don't feel much like talking right now," he turned and headed up the stairs without saying goodnight. He was feeling very angry with Dumbledore for keeping things from him. He just kept telling himself that it must be for a good reason. It was a long time before he finally fell asleep.
At breakfast the next morning, nobody said much. Harry wasn't mad at his friends, but they didn't seem to know what to say to him.
"What do we have first?" Harry asked them, wanting to break the silence.
"Potions…" Ron grumbled, but he looked relieved that Harry was speaking to them.
"Maybe Snape won't be so bad this year, after what happened last year and everything." Hermione suggested.
"I highly doubt Snape will be our best friend all of a sudden," Harry said. "I saw him the day he arrived and he wouldn't say two words to me. Just glared, as usual."
"He's probably still angry that you ended up saving his life, the ungrateful git," Ron said laughing.
They finished breakfast and headed down to the dungeons area. When the got there, most of the Slytherins were already present. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle were at their usual spot near the front, they glared at Harry, Ron and Hermione when they walked in, then went back to whispering to each other. Professor Snape arrived soon after and the class began.
"We will be working on Memory Potions, to start," Snape said. "Can anyone tell me, what birds feathers we would use for one of these potions?" He looked around the room, smirking.
"Why does he always ask us questions he knows we haven't read about?" Ron whispered to Harry.
"You should've looked in you book after you bought it," Hermione said to him, waving her hand wildly. She was the only one who was doing so.
"Well sorry if I don't read the entire book the moment I get it," Ron mumbled.
Harry wasn't hearing any of this; he was feeling very strange all of a sudden. Then without warning, a sharp pain coursed through his body, causing him to cry out. Everyone turned to stare at him.
"Mr. Potter," Snape started. "You must know the answer, since you can't even wait until I call on you to speak. Enlighten us." Snape stood in front of him, sneering.
Then Harry realized he knew the answer. He didn't know how, but he knew.
"Jobberknoll," he said still aching from the pain a moment earlier. "You would use Jobberknoll feathers." Snape glared at him, but turned and stalked back to the front of the class.
"How did you know that?" Ron asked him. Harry shrugged and turned back to look at Snape.
"Since you have obviously read all about this, why don't you tell us what else is required to make a memory potion, Mr. Potter?"
Harry cringed inwardly, knowing he had read nothing about this. But he started talking, without even realizing it. He named every ingredient needed for the potion. Snape couldn't possibly have been angrier, but Harry had done nothing wrong, so he stopped calling on him. They spent the rest of the class going over exactly what had to be done to make the potions, and would be starting them next week.
As they left the room when class ended, all the Gryffindors were congratulating Harry on ticking off Snape. Harry just nodded and began walking with his friends, who were looking at him cautiously.
"What?" Harry finally asked. He couldn't take the staring anymore. It was now after dinner and everyone was in the common room, talking and playing games.
"Did something happen to you in Snape's class?" Hermione asked. "You cried out like you were in pain before you answered all those questions."
"I did feel something, I don't know where it came from, but just for a second," Harry said quickly.
"How did you know all that stuff?" Ron asked. "Did you read the new book? I thought only Hermione did that." Hermione gave him a glare, but quickly turned her attention back to Harry.
"I didn't read the book, not yet. I just…knew. I can't explain it any more than that." He looked into their faces and saw they were very concerned. "Why is that such a bad thing? You always get the answers, Hermione, so I get a few and it's cause for alarm?"
"But I get them by reading the books Harry. You just…I don't know what you did, but something strange is going on." Hermione said. Just then Ginny came up to them and sat down.
"I hear you can read minds," she said smiling at Harry. "You really ticked Snape off today, didn't you?" Harry smiled at her, glad that someone was happy for him.
"Yes, he was pretty mad. Probably because he couldn't take points away from me for anything." He continued talking with Ginny for a few moments more, then she left to go join her friends again. When he turned around, he saw Ron and Hermione had left.
Harry guessed they must have gone to see Dumbledore. He felt anger over this because they knew more about what had happened to him then he did. He headed upstairs to the dorm and went to go sit on his bed, when and idea came to him and he went over to his trunk. After sifting through a few things, he pulled out the Marauder's Map. He checked the stairway to make sure no one was coming up, then pulled out his wand and pointed it at the map.
"I solemnly swear I am up to no good," he said, and the map opened up to him. It was just as he suspected. In Dumbledore's office he saw there was, Hermione, Ron, McGonagall, and Dumbledore. Harry thought of going there now, but knew that whatever they wouldn't talk about anything in front of him. He thought of using the invisibility cloak, but knew that he couldn't fool Dumbledore with it. He looked down at the map again, and saw Lupin entering the office now.
Harry couldn't take it anymore; he had to know. He decided he was going to go to Dumbledore's office and just ask him what was going on. There was no reason that he could see, to keep information from him. And if there was a good reason, he wanted to know it. He folded the map and put it in his pocket, then headed downstairs.
When he was just about to the office, he pulled out the map again and saw that everyone was still there, but another name on the map caught his eye. Not in Dumbledore's office, but in the hospital wing, far in the back where he had never been.
The name was Corfay.
Harry's first impulse was to run down to the hospital wing. Corfay would be able to answer all of his questions. But he knew Madam Pomfrey was there, and he didn't think she'd let him in. He thought of the invisibility cloak and decided that would be his only way, so he turned and headed down the hall.
"Harry, what are you doing here?"
Harry shoved the map into his pocket and spun around, Ron and Hermione were standing behind him.
"I…um, I was coming…I needed to speak with Dumbledore. What are you doing here?" Harry asked trying to sound like he hadn't known they were there.
"We needed to speak with him too," Hermione answered, looking at him suspiciously. They stood there in awkward silence for a moment.
"Well, are you going in then?" Hermione asked him. Harry was stuck, he wanted to get back to his trunk and his cloak so he could find Corfay, but he couldn't let Ron and Hermione know this.
"Yes, um…see you later," Harry said to them as he walked past. They both watched him as he went to the statue and said the password to get into the office. When he stepped inside, Dumbledore, Lupin and McGonagall were deep in conversation. They looked up at him as he came in the room.
"Harry," Dumbledore said, "What is it?" He smiled kindly but Harry could see something was bothering him.
"Professor," Harry began, "Why do you have Ron and Hermione watching me?"
"Did they tell you I had them watching you?"
"No, but I know you talked to them last night and they –"
"Harry, there is something going on that is very big," Dumbledore interrupted, "Voldemort was after Corfay for something and we don't know what it is. My fear is that he gave it, whatever it is, to you."
"Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"We weren't sure before. I asked your friends just to watch for anything unusual. I wasn't certain if there would be any signs of what was done to you and I know your tendency to keep things to yourself. I am sorry if I upset you but I needed to know."
"So then, when I knew the answers today, in potions, that was part of what Corfay gave me."
"We believe so, but that's certainly not what Voldemort is after, which is why we need to know anything that happens, no matter how small, that is out of the ordinary for you." Harry thought about asking them why they didn't just talk with Corfay, since he was in the school. But he didn't want them to know he knew yet as he wanted to speak with Corfay himself. Instead he thanked them and said goodnight and left to head back to his tower.
When Harry was completely out of sight, he pulled out the map again, Corfay was still in the hospital wing, and Madam Pomfrey was still in her office. He sighed and went back to the tower, when he stepped into the common room it was mostly deserted. Hermione and Ron were still up waiting for him, so he went over and sat down.
"What did you need to talk to him about?" Ron asked. Harry thought about it for a moment, then decided he would tell them the truth. He explained how he had originally gone to the office when he looked at the Marauder's Map, to ask what was going on. Then he told how he had seen Corfay's name, and was just about to head down there, when they came out and spotted him.
"So Corfay is here then?" Ron asked with wide eyes. "Do you think he'll try to hurt you again?"
"I don't think he tried to hurt me last time," Harry said. "You two didn't know he was here?"
"Of course not!" Hermione said. "Why would we?"
"Well Dumbledore said he asked you to tell him if I acted…strangely."
"Yes he did, he also explained to us that the creatures in Diagon Alley were Zlamfimians. But he didn't go into great detail on what they were." Hermione told him. Harry explained the little bit of information Dumbledore had given him about the Zlam.
"Do you think we could find anything on them in the library?" He asked them.
"No," Ron answered. "Dumbledore told us we wouldn't find anything, I think he was mostly talking to Hermione though." Hermione gave him an annoyed look.
"He just knew that we would want to know, to help Harry," she explained. "But we apparently don't keep records of them in our library. The only place that has them is the Ministry of Magic."
"Ron, do you think if we asked Percy really nicely…" Harry began.
"NO! No, Percy would not do anything like that for us and if we asked him he would tell on us. My dad already saw them come after you and he probably would realize what we we're up to as well."
"There must be some way we can find out about them!" Hermione exclaimed.
"I know one way," Harry said. "I want to go down and talk with Corfay.
"Harry no! It could be dangerous!" Hermione said.
"Do you know another way?"
"We can find one…" she said in a small voice. "Please just wait, just a little while, until we're sure there is no other way. Please?" Hermione pleaded with him. Harry didn't want to, but he knew she was probably right, so he agreed, but he didn't say how long he would wait.
"Alright everyone, take your seats," Professor McGonagall said. It was the end of the first week and they were in transfiguration. They were going to be starting off right away with practical lessons. They had to take their ink bottles, change the ink into water, and then change it back. McGonagall started to explain how to do this, but Harry wasn't listening to her, he started to get the strange feeling again. He felt pain, but not so much that it made him cry out. His vision blurred for a moment and when everything came back into focus he was fine, and he knew how to perform the change.
"I want you all to try what I've told you now," he heard her say. He picked up his wand, pointed it at his ink bottle, and watched as the liquid changed color, until it was perfectly clear. Ron, who was sitting next to him, had just started to ask him a question when he noticed Harry's bottle.
"How did you do that?" he asked in amazement. He glanced over his shoulder at Hermione who still hadn't changed hers yet and looked back. Harry just smiled at him.
"I just, followed the instructions," he lied. He had not even heard them and he wasn't sure how to explain what had happened, because he didn't know.
"What's all the talking about?" McGonagall said coming over to them. "Oh, I see Mr. Potter was paying attention, see?" she said holding up his bottle. Everyone in the class looked at the bottle and then at Harry.
"Is it really water?" Malfoy asked from the back of the room. "Or did he just change the color?" Professor McGonagall handed the bottle back to Harry.
"Care to tell us, Mr. Potter?" she asked. Harry picked up the bottle and took a sip. If it had been ink still, he would have spit it back out instantly, but it had indeed changed completely. Harry swallowed it and nodded his head.
"Yes, it's changed." He said smiling at McGonagall.
"Good, now change it back."
The class watched as Harry pointed his wand at the bottle again, and in seconds the color flooded back into it. Before anyone could say anything, Harry dipped his quill into it and began writing, to show he had done it correctly.
Everyone immediately went back to their own bottles of ink, inspired by Harry's success. Professor McGonagall gave him a rare smile, and started off around the room again to see who needed help. Ron just looked at Harry for a few moments.
"I think you can read minds, you know." Ron told him finally.
"You mean you think I'm not smart enough to have done this on my own? I'm insulted," Harry said jokingly. "But if that is what I'm doing, I wish I could control it," he added.
Ron just shook his head and went back to his own ink bottle.
When class ended McGonagall asked Harry to stay for a moment because she needed to speak with him.
"Mr. Potter, that was quite impressive what you did today," she said.
"Thank you, professor," he replied, uneasily. He knew she didn't keep him after just to say that.
"Did you follow the instructions I gave you, or did you do something else?"
"Something else?" he asked, not wanting to tell her. She gave him a stern look and he knew he wasn't fooling her.
"I don't know how I knew it. But I didn't listen to your instructions. I got the same feeling I had in Potions a few days ago, and then I just knew. It wasn't as strong as it was last time though, it didn't hurt as much." She considered what he had said, and nodded.
"I am going to tell Dumbledore that it happened again. We need you to tell us whenever these things happen. I know you think you can handle this and I know you can take care of yourself. But you even admit you don't know what is causing this, so until we find out, you must tell us anything that happens. Do you understand?"
"Can the Zlam read minds?" he asked her suddenly.
"Do you know what is happening to me then? Or do you know why Professor Dumbledore is keeping it from me?"
"If he is keeping anything from you than he has his reasons. Now will you promise to tell us if this continues to happen?" she said ignoring his other question.
"Yes," he said with a sigh.
"Good, thank you. You may go now."
Harry turned away and walked out, without another word.
That weekend Harry told Ron they needed to talk about the quidditch tryouts.
"We need to find three chasers and two beaters, and fast," Harry said.
"So where do we start?" Ron asked.
"Well, we should probably do the same as last year. Let everyone sign up for what position they want, then hold a scrimmage on the pitch so we can see how they do."
"Do you think we'll need more than a week for this?"
"I don't know. Let's see how many people sign up, then we can decide."
As it turned out, mostly everyone in Gryffindor wanted a spot on the team. So Harry and Ron spent two weeks watching game after game of quidditch being played, and went through the lists every night to see who was best. The last night after tryouts, Harry and Ron sat in the locker rooms; going over the names they had left.
"I definitely think that the Creeveys keep trying out just because you're on the team," Ron said laughing. "Neither of them can concentrate within 50 feet of a bludger!"
"I agree, but your sister did outstanding as a chaser," Harry said looking at Ron.
"So did Dean Thomas and Su Chang," Ron said. "Anyone else we need to consider there?"
"Well, I would say Ray Deasen, instead of Dean Thomas," Harry added. "For chasers anyway, Dean did much better as a beater."
"Then we just need one more beater, and from what I saw, the best person besides Ray, was Natalie MacDonald."
"Yes, she was surprisingly good, I didn't think she'd be able to hit the bludgers so hard from looking at her."
"So, do we have a team then?" Ron asked. He was looking quite tired from two weeks of this.
"Yes, I would say so," Harry answered, smiling. "Let's head back up and tell everyone."
They stood up and headed towards the door, but Harry crashed into Ron as Ron had stopped short. He looked around him, and saw a very large snake blocking the doorway. Harry gasped as he recognized Nagini.
Nagini raised his head and looked at Ron and Harry. Then he looked around the room, as if he was searching for something. He started to hiss, but Harry understood him.
"Where is he?"
"Where is who?" Harry asked in Parseltongue.
"The librarian. I can feel him, where is he hiding?"
"I don't know who you're talking about," Harry said calmly. "We're the only ones here." He glanced over at Ron who was white as a sheet, looking back and forth from Harry to Nagini. Then Nagini started to move forward, straight towards them. He raised himself up, and being 12 feet long, came face to face with them. He looked closely at Ron, who was frozen to the spot, and then moved over to Harry. Harry stared back at him trying not to show the fear he was feeling, then saw Nagini's eyes register recognition.
"It's you…" he hissed.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, clearly not understanding.
"My master will be very pleased to know this," Nagini said, then he slithered away and out the door.
It was a long time before either Harry or Ron spoke. They stood their looking after where Nagini had just been; finally Ron broke the silence.
"What did he say?" he asked in a shaky voice.
"He was looking for a librarian," Harry said.
"Was he looking for Madam Pince?" Ron asked, confused.
"I don't think so. We have to go to Dumbledore with this now." Harry said firmly. He looked at Ron, who was not as pale as before and then started towards the door. They both walked into the school and headed straight for Dumbledore's office.
When they reached Dumbledore's office, Harry said the password and they both ran in, but he stopped short when he heard voices. After a moment he realized it was Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge, and they were arguing.
"I forbid you to say anything about it!" Fudge said in a loud voice.
"Cornelius, you know this is wrong, there is no reason Harry shouldn't be allowed to know," Dumbledore said, sounding perfectly calm.
"This discussion is over. I have told you what my decision is and I expect you to abide by it." Fudge said looking carefully at Dumbledore. Dumbledore just returned the look, not saying anything. Harry, who was very intrigued at this point, finally stepped into the room and cleared his throat; Ron stepped in behind him, but kept his eyes down.
"Professor, I'm sorry to interrupt, but I need to speak with you, it's important."
Fudge glared at Harry with such contempt that Harry had to avert his eyes. He knew Fudge thought he was, to put it nicely, traumatized by certain events in his life, but he didn't think he hated him.
"Very well Mr. Potter, are we quite finished, Cornelius?" Dumbledore said looking at Fudge.
"Yes, we are finished," he replied in a low voice. He walked straight at Harry and Ron, forcing them to jump out of the way, and left the office.
"What were you talking about," Harry asked as soon as Fudge was gone.
"First things first, Harry. Tell me why you came here, what has happened?"
Harry told him of their encounter with Nagini, how he was looking for a librarian, and then how he said it was him.
"Why did he say that?" Harry asked, looking directly into Dumbledore's eyes.
"Harry, I don't have all the answers. I know more now than I did before, and some people would rather I kept this information to myself. But I think this is not the time for these games, and so I will tell you what I know."
"On September 1st, when Professor McGonagall and myself did not come into the great hall right away, it was because we found one of the Zlam outside the school. He was near the lake, crawling towards it, but never made it and passed out when he was almost there. I found him when I came across with the first years, and brought him inside with us. When we came to Professor McGonagall, I told her to send the first years in without us, and we took him to the hospital wing."
"Corfay," Harry said.
"Yes. He was looking much as you did after I found you passed out in your common room. He didn't wake up until some days later, but he wouldn't give us any information on what he had done. I sent a letter to the Ministry of Magic, asking them to send anything to me that could help us figure out what he did. At first, Cornelius Fudge was reluctant to share anything, claiming it was confidential, but others within the ministry put pressure on him, so he came here tonight with answers."
"So then what did Corfay do to me?"
"As far as we know, he gave you knowledge, of many different kinds of magic that you have never been exposed to. That's why you are able to perform the spells in your classes without being told how."
"Why does it hurt then?"
"The Zlam are able to pass everything they have learned onto their young so when they die, their knowledge remains. When they do this, the young ones are filled with the information immediately, and can perform spells and make potions like they had done it all their lives. It was never meant to be given, to someone not of their species. That is why it's affecting you differently. It's not coming naturally, you have to force the information to come, and it's painful."
"Um, why did he do this? He said Voldemort was after him…" Harry trailed off.
"We don't know all of the magic that the Zlam can do. Voldemort somehow found out they could do something that would be to his advantage, and wanted to use it."
"Can't he just get it from one of the other Zlam? Not that I want him to, but why just Corfay?"
"Corfay was the keeper of their knowledge, a librarian, so to speak. Voldemort must have sent Nagini here to spy, knowing he could not get in himself unnoticed. Snakes are the natural predators for the Zl
am. That is another reason the Ministry wanted them away from us, they would draw snakes of all kinds, including basilisks, to wherever they resided."
"Then, when Corfay gave the knowledge to me…he was doing it so Voldemort wouldn't be after him anymore?"
"Cowardly of him, but yes. He knew Voldemort was after you and that you were constantly under guard. I'm assuming that's the only excuse he could make to rid himself of any guilt, knowing that there were so many people protecting you, you'd be safer with the information Voldemort is after than he would be."
"Is there a way for Harry to give it back?" Ron spoke up finally.
"We don't know, Mr. Weasley," Dumbledore said looking very grim. Harry thought there was something still that he was not telling them, but he decided to let it go for now. He decided it was time he paid a visit to Corfay.
When Harry and Ron got back to the common room, they found a lot of people there waiting for them. They had completely forgotten about the quidditch tryouts! Harry went through the list of people who they chose, and stayed downstairs for a short while to celebrate with everyone else, but as soon as he could, he got upstairs to the dorm.
He grabbed his invisibility cloak out of his trunk, and grabbed the Marauder's Map as well. He turned around and saw Hermione standing in the doorway.
"What are you doing?" she said looking suspiciously at what he was holding. "Why did it take you and Ron so long to get back tonight?"
"Hermione it's not what you," he started, then changed his mind. "I'm going to speak with Corfay. There's something I have to ask him."
"Harry…" Hermione began.
"Don't try and stop me, you don't understand. Dumbledore told us some things tonight but he didn't know all the answers. I'm positive Corfay does, and I have to ask him now."
"When did this happen?" Hermione asked. She wasn't going to give up, so Harry explained what had happened since the run in with Nagini.
"So you see why I have to go? I need to know what Voldemort is after, and if I even have it."
"I'm coming with you."
"No, you can't…"
"Yes I can, and I will. That cloak is still big enough to fit two of us under it, and we're both small."
"Hey, I'm not small," Harry said giving her a pained look. She ignored him and walked over, taking part of the cloak in her hands.
"Are we going, then?" she asked. He looked into her eyes for a few moments, torn between wanting her to come, and not wanting her near Corfay, then nodded.
They went downstairs with the cloak in Harry's pocket and the map in Hermione's. Ron was over in a corner talking with some of the new quidditch team members, so they moved over to the portrait hole, and stepped through. When the portrait was shut, they slipped the cloak over themselves and set off down the corridor.
They reached the hospital wing easily and slipped inside. Harry followed the map, past Madam Pomfrey's office and into the very back where he had never been before. They found Corfay, lying on a bed, staring at the ceiling. They pulled off the cloak and stepped up beside him.
"Corfay?" Harry said in a low voice. "Can you hear me? I need to speak with you."
Corfay turned his head ever so slightly and looked at Harry.
"Harry Potter!" he said sounding frightened. His voice was so low they could hardly hear him.
"Corfay, I know that you gave me your…knowledge," Harry said rushing forward. "I need to know what Voldemort is after. How can I find out what it is?"
"No…musn't speak of it…musn't, musn't…" Corfay mumbled.
"Corfay, you have to tell me. If you gave me something that he wants then I need to know what it is. It's the only chance I'll have of stopping him!"
"Maybe we should just give it back to him, let him deal with it," Hermione said from behind Harry. Corfay's eyes widened with fright.
"No please! I can't, he will kill me!"
"And you don't think he'll kill me? He's been trying to do it since I was born, why should anything be different now?" Harry asked angrily.
"He needs a spell…he needs to be able to…to…" Corfay began.
"To what?" Harry asked.
"To extract blood from within him. Blood that is not his own. It is very ancient magic, and it can't be done by him. It is a spell that requires much energy and power and since he is the one from whom the blood is being taken, he can't be the one to do the spell."
"Corfay, if you're so afraid of him, why didn't you just do the spell, why did you run when you knew it would make him angrier?"
"Because if I performed the spell, I would've been killed and I was the only one with the knowledge to do it. So I told him I agreed, and I ran."
"He told you he was going to kill you? Good way to recruit help."
"No, he wouldn't have killed me. I told you, it requires much power and energy, more than I am capable of withstanding. The strain would have killed me, but he didn't care, as long as he lived."
"You mean, if you do the spell, you die?" Harry asked, all the color draining from his face. No wonder Nagini was pleased.
"Harry," Hermione said, "you have to give it back to him, do you know how?"
"No!" Corfay said fiercely
"Why not? I don't want to die either!"
"You don't know how yet…"
"Well I'll give it to your friends then, they seemed to want it. I'm sure they'll tell me how to," Harry said thinking of the three Zlam he saw in Diagon Alley.
"You can't. A Zlam can only accept it if they are chosen to be knowledge keeper, there are tests they must go through to become one, and at this time I am the only one." Corfay said, seeming to smile."
"Then how were you able to give it to me? I didn't go through any tests…"
"You are not a Zlam."
Harry and Hermione just looked at him hatefully, but they couldn't see a way around this. Just then, Madam Pomfrey came into the room, carrying a potion. Harry and Hermione grabbed for the cloak, but they were too late, she had seen them.
They were in for another shock, however, when she walked right past them and went over to Corfay; she gave them a glance and looked down again. Harry and Hermione were confused, but they didn't want to get in trouble, so they didn't ask. They watched as she lifted Corfay's head, as he could barely do it himself, and let him sip the potion.
"What are you two doing here?" she asked finally.
"We just came to see him, had a question to ask, but we'll go now…" Hermione trailed off. Harry looked at her and saw she seemed to be horrified. He looked at Corfay and took a step back.
His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and his eyes were bulging. For a few horrible moments they stood and watched, unable to do anything, until he stopped moving, completely.
"What…what, did you do?" Harry asked looking at Madam Pomfrey. She was looking at Corfay and smiling, then she turned her head towards them. Her eyes were black.
"Now you are all that's left," she said smiling wickedly at Harry. Then before either of them could move, she disappeared.