"Crap," Harry muttered to himself in frustration. He had made his way to the library easily enough dodging past the few teachers that were on patrol. But once he got there it had been futile. He just didn't know where to start. He had spent a couple of hours sitting at one of the desks navel gazing (which was more like chair gazing considering he was invisible and looking straight through himself) but not coming up with any brilliant ideas.
He was positive that Dumbledore wouldn't let him leave to go to the tryouts and he needed a backup plan but what? How was he going to make his way out of the castle undetected?
Then it hit him, this was a castle, castles had secret passages didn't they? Surely this one would be no different and even if the teachers knew about the passages with his cloak he'd be able to sneak into one to get out of the castle and if there were enchantments he'd be able to see them.
He jumped up and rushed (quietly) over to the history section, a quick flick through the index cards pointed him in the right direction, he wandered down the aisle, slowing when he approached the section and started letting his fingers do the wandering along the spines of the books.
Five minutes later had him back at the desk with a positively ancient series of books, which upon closer inspection were more like files as all the pages came out and unfolded, several of these were unfolded in front of Harry who was pouring over them in wonder and bemusement that they would allow students access to the original blueprints of Hogwarts.
The secret passageways that he was looking for weren't marked on the prints, but he'd never been expecting that, what he had been expecting were clues and he wasn't disappointed.
He'd done some reading on architecture and design as a part of doing some home repairs around the Dursleys' after one or more of Dudley's tantrums had caused holes in the walls and other damage.
There is rarely unused space in buildings, walls are the thickness they need to be and that's all, there are no square walls or walls a meter and a half thick. If there are there's something that hasn't been mentioned (or the architect was the worst Harry had ever heard of). Hogwarts had plenty of these anomalies.
Several Harry recognized as "secret" passageways that he and the other students used to get to class's, all common knowledge now, a few others seemed to connect very random areas of the castle which Harry resolved to check out another time. But there were several that didn't appear to have any connections and these were the ones that Harry was interested in.
Grabbing a pen, ink and some parchment he made some notes about his discoveries and started to draw a little map putting the secret passageways in where he thought they'd be, however to his surprise he couldn't.
No matter how hard he tried he couldn't draw in lines indicating what he was positive was there. The pen would jump around on the parchment doodling smiley faces, flowers and even what he thought was Mt. Fuji in Japan.
He looked at the pen and parchment, no magic traces, nothing on the ink or maps either. He tried drawing again, there! Every time that he put his quill to the parchment there was a little spark of magic redirecting the pen, it seemed to be coming from the castle.
Harry thought for a bit, there must be some enchantment on the passageways which prevents them being located directly on a map, that was some impressive magic for sure, however for his purposes he didn't actually need to draw the passages. He copied the blueprints directly then folded them back up and put everything away. He then left the library for the second floor to where he thought there was a staircase just over the entrance hall.
Harry almost yelled in frustration, all of his assumptions had been correct (aside from one where he thought there was a stair case but it actually turned out to be a cleaning cupboard, completely devoid of teenagers, which Harry was surprised at) but none of the passages had led out of the castle grounds.
The had led out of the castle sure, the time was now approaching 4:00am and Harry had been to the quidditch locker rooms (this one he took note of as it was far quicker than walking down the grounds), Hagrid's hut, the greenhouses, just inside the front gate and back to the greenhouses again.
He was on the fourth floor now going for the last one that he had made a note of, there were others but he'd wanted to get searching rather than find every single passage on the prints.
After standing still for a minute or so whilst professor Flitwick went past with the Bloody Baron, Harry continued down the corridor that he was on, after checking his "map" again he stopped in front of a large mirror, looking at himself, or rather where he should be, he noted how eerie it was that he couldn't see himself. As in nothing, no faint traces of magic swirling around him, nothing, it was as though the cloak wiped his existence from the face of the earth.
He walked around both sides of the mirror inspecting it, poking and prodding. That was the other frustrating thing, the passages were rarely obvious there was normally something that had to be poked in order to get through which had already made his search far longer than he thought it would be.
After a couple of minutes with no success he checked both ends of the corridor for teachers and ghosts and lowered his hood. He figured that since this was a mirror maybe it had to see you, whilst staring at his disembodied head a gust of wind blew down the corridor ruffling his hair and to Harry's surprise causing ripples on the surface of the mirror, walking forward he put his hand up to touch it.
The surface felt like pleasantly cool water and his hand passed right through, pushing forward he stepped over the frame and through what was previously a solid pane of glass to find himself in a stone corridor.
"You have got to be kidding me!" The whole thing was caved in, there was a pile of stone and rocks sealing off all but about ten meters of the passage. Feeling like this really wasn't his night Harry pulled his wand out and started moving stuff.
After a good hour of lifting, moving and general repair work he had carved a small hole through the cave in, he'd reinforced it as best he could and he was hoping beyond hope that this one actually led out of this bloody castle.
After crawling through the hole, he started walking there was nothing to see, the passage appeared to go down which was encouraging but it was entirely stone and went on as far as he could see by the light of his wand.
By the time he'd been walking for twenty minutes he was sure that he was onto a winner, none of the others had been this long and he pressed on with a renewed sense of vigor.
Finally after another ten or fifteen minutes this time walking upwards he came to a trapdoor, listening carefully for anyone or anything outside he pressed it open and came out in the middle of a train platform.
Being the wee hours of the morning the entire landscape was bathed in a beautiful orange pink glow, he looked around recognizing the place, he was after all here last only about three months ago, it was the Hogsmeade train station. This was perfect, from here he was sure that he could get Jamie or Rich to pick him up or send someone else to.
Elated, despite his lack of sleep, Harry positively jogged back down the passage, intent on only one thing, bed. His plan was a success, he could get out of the castle, giggling slightly to himself the whole way he scurried back to his dorm and tucked himself into bed for a good half hours sleep before class.
The following night found Harry back in the library. The day had been positively torturous with his lack of sleep from the night before, he had caught a few hours early in the evening by skipping dinner and then had gotten up again for further research.
He figured that getting out of the castle was great but upon reflection it would be better if he didn't have to rely on someone from the squad to pick him up. So he was looking for means of magical transportation, he assumed that there were some but just wasn't sure on the details.
He was right, there was an entire shelf dedicated to the topic, most of it rehashed the same information however it was readily apparent that witches and wizards alike were fond of getting places fast.
The topics that kept getting mentioned were broomstick travel; he figured he'd be doing enough flying for the day. Floo travel which sounded very odd, apparently you tossed some powder onto a fire gave the name of a destination and it rushed you through the chimney and shot you out at the other fireplace, this did actually sound promising however he wasn't sure that he'd be able to access a fireplace in Hogsmeade or that there'd be one at the venue.
Portkeys too sounded interesting, they were a lower level enchanted item which when touched, at a certain time or at a password; would transport the user through the ether to a predetermined destination. They were however extremely complicated magic and there were even cautions in the books indicating that there was no way to tell before using them whether they would function correctly. Best case scenario for a failure would be the device immediately returning the user back to the original location upon touching it again (like a spring bouncing back) worst case would be the user being stuck in the ether until pulled back by an experienced mage. Apparently once someone had created one correctly once it was easy enough however it certainly was something for which a tutor was needed and shouldn't be learnt from a book.
There were also some obscure references to something called fire travel in which a phoenix would carry a person to a destination almost instantaneously (Harry wasn't sure if this was fact or fiction) and magic carpet travel which sounded a little too "Aladin-y" for his tastes and besides had been illegal for half a century.
The one method which had sparked his interest was apparition. Or dissapparition it was kind of odd how the books used the words, they were almost interchangeable but not quite. Harry assumed one meant disappearing and the other appearing but there were references to apperating away from somewhere but nothing about dissapparating to somewhere, still, a rose by any other name and all that.
Anyway, it was an entirely wandless discipline which could apparently only be done by those over the age of seventeen, well that was the legal requirement. The process basically involved vanishing yourself and then re-conjuring yourself in another location. It had to be either somewhere you'd been before, somewhere you had an image in your head of, from a picture or something, or had the coordinates of.
Harry had been experimenting with vanishing and conjuring wandlessly for years so it wasn't exactly new to him, applying the method to himself however, was a new theory though.
"Hmm, that's interesting," Harry muttered to himself examining his left arm, his disembodied left arm that is. He'd found the process of apparition was quite simple for him however he was having issues getting his entire body to leave and appear in the same space and had kept dropping body parts all over his test location which of course was the Hogsmeade train station once again in the wee hours of the morning.
Despite sounding like it, with the body parts dropping off and all, the station didn't look like a serial murderers basement as all the limbs and appendages were sealed perfectly with skin and there was in-fact no blood at all, or pain for that matter which was a nice change for Harry.
He had read this was often a problem and knew the countermeasure for it was to stand right next to the body part and apparate yourself and it on the spot. Well, he'd deduced this, the book actually said that the trainer is to vanish and conjure both the body part and the person back together however since that's what apparating was he figured that he could just do that. This was perhaps a risky move to try on your own but it worked, Harry sometimes had very little self preservation.
The loss of body parts (or splinching as the book called it) was however quite annoying as he'd been trying for a while now and had only managed to get it correctly a couple of times. What had garnered his attention this time was that he'd noticed that he could still move the fingers on the arm that had come off, and his elbow and hand for that matter.
Intrigued he moved it a few meters away and tried again, the limb still moved he could also feel the pavement against the arm. Deciding to experiment further with this later he picked up the arm again and quickly popped himself out and back into existence. Checked that he'd put the arm on the correct way and made to try again.
Thinking carefully about what he'd done when he'd actually gotten it to work, he imagined the spot where he wanted to go, it was behind him as the book had said trying to go somewhere that you could see was a crutch, he imagined himself disappearing and reappearing in that spot, he released his tendrils of magic to completely surround him and finally this time unlike most of the others just before giving the final push quickly ran the image of his whole body disappearing and reappearing perfectly through his mind and then CRACK!
He was down the other end of the platform. Elated he checked himself for missing body parts and after finding none turned his back on the other end of the platform and tried again.
Another two hours later Harry was feeling exhausted, he'd drilled himself over and over again until he could appear on a knut on the ground within a half a second. Popping back and forth along the platform was tiring but extremely fun, he'd noticed that the more he practiced the less magic he needed and the less of a noise he made. He assumed the noise was the sound of the excess magic disappearing as it was no longer connected to his body and had to release its energy in some way.
He assumed that if you could get the amount of magic being used exactly right you could actually appear silently, he was getting close already. After going up and down the platform a hundred times or so he decided to try something a little more difficult.
He firmly pictured Diagon Alley in his mind and popped right in front of the bookstore, checking around to make sure no one noticed he popped back to the train station, he then went to the Dursleys' front door and left again, not before in a fit of childishness ringing the bell as loudly as he could until he heard the sound of his uncle barreling down the stairs. Still giggling he popped into his old primary school classroom, then over to the park and back to the station again.
Figuring that he'd need to go to the tryouts on Saturday and he had no idea where they were, he attempted to go somewhere he'd never been, but knew about, picturing the cliffs of Dover in his head, the picture from a book that he'd read, he could feel it take slightly longer this time as his magic seemed to match the picture in his head to the location before dumping him unceremoniously right on the edge of the cliff, thankfully the howling wind was blowing inland and when he fell over it was in the right directly with only his legs dangling over the edge.
Taking a big breath to stead himself which was difficult because of his shivering he took himself back to the station again.
Harry awoke on Friday morning in a very good mood, he'd gotten a decent night's sleep for the first time in three days, as he'd spent the previous night practicing apperating again. He'd received a letter from Rich yesterday indicating that the tryouts would be held this Saturday (which he already knew) at 4:30 AM (which would be handy for getting out of the castle) at the national quidditch stadium in Bath.
He was due to have his meeting with the Headmaster today to attempt to get permission to go before he resorted to his backup plan, he wasn't hopeful but he figured it was worth trying as it would be far less effort if he could avoid having to sneak out.
He'd penned a short note requesting a meeting with Dumbledore which he'd handed to Professor Sprout in Herbology, she'd assured him that she'd give it to the Headmaster and indeed shortly after lunch he'd received a reply via a school owl indicating that Dumbledore would be delighted to speak with him and confirming Harry's suspicions about the origins of his invisibility cloak, after comparing the handwriting.
Following the directions that Sprout had given him Harry made his way through the castle before coming to a stop in front of a huge stone gargoyle. Looking up at the beast Harry spoke the password that he'd been given, "sugar quill."
The gargoyle sprang to life as though the sun had just gone down and Harry stepped past it and onto a rotating spiral staircase. Interested he examined the patterns of the magic behind it as he didn't think that a staircase that simply rotated would lift him up like this one was. It appeared that it was rotating on the walls not the centre which was causing it to move through the castle like a screw through wood, there was some form of constant vanishing enchantment on the top of the staircase which caused it to reappear at the bottom and start the cycle again – all very neat.
Stepping of at the platform at the top and suddenly feeling a little bit nervous Harry knocked on the door to the headmaster's office. Upon hearing a "come in," he entered.
The office was magnificent, it encapsulated the entire tower with a view out the window over the lake and the grounds. There were bookshelves all around the room holding both books and little gadgets and devices which were slowly ticking and whirring, a large stone staircase hugged the wall leading up to a door which Harry assumed was Dumbledore's quarters and behind a desk that looked like it was older than him sat the headmaster looking serenely at Harry.
"Good afternoon Headmaster." Harry offered politely.
"Good afternoon indeed, it's always pleasant to receive a visit from one of my students. Would you like a sherbet lemon?" Harry raised his hand and shook his head politely declining the sweet, "how can I help you today then?"
Deciding to get straight down to business, they could chit chat later, Harry said, "I'm not sure if you're aware sir," Harry was in fact positive that Dumbledore was aware, "but a couple of weeks ago after the quidittch match I was approached by Jamie Derich and Richard Jilks who represent the English national squad.
They've asked me to come and tryout for the national team, I'm sorry about the late notice but I was only given the date and time today." This was of course untrue – the time yes but Harry had known about the date for weeks.
Dumbledore seemed to study him intensely harry noticed a very fine wisp of magic escape his eyes and travel towards harry he could tell just by looking this wasn't searching for any more information other than a lie or lack thereof, Harry having had little trouble lying to anyone since he was five had no trouble fooling it.
Sighing gently Dumbledore said "I'm sorry Mr. Potter, Harry, may I call you Harry?" Harry wordlessly acquiesced, "with what's going on at the moment I can't allow a student to go anywhere unsupervised. I know what you've been offered is a tremendous honour but I'm sure it will be offered again."
Harry had of course been expecting this exact response however thought that it would be a bit obvious that he was going to try something if he didn't put up any fight so he decided to whine a little.
"But sir, isn't the danger in the school?"
"You're a smart boy Harry, I'm sure you've figured out as well as I have that there must be outside influences," He extended the last word slightly as though giving a clue.
Harry hadn't actually put that much thought into the attacks no one seemed overly hurt and quite frankly at the moment he had more important things to deal with. Still he was never one to pass up free information.
"But why would they try and hurt me sir?"
"The attacks Harry may be a ruse to get you to leave the school for 'safety' reasons, you don't think it's odd that after over a decade of peace and relative quiet at Hogwarts that something happens as soon as you start school?"
"You think it might be the wizard who murdered my parents?"
"Voldemort Harry, call things by their proper name."
"I didn't know it sir, I couldn't get anyone to tell me, why is that?"
"People are still scared, there is a general feeling that speaking his name aloud is prompting fate, as it were."
"Is there a reason for that sir?"
"There were," Dumbledore paused, "rumors, during his rise to power that he had created a taboo over his name such that those who dared speak it would incur his wrath."
"You can do that?" Harry asked in bemusement, "Make something happen to someone anytime they just say a word?"
"You can, however it is very difficult and takes an enormous amount of power, also you can't just do it to any word, it needs to be something that is uttered infrequently as a word that is spoken often takes far too much power to tame it, so to speak.
Also the harsher the consequences of speaking the word as well as the area that the taboo encompasses increases the level of power required. Does that make sense?"
"Yes sir, I'm noticing there is a bit of a pattern to all this magic," he said with a small grin, "did Voldemort make the taboo?"
Dumbledore chuckled at the comment then sobered, "That is excellent that you do see that Harry, keep looking for those patterns no matter how convoluted they may seem as noticing them and being able to apply them is truly the mark of a great wizard.
I never saw any evidence that Voldemort created the taboo as I spoke his name many times during his rise to power and nary had even a nosebleed. I believe the rumors were created in order to limit the amount that people would speak his name so that the word would be easier to tame, thanks to you he never had the time to go through with the plan."
Harry paused to think about that for a bit, he was a bit proud really that he apparently was on the way to becoming a great wizard, of course, he already thought this but it was nice to hear it confirmed.
"Well thank you for the chat sir, but I'd better go and owl Richard and Jamie, you're sure I can't go?"
"I'm afraid not my boy, but feel free to stop by any time, It's delightful to discuss magic with someone as interested as yourself.
Harry bade his goodbyes and left, pondering taboos and quidditch.
Harry awoke bright and early Saturday morning, well early it certainly wasn't bright yet as it was only three am. He collected the half dozen school brooms that he'd pilfered from the change rooms and hidden under his four poster bed.
After his performance in the last game against Gryffindor and the subsequent trainings he knew that he'd burn through at least two or three during a normal practice and when he was trying his hardest in the tryouts, well he could only hope that six would be enough.
Knowing that he always rose before his dorm mates especially on the weekends he took some parchment and a quill and penned a short note saying that he had woken early but felt terrible and went back to bed saying that he'd see them for lunch or dinner at the absolute latest.
He then took his pillow and transfigured it into a Harry shaped pillow and put it back in his bed, it was hardly the best deception but he doubted anyone would actually pull the drapes.
Donning his quidditch yellows, gathering up the broomsticks and tossing the invisibility cloak over himself he made his way through the dark castle, through the secret corridor and up to Hogsmede station,
Since he hadn't actually been given an image of the stadium or co-ordinates he had decided to head to the Leaky Cauldron which he'd discovered was open 24/7 as a free floo point and then floo to the game, this would also help avoid suspicions about his ability to apparate.
On arriving at the Cauldron he had a quick look to make sure no one saw him and walked over to the fireplace, a little nervous as he'd never done this before he took a handful of powder from the pot on the mantelpiece threw it in the fire, then acting much braver than he felt stepped into the glowing green flames and said in a firm voice, "National Quidditch stadium."
He started spinning violently whizzing past fireplaces catching miniscule glimpses of rooms and halls before being unceremoniously dumped out the grate and onto the floor of what looked like the Hufflepuff change rooms but white instead of yellow.
"Ah Harry glad you could make it."
A/N – had to cut this chapter short as I wanted to get it posted and I'm only about halfway through what I originally had planned, so I guess it'll become two chapters – Yay.
Thanks very much for everyone for bearing with me I know I'm terrible with updates. If you've enjoyed this chapter or any of the others – or have any questions, please let me know in the reviews!
Thanks for reading.