Hey readers! Long time no see, but at least I didn't make you wait half a year this time! Well, I've got another long chapter for you that spans over chapters 13, 14, and 15 of HP and the Sorcerer's Stone book. At this rate, I only have 1 chapter left and possibly an epilogue before the end of this fic and before I start planing on how I'm going to write Chamber of Secrets! So It looks like I will indeed have this fic finished before the end of 2013 and actually finish my first multi-chapter fan fic! :D That's certainly exciting, for me at any rate. Actually finishing something, even if it's just one fic in a series, I am looking forward to it. You have all been great and patient readers, so go on and enjoy Fullmetal Wizard's latest update!
WARNING: F-bomb is used twice in this chapter because of Edward's temper and potty mouth. Thought you ought to know. :P
I DO NOT OWN HARRY POTTER OR FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST!
Chapter 5: Secrets, Plots and Dragons
Once term had started back up again Edward found that he had to set aside his research for a way home once more. Much to his chagrin, Edward found himself swamped with work for his and Quirrel's classes and spent nearly all his free time in the evenings at Gryffindor Quidditch practices. Wood was working the team harder than ever even in rainy weather. Edward and most of the team were quickly loosing their patience with the ambitious team captain.
Edward's temper became even shorter after he'd gone to Rolanda Hooch at the beginning of the new term to ask her if he could stop supervising the practice sessions. No other team was required to have a teacher supervise their practices and now that Harry had been playing for a few months, Edward felt that his presence was no longer required. Hooch did not feel the same way however, the sadistic bitch. Edward would swear that the woman was secretly encouraging Wood to schedule more practices just to spite him.
So busy was he, Edward had nearly forgotten about the ever-growing problem concerning his job in keeping an eye on Harry Potter and his friends and making sure that they stayed out the trouble surrounding the philosopher's stone. Then, during one particularly wet and muddy practice session, Wood gave the team a bit of news that they did not take well. The team captain had just gotten very angry with the Weasley twins, who kept dive-bombing each other and pretending to fall off their brooms.
"Will you stop messing around!" Wood yelled. "That's exactly the sort of thing that'll lose us the match! Snape's refereeing this time, and he'll be looking for any excuse to knock points off Gryffindor!"
Edward looked up from where he'd been sulking huddled in a large rain poncho. He hadn't heard about this before now. George Weasley really did fall off his broom this time upon hearing those words.
"Snape's refereeing?" he spluttered through a mouthful of mud.
Edward would have snickered at the redhead's face if the entire team hadn't looked so miserable and equally horrified at the news.
"When's he ever refereed a Quidditch match?" George continued. "He's not going to be fair if we might overtake Slytherin in points."
The rest of the team had now landed next to George and were starting to complain too.
"It's not my fault," said Wood. "We've just got to make sure we can play a clean game, so Snape hasn't got an excuse to pick on us."
Edward noticed how wary Harry now looked. It was clear that he didn't want Snape refereeing the match more than everyone else. Then again, the boy was under the impression that Snape had tried to kill him during that first match against Slytherin.
While the rest of the team hung back to talk to one another as usual at the end of practice, Harry went over to join Edward as he started heading back up to the castle.
"Why is Snape refereeing the next game?" Harry demanded the moment he caught up with Edward.
"I don't know Harry," Edward sighed. "This is the first time I've heard about it."
"But you're a friend of his," Harry scowled.
"Friends maybe," Edward snorted, "if you can call it that. He doesn't tell me everything, Harry. He only tells me what he wants to. I assure you that I had no idea that he would be refereeing your next game. Although, now that I think about it, Madam Hooch has been feeling a bit under the weather lately. Can't say I blame her with all this bloody rain!"
"Why can't you referee then?" Harry pleaded.
"Well for one, I wasn't asked. And two, I've been busy supervising your practice sessions. If I were to referee it would look like I'm favoring you and your team – which I do favor. Snape doesn't have such complications since his house team isn't playing. Also, you couldn't pay me to get on one of those blasted brooms to referee," Edward shuddered. "Prodigy I may be when it comes to spells and potions and other such things, but a flyer I am not, Harry. I can ride a broom all right, but at times the muggle part of me simply cannot get around the fact and accept that a flimsy cleaning tool can fly, let alone carry someone. I really don't know what you're so bothered by Harry. Snape may be a mean bugger but he's not out to kill you, and even if he was, I will be there at the game keeping an eye on things."
Harry did not look convinced, but at the moment Edward just didn't care. It was late, he was wet and hungry and all he wanted now was a nice hot shower, dry clothes and a whole feast worth of food and drink. He left Harry in the castle's entryway to head up to Gryffindor Tower while he headed to the Staff's bathroom for that shower. The house elves were used to this sort of thing by now and had a already set out a clean set of clothes and had taken away the wet ones for Edward by the time he was finished. Edward sighed with contentment as he headed down to his office for a cup of tea before going to the Great Hall for dinner. He had just sat down behind his desk in his office with a fresh cup of earl grey when the door burst open to allow Harry, Ron and Hermione to tumble in.
"Harry, I told you," Edward sighed, setting his tea down. "I can't ref-!"
"We know about Nicolas Flamel!" they cried, standing before his desk.
Edward froze and stared long and hard at them for a moment before shutting the door again and locked it with a wave of his wand and cast a silencing charm about the room just in case.
"What now?" he asked in a low serious voice.
None of them answered him. Instead, Harry slapped down a Wizard's chocolate frog trading card onto his desk. Dumbledore's card. Edward frowned and picked it up to examine it.
"A trading card?" he asked skeptically.
"Read the back," Harry pressed.
"Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood, and his…" Edward trailed off, not quite able to believe what he was seeing.
"…And his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel," Hermione finished for him looking far too smug for his liking.
"…So?" Edward asked, keeping his face blank of emotion while on the inside he was raging with anger. A trading card… A fucking trading card of all things is what gives it all away.
"That's not all we found though," Hermione grinned. "Once we found out that Flamel was linked with Alchemy, I asked one of your students to lend me their Alchemy textbook – I'm not saying who though. I didn't find much about Flamel in it other than the fact that he was considered the world's foremost expert on modern alchemy before he started working with Dumbledore and Dr. Van Licht. But then I remembered a book that I'd checked out weeks ago for a bit of light reading," she said as she pulled out a huge text and set it down on Edward's desk with a heavy thump!
Ron snorted at what Hermione considered light reading, but Edward only frowned.
"This is a text I found because I had already finished going over your class's textbook, Edward and I wanted to know more about Alchemy," Hermione informed him. "It's utter rubbish compared to Dr. Licht's work, but it did have the one thing we were looking for."
Edward ground his teeth in frustration as he watched her flip through the large text to a specific page.
"It says here that Nicolas Flamel is the only known maker of the Philosopher's Stone!" she breathed excitedly. "The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal. There have been many reports of the Philosopher's Stone over the centuries, but the only Stone currently in existence belongs to Mr. Nicolas Flamel, who celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year."
"It's no wonder we couldn't find Flamel in the Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry," Ron mused. "He's not exactly recent if he's six hundred and sixty-five, is he?"
"No, he isn't," Edward shook his head, gathering his thoughts and holding back his frustration.
"Fluffy is guarding Flamel's Philosopher's Stone isn't he, Edward?" Harry asked. "We think Flamel asked Dumbledore to keep it safe for him, because they're friends and he knew someone was after it. That's why he wanted the Stone moved out of Gringotts! It's a stone that makes gold and stops you from ever dying! It's no wonder Snape's after it! Anyone would want it."
"Well when it is presented like that, no," Edward scowled. "But any Alchemist worth their salt can transmute anything into gold and as for never dying… No one in their right mind would want that stone."
"So we're right?" Ron grinned.
Edward glared and leaned over his desk so that he was nearly in their faces.
"Now you three listen to me," he said in a low voice, just barely holding back his anger. "You are to leave this alone. The Philosopher's Stone is a dangerous artifact. It will only bring about trouble and isn't worth risking your lives over."
"But Ed-!" Harry tried to protest, but Edward wasn't having it.
"But nothing Potter," Edward growled. "There is a reason why it's the only stone of it's kind left and why no one else has made another. Hundreds of lives have been ruined and thousands more have been lost over that stone, and I won't have you three adding yours to the tally. I'd focus more on your studies and on that Quidditch game of yours Harry. Leave the protection of that stone to me, Professor Dumbledore and the rest of the Hogwarts staff. It is not your problem, nor your burden to bare."
"Harry! Please," Edward practically begged, gripping the boy by his shoulders. "Please, for your own sakes let this go."
Harry looked like he wanted to protest, but Edward shook him a little.
"Please Harry! All three of you please listen! Those who get themselves involved in anything concerning the Philosopher's Stone never meet a happy end," Edward pleaded. "Don't get involved any further than you already are. I… I couldn't bare it if I lost any more friends because of this thing. It's evil and nothing good will come of it."
Harry, Ron and Hermione stared at him for a moment as Edward let Harry go and went over to stand in front of his brother's portrait.
"Brother…" Al murmured looking sadly down at Edward.
"…All right, Edward," Hermione said softly. "We won't look into it anymore."
Edward looked up and narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
"Yeah… We promise Edward," Ron nodded after a nudge from Hermione.
Edward nodded and looked at Harry, waiting for his answer.
"…Promise," Harry agreed with a sigh. "But you have to keep an eye on Snape."
Edward held back a snort.
"You have my word," Edward nodded. "Now enough talk about this. Lets head up for dinner. I'm starved and I'm sure we can all do with a nice meal."
The three children nodded their heads and together they left for the Great Hall.
Later that evening Edward sat in his office again only this time he was in the company of Severus Snape.
"So they know about the Stone?" Snape scowled.
"All because of a fucking trading card!" Edward snapped, throwing the card over to the Potion's Master with a sharp flick of his wrist. "Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog trading card!"
"Language, Edward," Snape scolded mildly as he glared at the damning back of the card.
"We're alone," Edward huffed. "I even put a silencing charm on the door!"
Snape only quirked an eyebrow at that.
"They think you're the one trying to steal the stone," Edward grumbled.
"Oh?" Snape inquired, looking amused for the first time during the conversation. "And what did you say to that."
"Nothing," Edward grumbled.
"You didn't even try to set the record straight?" Snape scoffed.
"No," Edward smirked a little. "They're stubborn and nothing I said before in the past could sway them so I thought the effort moot."
"I suppose it could only work to our advantage," Snape mused. "It they think I'm the one after the stone then they'll try to stick close to me."
"And not go after Quirrel," Edward nodded in agreement. "I thought so as well."
"You're getting awfully close to those three," Snape frowned.
"They're not that hard to like," Edward smiled. "Unless of course you have a beef with one of their parents apparently."
Snape glared, but Edward only smiled back and reclined in his seat. His expression mellowed quickly though. "We'll have to keep a closer eye on them from now on."
"You work on that," Snape stated. "They trust you and are more likely to confide in you than in anyone else. I'll do as I have been and keep an eye Quirrel."
"Don't push him," Edward warned. "That man has been getting quite jittery lately."
"Which is why I had Dumbledore convince Rolanda Hooch to let me referee tomorrow's match," Snape frowned. "I won't risk letting that man go after Potter again."
"You're a hard man to figure out, Severus," Edward sighed. "You despise the boy more than any other, and yet you go to great lengths to ensure his safety. Sure, you'd rather have him be miserable, but only so long as he's safe."
Snape glared at him before letting out a sigh of his own.
"…He has Lilly's eyes, Edward."
It was all he said and it was as if that was all that needed to be said about the matter, as if it that simple statement explained everything… And it did. Edward didn't press Snape further, choosing instead to take a sip out of his cup of tea and stare at the portrait of his brother.
The next day after all morning classes, Edward headed out with the rest of the school to the Quidditch pitch for Gryffindor's game against Hufflepuff. On his way over to the field though, Edward witnessed Snape with Quirrel in a shadowed corner having a heated discussion – on Snape's part anyway. Quirrel cowered, nodding furiously before taking off. Snape glared after the man before storming over to the Quidditch pitch himself. Edward considered going after Snape to have a word with the man, but though better of it when he spied Ron and Hermione outside the Gryffindor team's locker room saying goodbye to Harry. Edward noticed that both first years had their wands on them as they headed up to the stands. Forgoing the Staff Box, Edward moved to join the two Gryffindors in the main stands.
"Now, don't forget, it's Locomotor Mortis," Hermione muttered as Ron slipped his wand up his sleeve.
"I know," Ron snapped. "Don't nag."
"Now why would he need to remember the Leg-Locker Curse?" Edward mused aloud as he came up behind the two.
Both of them jumped and turned to look sheepishly at him as he came to claim a seat next to Hermione.
"Ah… We… uh…" Hermione stammered.
"Look! Dumbledore's here!" Ron cried.
"Really?!" Hermione squeaked, looking up at the Staff Box and, sure enough, Dumbledore was sitting in the front row next to the announcer's stand beside McGonagall.
"Why wouldn't he be?" Edward mused with a wry smile. "I asked him to come."
Ron and Hermione stared at him in surprise.
"I thought it would help you and Harry feel a lot better about the game if he attended. No one would dare try anything if he were here to watch the game," Edward smirked.
The two beamed at him before turning their attention to the game.
"Whoa," Ron gaped when Snape stormed out onto the field. Edward winced, wondering what Quirrel could have possible done this time to piss Snape off so badly.
"I've never seen Snape look so mean," Ron told Hermione. "Look – they're off. Ouch!"
Edward looked around behind Hermione and spotted Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle. From the looks of things, Malfoy had poked Ron in the back of the head.
"Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you there," Malfoy drawled before grinning broadly at his friends. "Wonder how long Potter's going to stay on his broom this time? Anyone want a bet? What about you, Weasley?"
Ron didn't answer. Both he and Hermione were focused entirely on the game. Snape had just awarded Hufflepuff a penalty because George Weasley had hit a Bludger at him. Hermione, who had all her fingers crossed in her lap, was squinting fixedly at Harry, who was circling the game like a hawk, looking for the Snitch.
"You know how I think they choose people for the Gryffindor team?" said Malfoy loudly a few minutes later, as Snape awarded Hufflepuff another penalty for no reason at all. "It's people they feel sorry for. See, there's Potter, who's got no parents, then there's the Weasley's who've got no money – you should be on the team, Longbottom, you've got no brains."
Neville – who was seated next to Ron – went bright red but turned in his seat to face Malfoy.
"I'm worth twelve of you, Malfoy," he stammered.
Edward blinked at the shy boy in surprise while Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle howled with laughter, but Ron, still not daring to take his eyes from the game, said, "You tell him, Neville."
"Longbottom, if brains were gold you'd be poorer than Weasley, and that's saying something."
Edward was about to rise out of his seat and make his presence known when Ron growled, "I'm warning you, Malfoy – one more word-!"
"Ron!" Hermione said suddenly, "Harry-!"
Both Ron and Edward returned their attention to the game as Harry suddenly went into a spectacular dive, which drew gasps and cheers from the crowd. Hermione stood up, her crossed fingers in her mouth, as Harry streaked toward the ground like a bullet.
"You're in luck, Weasley. Potter's obviously spotted some money on the ground!" said Malfoy.
Ron snapped. Before Edward could stop him, and before Malfoy knew what was happening, Ron was on top of the blond brat, wrestling him to the ground. Neville had hesitated at first, but was beginning to scramble over his seat to help. Edward did manage to stop him in time though, shoving him back into his seat as he maneuvered around Hermione's.
"Come on, Harry!" Hermione screamed, leaping onto her seat to watch as Harry sped straight at Snape – not even noticing Malfoy and Ron rolling around under her seat.
"All right, enough!" Edward snarled, clapping his hands together and transmuted the row of seats, having them pull Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Ron apart and restrained them to the newly formed seats, but not before Ron got one final punch in that looked like it might leave Malfoy's with a black eye.
Edward turned around just in time to see Harry shoot past Snape, missing him by inches. A second later Harry pulled out of his dive, his arm raised in triumph, the Snitch clasped in his hand.
The stands erupted; it had to be a record. The game had barely lasted five minutes!
"Ron! Edward! The game is over! Harry's won! We've won! Gryffindor is in the lead!" shrieked Hermione, dancing up and down on her seat before turning around to hug Edward.
"Yes, yes, so he has," Edward grinned before turning on the four restrained students in their seats. He clapped his hands and transmutated the seating section back to its original state, setting its captives free. Malfoy glared, rubbing his wrists.
"Alright, off with you," Edward shooed the Slytherins. "In light of the circumstances I'll let you brats off with only a warning."
Malfoy scowled, turning away to storm off but before he could get too far, Edward couldn't resist one last parting shot.
"And Mr. Malfoy? You might want to put some ice on that eye of yours."
The blond grumbled something before stomping out of the stands and skulked back to the castle. Ron smiled sheepishly at Edward, only to beam when Edward told him, "Nice punch. He'll be wearing that shiner for a while. Now lets go congratulate Harry."
Edward was relaxing in his office that night, thumbing through his Alchemy class's textbook so that he could be better prepared for his next lesson when Snape stormed in through the door the same foul mood he'd been in all day.
"By all means, please don't hesitate to come in," Edward sighed, feeling slightly irritated. Snape was really getting on his nerves with his ever-oppressive dark mood. "Let me guess… Quirrel again?"
Snape only scowled as he sank into his usual chair by the office's fireplace.
"What's he done this time? I've never seen you in such a bad mood," Edward asked, shutting his book and sitting up straighter in his seat.
"Nothing," Snape growled. "Yet."
"Perhaps you're scaring him off," Edward chuckled. "You're scaring quite a few people these days. Except Potter that is. He nearly ran into you when he went into that dive. Your face was priceless by the way when he zoomed past you."
"Apparently you don't fear me either," Snape glared.
"I'm just used to interacting with people like you," Edward grinned. "I think you and my Alchemy teacher would get along great. You both like to torment your students."
Snape scowled, but at least he wasn't glaring and that was an improvement in Edward's book.
"So did you manage to finish the discussion you had before the game with Quirrel?" Edward asked.
"You saw that?" Snape frowned.
"Only the end where he took off running like a mouse escaping the jaws of a vicious cat," Edward smirked.
The corners of Snape's lips twitched a little at that.
"I met with him in the forbidden forest after the match," Snape admitted. "I tried to find out if he'd figured out how to get past the Cerberus. He played ignorant and innocent, but I could tell he doesn't. Not yet at any rate."
"Well that's good," Edward sighed. "It means that it's still only Dumbledore and Hagrid who know how to get past that brute. Whenever I went down there, I had to let one of them know and they would get there before I did so the dog was always asleep."
"Indeed," Snape scowled. "Dumbledore is keeping this very close."
"The fewer people who know the better," Edward sighed.
"Perhaps," Snape nodded. "But that doesn't stop me from worrying. Hagrid let Flamel's name slip to Potter after all, and look how far he and his friends have gotten."
"I'm still pissed about that," Edward growled. "A damn trading card of all things gives them the right clue."
Snape looked amused, but remained quite.
"Something is going to happen soon," he sighed.
"Yeah," Edward frowned. "I can feel it too, but what can we do?"
"We take things as they come and continue on as we have been," Snape stated as he rose from his seat. "You keep an eye on Potter, and I'll keep one on Quirrel. When whatever is coming happens, then we can act."
The next few weeks seemed to fly by. He didn't see much of Harry, Ron and Hermione, but that was because it would seem that Hermione was making the two boys study like crazy for exams that were ten weeks away. Edward managed to keep an eye on them whenever they were in the library, but when he got a letter from the Ministry informing him that during the last week of classes a Ministry Official would be sitting in on his Alchemy classes to evaluate him and see if he was a capable teacher and whether it was wise or not to allow him to continue teaching next year. This made him incredibly nervous, but Sprout, Flitwick and McGonagall were being very supportive and helped him manage his class schedule better. Even Snape was showing support in his own gruff and unique way and Dumbledore reviewed his class curriculum to make sure that it was up to Ministry standards.
Edward really started to load homework onto his students then to make sure that they would be well prepared for their finals, but he wasn't the only one. It appeared that all the other teachers were starting to increase the workload for their classes as well. Of course, more school work for the students meant more work for the teacher when it came to grading it all, so Edward found himself locked away in his office during most of his free time and up late at odd hours whenever he wasn't patrolling the halls or supervising Quidditch practices.
He tried to remember to check up on Harry every now and again, but nearly every moment he managed to take a break it seemed the poor boy was still studying with Ron and Hermione. Edward managed to help them with their homework every now and again to clarify something for Harry and Ron whenever Hermione got too technical and wordy, but he had so much of his own work to do that this didn't happen nearly as often as he liked. Even his occasional meetings with Snape had lessened as they were both confined to their offices to handle their own work. Snape's temper didn't improve any either, because grading all these class assignments left little time for the Potions Master to shadow Quirrel.
Over the next two weeks however, Edward started to note some strange behavior and goings on. For one thing, Hagrid – who was usually such a great loud presence in the Great Hall during meals – had taken to locking himself in his hut, shutting the blinds. He also was starting to neglect his gamekeeper duties. This had Edward concerned, but Sprout assured him that Hagrid got like this whenever the man found a pet that he wanted to keep before loosing it into the Forbidden Forest. Dumbledore had apparently allowed such things to happen before, so Edward let this strangeness to go over looked.
Another strange occurrence was that Harry, Ron and Hermione were starting to act nervous and had taken to whispering even when they were in his presence. Malfoy also looked smug about something, but whatever was going on, Edward just chalked it up to childish mischief and ignored the strange behavior… until Ron showed up in his office one Thursday morning while he was between classes.
"What happened and why aren't you seeing Madam Pomfrey about this?" Edward demanded the moment Ron sat down and showed him a swollen hand.
He didn't like the look of it. It was swollen to nearly twice its usual size and the cut that was the obvious cause of the swelling was turning a nasty shade of green. If Edward didn't know any better he'd say that the cut looked like it was infected with a horrible pathogen of some kind. Ron remained silent however.
"Ron, I can't help you if I don't know what this is," Edward sighed, crouching in front of the redhead.
"You have to promise not to tell anyone," Ron blurted, looking scared. "Please Edward."
"I won't within reason," Edward frowned. "You have to tell me what caused this first."
Ron bit his lip and looked away as Edward examined the cut better. It looked like a bite…
"This wouldn't happen to have anything to do with Hagrid's new pet now would it?" Edward frowned.
Ron's eyes widened.
"You know about Norbert?"
"Norbert? Where the hell does he come up with these names?" Edward snorted. "But, yeah. Hell, the entire staff knows he's got some sort of new pet locked away in his hut. But if it bit you, he'd better get rid of it soon. If I find that it's bitten you again or someone else, I'll have to report it to Dumbledore."
"He's getting rid of it Saturday," Ron sighed.
"Well that's good," Edward nodded, "but I'm afraid that I need to take you up to the infirmary. I'm no good at this sort of thing. Cuts and bruises I can handle, gashes and blows to the head I'm not bad at treating, but this… this is beyond me, Ron."
"But what am I going to tell madam Pomfrey?" Ron whimpered.
"…We'll tell her that you got this while helping me move Quirrel's creatures around last night and that we're not sure which one got you," Edward mused. "It will also explain why you came to me first and not to her right away."
Ron nodded, looking relieved to have a plausible excuse for the strict healer.
After taking Ron up to the Hospital Wing, Edward had to hurry back down to the dungeons for Quirrel's last morning class before lunch. After that any worries that he'd had about Ron were quickly put out of his mind though as work and classes took up the rest of his time and attention. He did check on Ron before dinner though and was relieved to see that the swelling had already lessened significantly.
The next day flew by rather quickly, and Edward had never felt so grateful that Saturday had finally arrived. He slept in that morning, took a nice long relaxing bath, ate a small breakfast in his office before having a nice lunch with McGonagall, Sprout, and Flitwick in the Great Hall, and spent his afternoon in his office giving his automail limbs a much needed maintenance check and tune up. When he left to have dinner, he ran into McGonagall again and she asked him if he could go on night patrol that night. Edward agreed easily, feeling like a walk around the castle after spending most of his week in his office.
He spent a couple hours taking a nap before he went on patrol. It started out uneventful as always, with the exception of Peeves playing tennis in the entrance hall. The poltergeist had found it amusing to pester him and make fun of his height ever since his little blow up a few months back. Edward tried to ignore it – since he was used to jabs about his height by now – but tonight Peeves had been particularly vile, so Edward wound up chasing the poltergeist for a few minutes yelling curses at the specter before resuming his patrol. Thankfully they'd been on the floor where no one was supposed to be up and about.
It wasn't until an hour later when he reached the fourth floor near the entrance to the Astronomy Tower that he heard voices. To his surprise, McGonagall, in a tartan bathrobe and hair net, came around the corner with Malfoy, holding him by the ear.
"Detention!" she shouted. "And twenty points from Slytherin! Wandering around in the middle of the night, how dare you-!"
"You don't understand, Professor. Harry Potter's coming – he's got a dragon!"
"What utter rubbish! How dare you tell such lies! Come on – I shall see Professor Snape about you, Malfoy!"
"What's going on?" Edward asked as he approached them.
"Professor Elric!" McGonagall huffed. "I come out of my chambers because Peeves is making a ruckus and I find Mr. Malfoy here sneaking off to the Astronomy Tower with some nonsense story about Potter and a dragon. I'm taking him to my study on the first floor. Would you be so kind as to wake Professor Snape for me and bring him up at once?"
"Of course," Edward nodded, trying to hide his glee as he headed down to the dungeons.
Malfoy was in trouble! Oh, Edward was snickering the whole trip to Snape's quarters. The Potions Master was not pleased to have been woken up, however, so Edward curbed his amusement. It was a quiet walk back up to McGonagall's study, but when they got there Edward was surprised to see not only Malfoy standing before McGonagall's desk, but Harry, Hermione, and Neville were there as well. Filch was standing in a corner looked the happiest Edward had ever seen the man. In comparison, McGonagall looked absolutely livid, so much so, that not even the sight of her in her bathrobe and hairnet could soften the look.
"I'm disgusted," she said coldly. "Four students out of bed in one night! I've never heard of such a thing before! You, Miss Granger, I thought you had more sense. As for you, Mr. Potter, I thought Gryffindor meant more to you than this. All of you are receiving detention – yes, you too, Mr. Longbottom, nothing gives you the right to walk around school at night, especially these days, it's very dangerous – and fifty points will be taken from Gryffindor."
" Fifty?" Harry gasped.
"Fifty points each," McGonagall said, breathing heavily through her nose.
"Professor – please," Hermione gasped.
Poor Neville looked like he was about to cry.
"You can't-!" Harry protested.
"Don't tell me what I can and can't do, Potter. Now get back to bed, all of you. I've never been more ashamed of Gryffindor students," McGonagall snapped. "Mr. Filch, if you could please escort Mr. Potter, Longbottom, and Miss Granger back to Gryffindor Tower?"
"My pleasure," Filch smiled hideously before leading the three Gryffindors out of the study.
Malfoy looked after them with a small smirk. A smirk that vanished the moment he met Snape's gaze.
"And what are you doing up at this hour, Mr. Malfoy?" Snape asked crisply, folding his arms across his chest.
"P-Potter had a dragon Professor," Malfoy stammered.
"Rubbish," McGonagall huffed. "Severus, I believe that Potter fed Malfoy here some cock-and-bull story about a dragon, trying to get him out of bed and into trouble and Longbottom heard the story and believed it. I caught him out of bed trying to warn Potter that Malfoy here was trying to catch him with the dragon."
"Is that so?" Snape mused, voice cold and neutral. "And you didn't come to me or one of the other professors with this story why, Mr. Malfoy?"
"B-because none of you would have believed me," Malfoy stammered.
"So you took it upon yourself to catch Potter in the act of what was obviously a blatant lie? And then what was your plan? No matter the reason, a student being out of bed after hours is inexcusable except in cases of emergency that require a student to go get a teacher," Snape glared. "Professor McGonagall, how many points did you take off for Mr. Malfoy's serious laps in judgment?"
"Twenty," McGonagall said crisply.
"Then I will be taking an additional thirty off," Snape stated. "I hope that next time, Mr. Malfoy, that you will come to me with such problems in the future. Even though the story was an obvious lie, Potter would have been watched and reprimanded had you informed Professor McGonagall or myself of this. There was no reason for this to have gone so far. Now I suggest that you head back to bed. Professors McGonagall, Elric and I need to discuss a suitable detention for you and your classmates."
Malfoy nodded, looking suitably subdued as he trudged out of the study. Once he was gone, Snape and Edward came to stand in front of McGonagall's desk.
"So what now?" Edward sighed.
"We need to come up with a suitably severe detention," Snape mused.
"Even for Longbottom?" Edward frowned.
"Even for Longbottom," McGonagall nodded. "He was out of bed after hours like the other three. His punishment is to be the same as theirs."
"I suggest we discuss this at a later time," Snape sighed. "It is late and we have classes to prepare for. Exams are only a couple weeks away now."
"Agreed," Edward and McGonagall nodded.
Edward and Snape wished McGonagall good night, and headed back down to the dungeons.
"So… thirty additional points off of McGonagall's twenty," Edward mused. "Couldn't stand to be out done in the reprimanding of students, could you?"
Snape glared at him, but didn't comment.
"It's a lot of points," Edward hummed.
"I merely thought it fair," Snape stated.
"Fair?" Edward gaped. "Since when do you do fair?"
"Since Malfoy is a student of my house, I felt it responsible that he receive the same punishment as the others," Snape snapped.
"Oh, you're just cranky that because of him your beauty sleep was interrupted," Edward snickered.
Snape glared at him again before storming off to his quarter's door and slammed it shut behind him.
Edward chuckled, shaking his head before heading to his own rooms.
Sunday afternoon Edward ran into Ron, Harry, and Hermione on their way out of the Great Hall after breakfast and invited them down to his office. He wanted to know what had happened last night.
"Well?" Edward sighed once he had them seated before his desk. "What happened? What's this that Malfoy was saying about dragons? I want to know what you two," he pointed at Harry and Hermione, "were doing out of bed after hours."
The trio exchanged wary looks before Harry sighed and confessed what had been going on for the last week.
"So let me get this straight," Edward frowned. "Hagrid had won a dragon in a game at a ruddy pub and hatched it? That's what the new pet he's been keeping in his hut was?"
"Yes," Ron nodded, rubbing the hand that had been swollen. It was still a little puffy, but it was clearly better than it had been on Thursday. "We convinced Hagrid to let my brother Charlie – he handles dragons in Romania, remember? Charlie said that a couple of his friends could pick Norbert up and bring him with them to Romania."
"That's what Harry and I were doing out of bed last night," Hermione said softly. "We took Norbert up to the top of the Astronomy Tower so that Charlie's friends could pick him up."
"And Malfoy found out about this how?" Edward raised an eyebrow.
"Malfoy followed us from Herbology and was peeking in through the window in between a gap in Hagrid's curtains when Norbert hatched," Harry explained.
"He also found the letter Charlie wrote me about picking up Norbert in a book he borrowed from he while I was in the hospital wing," Ron grumbled miserable.
"And poor Neville just happened to overhear Malfoy's plans to catch you three," Edward sighed.
The trio nodded miserably.
"Why didn't you come to me with this?" Edward asked.
"We didn't want to get Hagrid into trouble," Harry mumbled.
"And you were so busy preparing for the Ministry inspection that we didn't want to bother you," Hermione added. "You've been working so hard to secure your job here."
"Bloody hell you three! I'm your friend!" Edward cried, jumping to his feet and leaning over his desk. "A student-teacher granted, but still a friend! Did it never cross your minds that I could have taken Norbert for you to give him to these friends of Charlie's so that none of you would have had to break the rules? I could have done it without suspicion! For goodness sake! I'm always carrying about creatures for Quirrel's classes. No one would have suspected me doing anything other than my internship under Quirrel. Malfoy could have been the only one who got in trouble last night!"
The three traded guilty looks.
"Look," Edward sighed, "just let me know if something like this happens again. You three can trust me. You know that right?"
Ron, Harry and Hermione shared a look before nodding.
"…Do you know what our detention is Edward?" Hermione asked timidly.
"Not yet," Edward sighed, running a hand over his face. "Snape and McGonagall still haven't decided yet. You'll know soon enough though, I suspect. Now off you go. Exams are in two weeks and I'm sure you three have lots of studying to do."
Over the next week Edward tried to keep a better eye on Harry as exams got closer. The boy was understandably subdued. Over night Harry Potter had gone from being one of the most popular kids at school, to being hated by all but the Slytherins who were back in the lead for the house cup. Harry had taken to studying even more with Hermione as exam week got closer.
The second week was even more stressful because the Ministry Official had arrived and sat in on all of his Alchemy classes. Not that anything went wrong of course. His students were all well prepared and continued to make him proud as they reviewed the basics of a transmutation circle and the theory of Alchemy. Most of them had even managed to memorize the periodic table and all it's elements. None of them would be transmutating anything any time soon, but he was confident that everyone taking his class would pass his exam – it was only an introduction and theory class after all. The Ministry inspector was quite pleased with him, and informed him that so far, he'd managed to be impressed with Edward's teaching and promise as a teacher at Hogwarts.
In the meantime, McGonagall and Snape were still trying to come up with a suitable detention for the Harry, Malfoy, Hermione and Neville. Edward offered up his own opinions whenever he could. Finally on Thursday night during another of their discussions, Dumbledore turned up and informed them of a situation Hagrid was having with the unicorns in the dark forest. Hagrid would be looking into it the following night.
"That sounds promising," Snape agreed. "Send the four students with Hagrid to find this injured unicorn for their detention."
"I hardly think that sending four students out at night into the forbidden forest with only Hagrid and his dog for protection is safe," McGonagall frowned.
"Then may I suggest that Edward go with them?" Dumbledore smiled. "If that is alright with you, of course, Edward."
"I don't mind," Edward nodded. "It'll get me out of the castle for a while at least. I could use a break after the Ministry's evaluations anyway."
"Thank you," Dumbledore nodded. "Minerva, you can send out the notices tomorrow at breakfast."
"Of course," McGonagall nodded.
The next day after classes and dinner, Edward relaxed back in his office as he prepared for the late night ahead of him. He'd taken short naps throughout the day during his breaks so that he'd be able to stay awake. Just as he'd pocketed the last item he thought he'd need on his person, there was a knock at his office door. He opened the door and came face to face with Draco Malfoy who had a note in his hand. Edward took it without a word and read it.
Your detention will take place at eleven o'clock tonight. Meet Professor Elric at his office by ten-fifty.
"All ready then?" Edward asked, pocketing the note.
"Then lets go. We're meeting Mr. Filch and the other three in the entrance hall," Edward informed the blond as he led the way upstairs.
They had to wait another five minutes with Filch for Harry, Hermione and Neville to arrive.
"Follow me," said Filch once they were all gathered, lighting a lamp and leading them outside.
"I bet you'll think twice about breaking a school rule again, won't you, eh?" Filch said, leering at the four students. "Oh yes…hard work and pain are the best teachers if you ask me. …It's just a pity they let the old punishments die out… hang you by your wrists from the ceiling for a few days, I've got the chains still in my office, keep 'em well oiled in case they're ever needed. …Right, off we go, and don't think of running off, now, it'll be worse for you if you do."
Edward rolled his eyes at Filch's dramatics as they marched off across the dark grounds. Neville kept sniffing, so he put a comforting hand on the boy's shoulder.
"Ignore him Neville," Edward whispered so that only the boy could hear him. "He's just a miserable old geezer who's getting his kicks in while he can."
The boy nodded morosely, but smiled gratefully back at him for a second.
The moon was bright, but clouds scudding across it kept throwing them into darkness. Ahead, Edward could see the lit windows of Hagrid's hut. Then they heard a distant shout.
"Is that you, Filch? Edward? Hurry up, I want ter get started."
Edward smiled when he saw the looks of relief spread across Harry and Hermione's faces at the sound of Hagrid's voice. Unfortunately, Filch saw them too.
"I suppose you think you'll be enjoying yourselves with that oaf? Well, think again – it's into the forest you're going and I'm much mistaken if you'll all come out in one piece."
At this, poor Neville let out a little whimper and Malfoy stopped dead in his tracks.
"The forest?" Malfoy repeated, an edge of panic in his voice. "We can't go in there – there's all sorts of things in there – werewolves, I heard."
Neville let out a terrified squeak and clutched at the sleeve of Harry's robe and made a choking noise.
"That' your problem, isn't it?" said Filch, voice cracking with glee. "Should've thought of them werewolves before you got in trouble, shouldn't you?"
Hagrid then chose that moment to come striding into view out of the dark with Fang at his heel. He was carrying a large crossbow, and a quiver of arrows over his shoulder.
"Abou' time," he said. "I bin waitin' fer half an hour already. All right, Harry, Hermione?"
"I shouldn't be too friendly to them, Hagrid," said Filch coldly, "they're here to be punished, after all."
"That's enough Filch," Edward barked, shoving his way past the caretaker to stand beside Hagrid.
"That's why yer late, is it?" said Hagrid, frowning at Filch. "Bin lecturin' them, eh? 'Snot your place ter do that. Yeh've done yer bit, Ed n' I'll take over from here."
"I'll be back at dawn," said Filch, "for what's left of them," he added nastily, as he turned and started back toward the castle, his lamp bobbing away in the darkness.
Edward shook his head and started pulling out some of the materials he'd brought with him. Hagrid had warned him that there might be some trouble in the forest, so he'd made sure to bring some raw materials he could transmute with. As he was getting his things ready he heard Malfoy start complaining to Hagrid.
"I'm not going in that forest," the blond boy said.
"Yeh are if yeh want ter stay at Hogwarts," Edward heard Hagrid reply fiercely. "Yeh've done wrong an' now yeh've got ter pay fer it."
"But this is servant stuff, it's not for students to do. I thought we'd be copying lines or something, if my father knew I was doing this, he'd-!"
"-tell yer that's how it is at Hogwarts," Hagrid growled. "Copyin' lines! What good's that ter anyone? Yeh'll do summat useful or yeh'll get out. If yeh think yer father'd rather you were expelled, then get back off ter the castle an' pack. Go on!"
Edward looked up and saw that Malfoy hadn't moved. The boy glared at Hagrid fiercely, but then dropped his gaze.
"You two quite finished?" Edward asked breezily before placing his hands down on the edges of the transmutation circle he'd drawn beneath the arrangement of materials he'd finished setting up. He had to make sure that he drew the circles instead of relying on his hand-clapping transmutations. Hermione was quite knowledgeable about alchemy by now and he didn't want her asking any unnecessary questions about his unique ability to transmutate without a transmutation circle. There was a flash of light and energy sparks and arcs in the air before everything settled and a spear was standing upright in the middle of the circle. Edward took the spear in his hand and examined it, satisfied that it was more durable than his usual spontaneous in-the-moment made spears. He took satisfaction in the shocked looks on all of their faces. He raised an eyebrow at Hagrid and cocked his head towards the forest.
"Err… Right then," Hagrid shook himself and got back into stern guide mode. "Now, listen carefully, 'cause it's dangerous what we're gonna do tonight, an' I don' want no one takin' risks. Follow me over here a moment."
The large man led them over to the very edge of the forest. Holding his lamp up high, Hagrid pointed down a narrow, winding earth track that disappeared into the thick black trees. A light breeze lifted their hair as they looked into the forest.
"Look there," said Hagrid, "see that stuff shinin' on the ground? Silvery stuff? That's unicorn blood. There's a unicorn in there bin hurt badly by summat. This is the second time in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. We're gonna try an' find the poor thing. We might have ter put it out of its misery."
"And what if whatever hurt the unicorn finds use first?" Malfoy asked fearfully.
"That's what Hagrid and I are here for," Edward reassured the four students – more for Neville's sake. The boy looked near ready to burst into tears.
"There's nothin' that lives in the forest that'll hurt yeh if yer with me or Fang," Hagrid said. "An' keep ter the path. Right, now, we're gonna split inter two parties an' follow the trail in diff'rent directions. There's blood all over the place, it must've bin staggerin' around since last night at least."
"I want Fang," Malfoy said quickly, no doubt looking at Fang's long teeth.
"All right, but I warn yeh, he's a coward," said Hagrid, making Edward snicker. "So, me, Harry, an' Hermione'll go one way an' Edward, Draco, Neville, an' Fang'll go the other. Now, if any of us find the unicorn, we'll send up green sparks, right? Get yet wands out an' practice now – that's it – an' if anyone gets in trouble, send up red sparks, an' we'll all come an' find yeh – so, be careful – let's go."
The forest was black and silent. A little way into it they reached a fork in the earth path, and Harry, Hermione, and Hagrid took the left path while Malfoy, Neville, Fang, and Edward took the right. They walked in silence, their eyes on the ground. Every now and then a ray of moonlight through the branches above lit a spot of silver-blue blood on the fallen leaves. After a while Edward cast a spell on his spearhead to light up the tip and give them better lighting aside from the lantern that Neville was carrying. The blood trail was fading and it looked like the blood they were finding was older than what they'd started out with. The three humans and the dog entered a clearing where the blood trail ended.
"This must be where the poor creature was attacked," Edward mused, kneeling down to get a better look at the scuffled hoof marks in the earth.
Then he heard Neville let out this loud terrified shriek and then the sound of their lantern falling to the ground and breaking. Edward turned around in time to see Neville point his wand at the sky and shoot up red sparks. Fang was barking and Malfoy was snickering with laughter. Poor Neville was in tears, backing hurriedly away from the blond.
"What the bloody hell happened?" Edward snapped angrily.
"It was only a joke professor," Malfoy shrugged. "I didn't think he'd freak out that much."
"Idiot!" Edward yelled, turning on the blond after casting a repairing charm on the broken lantern and handing it relit back to Neville. "That kind of behavior cannot be tolerated out here! Grow up, brat! I wouldn't be surprised if the whole forest were alerted to our presence now, including the thing that's been attacking these unicorns!"
Malfoy didn't look so amused now. It didn't help that Fang hadn't stopped barking.
"Shut up Fang!" Edward yelled at the boarhound.
"Wha' in blazes is goin' on!" Hagrid roared as he came barreling into the clearing. "I thought you lot were in trouble!"
"Malfoy snook up and grabbed Neville from behind," Edward huffed. "Poor kid panicked and sent up the sparks."
Hagrid grumbled angrily and chewed out Malfoy some more as they all left the clearing to meet back up with Harry and Hermione. Hagrid had left the pair back where they'd been searching to check on Edward and his group.
"We'll be lucky ter catch anythin' now, with the racket you three were makin'. Right, we're changin' groups – Neville, you stay with me an' Hermione. Harry, you go with Edward, Fang, an' this idiot," Hagrid sighed.
Edward and Harry nodded before they set off into the heart of the forest with Malfoy and Fang. Once they were a good distance away from Hagrid and the other two, Edward rounded on Malfoy and leveled his spear at him.
"Now you listen to me, and you listen good, Malfoy," Edward snarled, pinning the blond boy to a tree. "You try to pull something like that again and I will clobber you and stick you with this spear, you understand me?"
Malfoy's eyes went wide like tea saucers.
"Y-you… you wouldn't dare!" Malfoy cried.
"Wanna bet?" Edward gave the boy his best crazy sadistic smile. "So, do we have an understanding, Mr. Malfoy?"
Malfoy paled and nodded furiously.
"Great!" Edward beamed, letting Malfoy go, and continuing on down the forest trail whistling to himself.
"He's mad," he heard Malfoy whisper to Harry. "How can Dumbledore let him teach at Hogwarts?"
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Harry shrug. When Malfoy wasn't looking Edward looked back over his shoulder and winked at Harry, getting a smile and a silent snicker out of the boy.
They walked for nearly half an hour, deeper and deeper into the forest, until the path became almost impossible to follow because the trees were so thick. The blood trail also seemed to be getting thicker and thicker. There were splashes on the roots of a tree, as though the poor creature had been thrashing about in pain close by. Edward could see a clearing ahead, through the tangle of branches from an ancient oak.
"Look," he murmured, holding out his arms to stop the two boys. Something bright white was gleaming on the ground. They cautiously inched closer, Edward getting a better grip on his spear just in case.
It was the unicorn all right, and it was dead. Edward had never seen anything so beautiful and sad. It's long slender legs were stuck out at odd angles where it had fallen and it's mane was spread pearly-white on the dark leaves.
The three of them had taken another step towards it when a slithering sound made Edward and Harry freeze where they stood. A bush on the edge on the clearing quivered. Then, out of the shadows, a hooded figure came crawling across the ground like some stalking beast. They all stood transfixed as the cloaked figure reached the unicorn, lowered its head over the wound in the animal's side, and began to drink its blood.
Malfoy let out a terrible scream and bolted with Fang right behind him. The hooded figure raised its head and looked right at Harry and Edward – unicorn blood dribbling down its front. It got to its feet and came swiftly towards them. Harry was frozen with fear, but Edward wasn't. He raised his spear and leveled it at the hooded figure, ready to fight.
Then Harry let out a pained cry but Edward didn't dare look back to check on the boy as the hooded figure came upon them. Then he heard the sound of hooves behind him, galloping, and something jumped clean over the two of them, charging at the figure. Edward made sure that the figure was occupied with the creature before turning to check on Harry who was on his knees clutching his head.
"Harry!" Edward cried, trying to figure out what was wrong with the boy.
A minute later Harry's heavy breathing evened out and the hands fell away from his head.
"I'm fine," Harry gasped.
"What happened?" Edward demanded.
"…My scar," Harry winced. "It was burning like it was on fire…"
"Are you two alright?"
Harry jumped and Edward jerked his head around and noticed that the hooded figure was gone now and that the creature that had saved them was a centaur.
"Yes – thank you," Edward nodded as he helped Harry back up onto his feet. He looked around and noticed that Malfoy was nowhere to be found. At least the idiot had Fang with him.
"What was that thing?" he heard Harry ask.
The centaur didn't answer his question though. Edward noticed that the creature was staring at Harry's scar.
"You are the Potter boy," the centaur said. "You had better get back to Hagrid. The forest is not safe at this time – especially for you. Can you two ride? It will be quicker this way."
"My name is Firenze," he added, as he lowered himself on to his front legs so that Harry could clamber onto his back.
Firenze looked curiously at Edward wondering why he hadn't gotten on, but Edward shook his head.
"I'm a fast runner," Edward shrugged, before sending up green sparks into the sky for Hagrid.
There was suddenly the sound of more galloping hooves from the other side of the clearing and two more centaurs came bursting through the trees, their flanks heaving and sweaty.
"Firenze!" the black haired and bigger centaur thundered. "What are you doing? You have a human on your back! Have you no shame? Are you a common mule?"
"Do you realize who this is?" said Firenze. "This is the Potter boy. The quicker he leaves this forest, the better."
"What have you been telling him?" growled the same centaur. "Remember, Firenze, we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?"
The other, smaller, chestnut colored centaur with red hair pawed the ground nervously. "I'm sure Firenze thought he was acting for the best," he said in a gloomy voice.
The black haired centaur kicked his back legs in anger.
"For the best!" he spat. "What is that to do with us? Centaurs are concerned with what has been foretold! It is not our business to run around like donkeys after stray humans in our forest!"
Firenze suddenly reared up on his hind legs in anger, so Harry had to grab his shoulders to stay on. Edward stepped back from the centaur but remained close in case he needed to catch Harry.
"Do you not see that unicorn?" Firenze bellowed at the black haired centaur. "Do you not understand why it was killed? Or have the planets not let you in on that secret? I set myself against what is lurking in this forest, Bane, yes, with humans alongside me if I must."
And then Firenze whisked around; with Harry clutching on as best he could, and they plunged off into the trees, leaving Bane and the other unnamed centaur behind them.
Edward didn't have a clue as to what was going on, but he raced after Firenze as best he could and managed to catch up after Firenze slowed his gallop to a walk. They made their way through the trees in silence for a while until the centaur suddenly stopped.
"Harry Potter, do you know what unicorn blood is used for?" he asked.
"No," said Harry. "We've only used the horn and hair in potions."
"That is because it is a monstrous thing, to slay a unicorn," Firenze informed them. "Only one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a crime. The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenseless to save yourself, and you will have but a half-life, from the moment the blood touches your lips."
Harry stared worriedly at Edward for a moment before looking back at the back of Firenze's head.
"But who'd be that desperate?" Harry asked. "If you're going to be cursed forever, death's better, isn't it?"
"It is," Firenze agreed, "unless all you need is to stay alive long enough to drink something else – something that will bring you back to full strength and power – something that will mean you can never die. Mr. Potter, do you know what is hidden in the school at this very moment?"
"The Philosopher's Stone! Of course – the Elixir of Life! But I don't understand who-!"
"Can you think of nobody who has waited many years to return to power, who has clung to life, awaiting their chance?"
Harry looked horrified and Edward himself felt vaguely disturbed.
"Do you mean," Harry croaked, "that was Vol-!"
"Harry! Harry, Edward, are you two alright?"
Hermione was suddenly there, running towards them down the path, Hagrid puffing along behind her. Neville, Malfoy and Fang were coming along a little further back.
"I'm fine," Harry answered her.
"The unicorn's dead, Hagrid," Edward sighed before the man could ask him about his green sparks signal. "It's in that clearing back there."
"This is where I leave you," Firenze murmured as Hagrid hurried off to examine the unicorn. "You are safe now."
Harry slid off the centaur's back with Edward's help.
"Good luck, Harry Potter," said Firenze. "The planets have been read wrongly before now, even by centaurs. I hope this is one of those times."
The horse-man turned and cantered back into the depths of the forest, leaving them alone. Hermione turned, looking at them inquiringly, but Edward shook his head sharply, indicating Malfoy and Neville who had almost caught up to them.
"Not here," he hissed. "Harry can tell you what happened later. We'll all discuss this later in my office with Ron."
Harry and Hermione nodded, falling silent and waited with him, Malfoy, Neville, and Fang for Hagrid to come back.
So what did you think? I hope you enjoyed this chapter even though I feel like Edward was being waaay too serious and OC in this particular chapter, but he just wanted to be that way. :P He did have his moments though, like threatening Malfoy with his spear and a crazy smile. I kept very close to the book on this one, so those of you who haven't read the book... if you're confused about anything please let me know in a review and I'll try to clear up any misunderstandings. The second centaur with Bane was called Roan, by the way. :P
So next chapter we have the epic climax and confrontation of the story and the ending chapter of this fic! I am so excited, I'll try not to make you all wait too long for it. Please review and let me know what you think. The more reviews I get, the more I'm encouraged to get off my lazy ass and update! :) So please review!