Chapter XX- A Leak
Harry had wondered how long it would take, but this was just pathetic. He and his two Slytherin friends watched as Aurors strode through the corridors with Albus and an old man who Harcourt assumed was Nicolas Flemel. Harry caught Hermione's eye as she stood with Neville and Percy across the hall, he shook his head but knew Hermione would see the glint in his eyes. Ron Weasley came running around the corner and headlong into Flemel, the two hit the stone floor and became a tangle of limbs and robes. Harcourt nudged Draco and Theo before running to help the ancient alchemist. Hermione, Percy and Neville met them there.
"Ronald, fifty points from Gryffindor for such irresponsible behaviour!" Percy said as he, Neville and Hermione hauled the yellow skinned boy to his feet and pulled him out of the way so the trio of Slytherins could assist Flemel.
"What, he's just an old wizard, and I have to get to a toilet," Ron cried far too loudly as the observing students gasped and others giggled. Flemel was thanking Harry and his friends when he heard the idiot.
"Have you no respect for your elders, child? I ought to take you over my knee with a switch for such rudeness," said the ancient man.
"Now Nicolas, he's just a rowdy lad," Albus said in a placating manner.
"That is no excuse, Albus, none at all and you know that. I want him properly punished for such insult and injury to my person."
"Of course, Mr Flemel, I'll see to it personally as his elder brother. I deeply apologise on behalf of my family, and Ronald will apologise as well. Now," Percy said dragging Ron in front of the alchemist by his robe. Harcourt was pleased with how his punishment was turning out.
Ronald had been multiple colours since he returned to school, since Christmas actually, and not even Pomfrey could figure out what the cause was. His parents couldn't afford to take him to St Mungo's and so tried home remedies. Harcourt found it amusing that it had only worsened after that. Each colour had specific embarrassing properties to it; such as yellow indicating his bladder and bowels acted up at random intervals and Ron constantly found himself needing a toilet.
Currently the brat was clutching himself at the crotch, and Flemel noticed.
"What on earth are you touching yourself for, boy? That is immodest behaviour in front of young ladies, or anyone for that matter," said the old man in a stern voice.
Ron refused to move his hands and before Flemel could tell him again there was a hissing noise like a faucet running. With it was the unmistakable odour of piss and Flemel had a look of disgust.
"Lad, I'm terribly sorry that you're related to... This animal, you're parents should keep him out of society until he is no longer a savage. Albus, we're going to your office so you can explain yourself."
Having given Percy his sound advice he turned and left the hallway with Albus and the aurors following. Whispers broke out as they left and Ron's face was as orange as his hair. Percy took a vindictive pleasure in publically berating his brother. Harry smirked and left with Draco and Theo following. They made it to an empty corridor before breaking out in chuckles.
"Did you see Flamel's face? I thought it would stick that way," Theo said holding his sides.
"Harcourt, I've no doubt that Flamel is here because of the stone, but what are we going to do about it?" Draco asked. "Are we keeping it, or somehow giving it back without arousing suspicions?"
"I already slipped it into his pocket when I helped him up; I've got to say that Weasley's rudeness was very convenient," Harry said. "I've learn a lot from the stone, not as much as I wanted, but it would've been wrong to keep it."
"So what now? Do we figure out why Quirrell is pretending to be incompetent?" Theo asked. Harcourt shook his head.
"I've sent evidence and an anonymous note to the Department of Mysteries on the matter. Quirrell broke several laws, as far as I can tell, with his stunt on Halloween and some other cases in Albania," He said straightening his robes. "I believe the aurors are here for our dear professor. Anyway, we should get to Charms."
Abandoned classroom, that Friday
"So I've accepted the offer from the Lord about the apprenticeship," Percy said. "Please express my deepest gratitude to your aunt."
"Oh Percy, I'm so happy for you!" Hermione said. The boys all nodded their agreement.
"My Gran just sent me a letter, she's happy with my improved marks, but she says I'm not up to my father's level in Defence and Potions," Neville said slumping in his seat. He'd grown more confident since getting his new wand. Although the cutting remarks from his family and dorm mates kept him relatively shy and timid.
"Your marks in Charms and Transfiguration have improved drastically, though," Theo said. "They're on par with your marks for Herbology, and even Snape says you're doing well. Coming from him, that's amazing."
"Theo is right, Sev doesn't compliment anyone outside of Slytherin, or even in-house really, unless he's impressed," Draco said. "Be proud you're one of the few."
"You've no need to worry about your grandmother," Harcourt said. "I'm sure your parents would be proud of you for your talents."
"Say, speaking of Defence, do we know what happened to Professor Quirrell after the aurors arrested him?" Hermione asked.
"He died, that's what father told me. It caused a mess in the Ministry since he died during interrogation," Percy said. "Apparently, some entity was possessing him, and during the interview, the spirit made its escape, killing the professor in the process."
"Do they know who or what the entity was?" Theo asked.
"My deduction is that it was a wizard who had dabbled in necromancy; upon their death they found themselves trapped between living and not, so they possessed living beings until they could regain a body of their own. It explains why Quirrell went to the forest, as the attacks against unicorns coincide with his nightly strolls, and why he was after the stone," Harcourt said crossing his legs.
"Whoa, but who was the wizard? I mean, necromancy isn't practiced often, even by the dark faction," Draco asked. A wizard mad enough to play with the dead and souls were rare, and word spread fast.
"Most likely someone from the last war, probably a high ranking Death Eater," Theo offered. "...It may have even been the Dark Lord."
"He died Theo," Percy said.
"A necromancer wouldn't really die, and the Dark Lord was said to experiment with all sorts of magic that even extreme dark wizards consider forbidden," Draco said, he looked pale at the prospect. "Not to mention, the Dark Lord's body was never found, it couldn't be tested for a soul lingering. Theo's right, it could've been him."
"Well, whoever it was didn't get the stone. So there's something," Neville said.
"True, but a necromancer wouldn't give up that easily, especially if it was the Dark Lord," Hermione said. "He'd be desperate to get a body back, and resume his campaign of terror."
"'Campaign of terror'? What is this, a novel?" Draco snorted. "Although Granger makes a good point, whoever it is, Dark Lord or no, they are dangerous and will try to regain their body."
"We should follow all avenues, Draco, Theo, your families are in the dark faction, and even served Voldemort. See what you can learn about it, but be discreet. Neville, your Grandmother may tell you what she knows of the death eaters if you ask about it in relation to your father- he was an auror, so he must have been involved with them," Harcourt said.
"What about Percy and I?" Hermione asked.
"You and Percy should research possible ways to regain a body; I have my own areas of interest to pursue. However, officially this case is closed. We may never meet this entity again, so don't feel like we're racing against time," Harcourt said brushing invisible lint off his shoulder.
"Chances are likely though, right?" asked Theo.
"I've not the foggiest. We should still look into it, but it shouldn't take priority," Harcourt said. "There will be other things to occupy us, but you never know when our research into this may be useful."
Harry stood studying the gargoyle that led to the headmaster's domain. Snape had sneered when he'd informed Harcourt the headmaster wished to speak to him. Harcourt wondered what was the catalyst for this meeting. It had been nearly the whole school year, and the headmaster hadn't spoken to him once, so why now. It made Harry suspicious of what the old man wanted.
The Gargoyle was obviously a guardian, which meant there was a password to get past it. Harcourt didn't know enough about the Headmaster to feel comfortable with guess, besides which he hated guessing. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw professor McGonagall approaching. He turned and gave her a polite smile.
"Hello professor, I wonder if you could help me. Professor Dumbledore requested my presence but didn't inform me of the password," he said while making his eyes widen a touch. It gave the look of vulnerability. McGonagall smiled at him.
"Of course, Mr. Holmes," she said turning to the stone guardian. "Ice lolly."
The statue leap aside and the pair ascended the staircase that appeared. Harcourt felt incredulity at the password.
"I do wish the Headmaster took a bit more care with the passwords, why he always chooses sweets is beyond me," McGonagall huffed as they reached the door to Dumbledore's office. Harcourt tucked her comment into his memory for future reference. They entered the office to find Dumbledore and seven noble men and women seated in a semicircle with Dumbledore at the centre. Harcourt assumed these were a representation of the school's Board of Governors. Resisting the urge to narrow his eyes, Harcourt kept his face blank but gave a small placid smile.
"Albus, what is going on?" asked McGonagall. She looked confused and suspicious. The door behind Harcourt opened and Snape billowed into the room.
"May I ask why one of my students and I have been summoned?" asked the dour man with a sneer. "I have papers to grade and Mr Holmes has exams to study for."
Harcourt gave a small nod of agreement to the seated parties.
"All is well, Severus," Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his blue eyes. He waved the professors over to sit at the ends of the semicircle. That left Harcourt to sit on the stool facing them. Harcourt gave a modest bow before standing by the seat. tradition and manners dictated that he remain standing until given permission.
"Please, m'boy, sit," Dumbledore said with his blasted twinkle. Harry nodded his head and perched himself onto the stool with grace. He kept his back straight and his head tall, the governors and Snape gave him looks of approval. Harcourt itched to speak but kept his tongue. The silence was a test, he didn't know what was happening, but he knew Dumbledore was waiting for him to slip out of his Slytherin character.
Think Harry, why seven representatives. The House head and Deputy-Headmistress were required when the board summoned a student, but what is this for? Traditionally, the board summoned a student if crimes had been committed, whether as defendant, accuser or witness. They could also be called in other circumstances, but what that is is confidential. Damn I wish I had more data, Harcourt felt his mind spinning. He thought back to the forbidden corridor, had he left evidence? No, and he'd made sure neither Draco nor Theo had either. They couldn't prove a crime had been committed.
"M'boy, we have something very serious to discuss," Dumbledore finally said. Harcourt almost started to sweat. "Could you explain what these are?"
The chemicals his Papa had smuggled to him were summoned to Dumbledore's desk. Harcourt was thankful that his Dad, while disapproving, had ensured none were actually dangerous.
"At a glance, sir. I would say those were chemicals of a sort," Harry replied. He wondered if he should admit they were his, but decided against it. He'd speak only the truth, but that didn't mean he'd be caught by the old man before him.
"I see... Well, I have been told by the portraits that you have spent hours in the room these and several potion ingredients were found. After curfew," Dumbledore said in a grave voice. Snape's eyes bore into Harcourt but the boy refused to look at his House Head.
"I have insomnia, sir, and I found earlier this year that sleeping potions had little effect. At home, I found my mind quiets when I experiment. I was merely doing so here. My marks don't suffer for it, and I don't use any dangerous compound," Harcourt said. While he didn't quite have insomnia, Harcourt found he did have difficulty sleeping if his mind wasn't quiet. The rest was true.
"Is there a reason that you decided to experiment on the fourth floor?" Dumbledore asked.
"While the compounds themselves aren't dangerous, I know that mixing magic and non- magical compounds can be unpredictable. The fourth floor has no classes, and all of the rooms are abandoned. Not to mention the Hospital wing in housed on that floor. I concluded that students don't go exploring on that floor and if something did happen, help was close by."
Silence reigned as they let Harcourt's response sink in.
"Do you know what has happened to Mr Weasley?" Dumbledore questioned.
"If you're speaking of the Weasley in my year, sir, then with all due respect; the entire student body knows sir. Although, I'm sure none of us know how it happened, we have seen its effects."
"So you do not know if your compounds caused his condition?"
"Headmaster, if they did, then I too would be experiencing his predicament. However, all firstyears are taught a simple unlocking charm. It's how I got into the room. Perhaps he did the same and decided to consume it or something along those lines. From what I can tell he is the sort."
Harcourt caught the wizard who was obviously Draco's father give a small smirk at his last comment. Snape's eyes shone with mirth and his mouth twitched.
"The sort?" Dumbledore asked confused.
"Yes sir, the sort to not think that perhaps unknown substances shouldn't be consumed. The sort who apparently can't think before he acts. From what I know of him, he seems the sort. I mean, how else would you explain his behaviour to the Nicholas Flemel?" Harcourt asked his an expression of innocence.
"I believe I have enough information to determine that Mr Holmes here was not involved in whatever occurred to young Mr Weasley," Said Malfoy. An older witch nodded.
"I concur, however," she said. "I do believe that precautions must be taken to ensure this doesn't happen again."
"I'll give Mr Holmes an unused classroom in the dungeons to conduct his experiments," Snape said. "I'll also see if I cannot find a remedy for his insomnia."
The governors all nodded and told Harcourt he was dismissed. He thanked them, bowed and left. Harcourt walked calmly to his dormitory and heaved a sigh of relief at having escaped. He also vowed to never be so careless again.