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A Stranger in the Promised Land Chapter III (part4)  

2009-07-17 13:24:23|  分类: HP转载 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Argh!

His body was weakening. He needed to lie down. No! Come on, get up, Harry!

Harry crawled to the cabinet. He opened the glass doors and began to scan the phials.

He needed Blood-Replenishing Potion for obvious reasons, Pepper-up Potion to help alleviate the shock and dehydration, and something to clean and close the wounds. Painkillers were also a must.

Cleaning was simple; he found a bottle of the anti-sceptic potion that Pomfrey had used to clean his injuries many times before. He also found a salve that she used on grazed knees. This was a little bit more severe than that, but if it helped the skin grow back over, it would be useful. He judged that since there wasn't that much blood, he hadn't hit a major artery or vein. Tissue damage was mildly worrying. Once he had cleaned and stopped the bleeding, he would have to see if he had any problems moving it.

With the necessary potions in his pockets, Harry grabbed a set of bandages and pads and stuffed them into his pocket, just as his legs buckled again. His head was spinning and he felt really faint. He didn't have the strength for anything else. His legs were numb and he could feel the blackness coming. He grabbed the bottle of potion in his good hand. His vision was blurring and his head becoming faint. Not caring about dosage or Jaredain's bloody principles, Harry took a gulp of potion.

After a second he felt a wave of strength return to him as the potion replenished his arteries with fresh oxygen-rich blood. His head was still spinning, but he had bought himself time. Oxygen has returned to his body. He was still weak and bleeding. There was more work to be done, but not here. Pomfrey wouldn't be gone forever.

Summoning his remaining strength, he flamed back to the side of the lake. It was deserted and so he had room to work. He didn't want to get his bed covered in blood and couldn't think of anywhere else to go that assured him time alone.

He was unable to stand and time was running out - blood alone would not keep him conscious and he was still losing it quickly. He needed to stop the bleeding. It was amazing how instinct was already in place to save him. When any person cuts themselves, their instinctual reaction is to cover it and hold it firmly. Their natural reaction is to apply pressure to slow the bleeding. Harry didn't need to be a medic to do this. Come on, he thought to himself.

He removed the dressing he had made from his cloak and then splashed some of the cleaning fluid all over his arm. He hissed in pain as it bit into him, killing any germs. The liquid was cold and he felt it evaporating, making his arm feel cold. He opened the pot of skin healing salve with his wand and then dipped two cotton-wool pads into a thick viscous slime that looked rather like mucus. Taking a deep breath, he pressed one gently into each side of his arm, using his wand to stick it in place. He then wrapped a bandage around it all to hold it steady and protect it, pulling it tight. He cried out in pain as he pulled it tight, causing the dressing to press into the tender flesh. At least it didn't cut off the blood supply to his arm. He didn't want that amputated. He used his teeth and good hand to tie it off.

That done, he could now focus on the potions. He took another swig of the Blood Replenishing Potion. Hermione's words from the potions lesson came back to him: "too much of a potion, even an antidote, can be dangerous". He didn't care at this precise moment. He didn't have the time or patience to mess around with measuring jugs.

He took a swig of the Pepper-up potion. He felt warmth spread through his body and his strength return. He had stopped shivering and sweating. Lastly he took a swig of painkillers and sighed as icy relief flowed into his burning arm.

Harry waited a few minutes for them to take full effect. The throbbing pain in his arm dimmed and he felt the haziness lift. He was seated on a rock on the shore of the lake, a clear January sky above him. There was a light breeze that caused small waves to wash up on the shore. It was surprisingly relaxing. Harry's heart was still pounding from the experience.

He had come so close to death. Whoever that man was could have killed him, just like he could have in the Forbidden Forest. And then there was the matter of his injury. This would take time to heal. He was in no fit state to fight anything. Also, his injury needed to remain a secret. He couldn't allow anyone to learn of it. He had very nearly passed out in the hospital wing. That would have been a disaster, needing to explain to everyone what he was doing, how he had been injured. He had had a lucky escape tonight, in fact two. He needed to tread more carefully from now on.

He pulled the red diary from his pocket. "You'd better have been worth it," he muttered, before sticking it back in his pocket. He would inspect it later, when he got a chance. For now he needed food. He looked down at his feet around which were the remains of what he had taken from the hospital wing. Some of it was still yet to be used.

Harry put the leftover potions, pads, and bandages into his pockets. He could use those when his bandages needed changing. He then wrapped the used equipment and bloody pads up in his bloodstained cloak. Using his wand, he set the whole wad on fire, destroying the evidence. He watched it burn for a moment, absorbing the heat of the fire. It burned vigorously for a few moments before going out. Harry cast the remains into the water of the lake. That should stop anyone learning what had happened tonight.

He took a deep breath. Holding his arm close to him, Harry turned from the lake. It was time to head back to the castle. He flamed up to the small cloakroom off the entrance hall that had come in so handy during the vampire attack in Rose's world. He was wearing black trousers and a black jumper. Since one sleeve had been mangled, he removed it entirely and then decided to remove the other one to match. However, this exposed the bandages. Harry scanned the racks of cloaks.

Wizards wore cloaks, which was at this moment inconvenient as he needed something that would cover his arm and not open up. Also something that wouldn't be questioned as he wore it indoors. At the end of the line, Harry found what he was looking for: a fleece.

He pulled on the woollen jacket and stepped out of the cloakroom. There were a few people moving through the hall, though no one had noticed him. It was definitely time for dinner. He was hungry and knew that he needed to replenish his strength. Harry walked towards the double doors and fell into line with the others all heading in to dinner.

As it happened, he ended up behind Cho Chang. Oh, how little she interested him these days.

"…to be fair, it is her own fault," said Marietta, who was accompanying her best friend. Harry noticed that the word sneak was not imprinted in spots on her face…yet. Was she still a Judas in this world, he wondered? Either way, it was highly unlikely that Harry would ever consider her, or any other version of Marietta Edgecombe, his friend. Still, it didn't stop him earwigging on their conversation.

"True," said Cho. "I mean, it's good that someone is standing up to Umbridge, but there's brave and then there's stupid and she crossed the line."

"Just because she can teach…"

"Marietta!" hissed Cho.

"I know," said Marietta, scathingly. "But you have to admit that she is really arrogant. Thinking she owns the school."

"I think you are being a little unfair," said Cho.

"Yeah, well," said Marietta. "Just because I go, doesn't mean I have to like her. I reckon she deserved that detention."

Just then they entered the hall and Harry went a different way than the Ravenclaws. It seemed that Marietta was just as bitchy here as ever, and Cho was just as wet. Katie had had a detention as well, apparently. Poor girl. Harry wouldn't wish a Blood Quill on her. However, it was not his affair. He thrust the thought aside and concentrated on a far more pressing issue: dinner.

Ron and Hermione were sitting with Neville at the Gryffindor table. Harry decided to join them. He crossed the hall and sank onto the bench next to Neville.

"Evening," he said. The three of them returned his greeting. Harry had a feeling that whatever they had been talking about had been put on hold as he had arrived. It was a bit of a clique.

"What've you been up to today?" asked Hermione, making conversation.

"Same old," said Harry. He reached across to help himself to some cottage pie. As he did, he noticed in his peripheral vision that Ron looked at Neville and tapped his watch. Harry was clearly an inconvenience to them at this point. Interesting.

Harry took a mouthful of pie. He felt as if he hadn't eaten in years. He felt the strength return to his body, though he still felt ill. In truth, he was looking forward to dessert. A nice big cake that was high in sugar would see him right, probably.

"So where's Katie?" asked Harry.

"Detention with the she-devil," said Neville, before adopting a German accent. "Ze Führer haz decreed zat thinking und freedom ov speech ist nicht güt, und ist punishable by…detention."

"Riiiiight," said Harry, laughing slightly at Neville's impression of the Waffen SS and taking another mouthful.

"Well," said Hermione, rising to leave. "I have an essay to write for Slughorn. I need to head up to the library."

"Really?" said Ron needlessly loudly. "Can I come? I've been struggling with that one." Harry resisted the urge to shake his head at Ron's acting.

"Sure," said Hermione. "Neville?"

"Go on then," said Neville. "I was going to leave it until tomorrow, but if you insist. See you later, Harry." As he turned to leave, he reached out and gave Harry a friendly slap on the arm, right where the spike had penetrated.

Harry hissed in agony as pain surged through his arm; his eyes bulged as he managed to stifle a cry. Instantly Neville, Ron, and Hermione turned back to face him, surprise and confusion on their faces, which slowly turned to suspicion. They probably thought he had the Dark Mark.

"It's nothing," said Harry. "I was doing catch-up potions with Slughorn and burned my arm. I was an idiot and reached across the flames."

"Has Madam Pomfrey seen it?" asked Hermione, looking concerned.

"No," said Harry. "There's no need. Slughorn game me some salve to put on when I go to bed. I'll be alright. Go and do your essays."

"Sure you're okay, mate?" asked Neville.

"Happy as Larry," said Harry, looking him in the eye.

"Happy as Harry," corrected Neville with a grin. "Okay, see you later."

The three of them turned to leave. Harry watched them go, cradling his arm close to him. Wherever they were going, it was not the library. Harry spooned some shepherd's pie into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully.

So the three stooges have disappeared, but not to the library, Harry thought. He had a fairly good idea where they were going and what they were doing. On reflection, it had never been his idea, so there was no reason that it could not happen without him. He had to admit he was curious to see how it was going, if they were as good as his crew had been.

Still, not a lot would be happening tonight. Katie was in a detention with Umbridge, according to Neville. Harry shivered, the back of his hand beginning to itch at the memory. Umbridge was a vicious and spiteful cow. Harry had done many things he wasn't proud of, but he hadn't ever enjoyed causing pain like she had. Harry was a killer, but he considered himself less of a monster than her. He certainly didn't take his insecurities out on children.

He shook his head. Poor Katie. He would have to drop a hint about the solution that Hermione had had him soak his hand in. Making it himself would draw attention, but dropping a hint, 'maybe Hermione can make you something to ease the pain.' would be fine as it didn't directly involve him. He supposed that easing the pain was the least he could do, as long as it didn't compromise his primary objective.

Getting home was his first priority. He would have a look at the book tomorrow evening if he could get some time to himself and see where that led.

Still in the meantime, he could help out Katie from behind the scenes. Easing the pain in her hand would be enough. Much more and he would become involved, and that was dangerous. He had felt this way before, in the Unholy Land, and he had been sucked into the war there. But he could argue that Harry Potter had been involved in that war to begin with, and the war had sought him out, not the other way around. Here, it was nothing to do with him. It wasn't his world, it wasn't his fight. Here he had a choice and he had chosen. He would not get involved. He liked Katie, sure - well, his Katie, that is - and if he could within reason, he would spare her the pain of these detentions, but it was not in his power. He couldn't exactly march in there and hex Umbridge, however tempting it may be. He'd end up in a right flap.

Then again…

Harry rested his head on hands. He had a way of watching her without her knowing, so he could in theory help her without her knowing. So far, she hadn't seemed to be too suspicious of her new friend; in fact she seemed quite grateful. Harry realised that flying into a girl's room at night and watching her sleep was in fact a rather pervy thing to do, and made him sound like either a vampire or a peeping-tom. Harry cast the thought aside. He was there on a purely professional matter. He had not spent the night staring at her bum or anything like that - he was not there for that. She wasn't even of his world.

In fact, by definition, she was an alien. Not a little green man, but she was not from his Earth. Flamel said that from the Magical Signature, he could tell which world Harry was from - okay, so he had been wrong but if the principle was right, then the same person from two different worlds would have an ever so slightly different signature. Was Riddle here skilled enough to find the difference, he wondered? Another, albeit a rather odd, question popped into his mind. Would the fact that she was from a different world, i.e. and alien, make it bestiality? Harry thrust the thought aside. It was a moot point - he wasn't looking for a girlfriend and he certainly wasn't stupid enough to start now. Acquiring a lady-friend didn't even feature on his list of priorities at this time.

He realised that he had digressed and shook his head. The point was that he had a way to enter without people knowing who he was. He did in fact have the power to intervene and save Katie at least some of the pain. Did that give him the right to? Should he interfere in what was nothing to do with him? He hadn't travelled in time, so it wasn't as if he might affect the future and re-write history. In the end it came down to a simple choice. Did he want to?

He made his choice.

~~~~ + ~~~~

I will not tell lies

The streaks of blood glistened as they formed the loopy writing. Katie clenched her jaw, determined not to give Umbridge the satisfaction of hearing her complain. The pain faded as the incisions healed, leaving nothing but a pale line. Glaring at her hand and then her captor for the umpteenth time, she took a deep breath and wrote the line again.

SMASH!

All of a sudden the window to her left flew open with such force that it hit the wall and two panes shattered, raining jagged glass down to the floor. Katie's head snapped up to look, and her hand moved instantly to her wand. Umbridge was on her feet and moving towards the window, cursing under her breath.

She grasped the iron handle of the window, and muttering to herself raised her wand to the shattered panes, trying to fix the glass that now littered the floor. Katie took the opportunity to use her wand to duplicate her lines, giving her another page of work. The sheet would be burned in front of her long before the spell wore off. Umbridge did that at the end of every detention to remind her that all her pain was for nothing - a reoccurring theme amongst their interactions. At least she didn't know about the RA.

"ARGH!"

Katie looked up at the sound of the scream, just in time to see a ball of flame erupt in front of Umbridge. As she staggered back, slipping on the broken glass, the phoenix soared in through the window, its claws narrowly missing Umbridge as she fell. Katie felt her insides leap as the bird swooped around her and then came in to land on the end of her table. Umbridge had landed amidst the glass and was tending to her bleeding fingers from where she had broken her fall. Katie looked down at the phoenix, which seemed to be inspecting her hand. The bird looked from her hand to Umbridge and then up to Katie. She was sure that it understood what was going on, with almost human-like intellect. The bird cawed softly, before cocking its head. A single glistening tear escaped its eye, falling down its beak and on to her hand. She felt a cool soothing sensation as it landed. As another followed, Katie felt he hand begin to tingle as the wound closed itself. The cool tears cast a feeling of freshness though her, like a cool wind after a stuffy room. She felt energy return to her arm.

WHACK!

A metre-long ruler used during lessons came crashing down on the desk, narrowly missing the bird, which squawked indignantly. With a flutter, it spread its mighty wings and launched itself into the air, rising near vertically towards the rafters.

"Get away!" snapped Umbridge, raising her wand and attempting to Stun the phoenix, which twisted out of the way and came to perch on the rafters.

"You can't do that!" said Katie hotly, glaring at the teacher.

"I am High Inquisitor!" said Umbridge icily. "I can do what I like!"

"But it's a phoenix!" said Katie. "You can't hit a phoenix any more than a unicorn. They're peaceful, higher beings!"

"Which the Ministry classes as dangerous," snapped Umbridge, firing another hex up into the rafters. "I am not having animals running free over my school. It's not a zoo."

"It's not your school," snapped Katie.

The Phoenix cawed loudly from the rafters. As Umbridge looked up, the creature dived for her, its claws missing her ludicrous perm by inches as she ducked. It turned upwards, flying back up and circling just beneath the ceiling, cawing loudly.

"This is pointless," said Umbridge in despair as her fifth Stunner sailed wide of the circling bird.

"We will continue your detentions tomorrow," she said. "And for your cheek, it will be three hours, not two. Be here at six."

Katie didn't say anything else, but darted out of the room. She heard another shout of 'Stupefy' before the phoenix fluttered out of the room and sailed down to land on her shoulder as she headed back towards the seventh floor - she was very late. She hissed slightly as its claws sank into her robes. She knew it hadn't meant to hurt her, but was just trying to get a grip.

Somehow, its weight was comforting as she walked. She could feel its soft warm feathers against her ear as she walked. It was nice not to be alone. She was glad Hermione had been right, and that it had returned. She didn't in all honesty know where she stood with the phoenix. She knew it wasn't a pet and would be insulted if she asked it to carry a package. She also knew now that Umbridge despised them, and she was fairly sure that they would be banned by another Educational Decree tomorrow morning. Still, the phoenix had shown up two days in a row - this was an encouraging thought. It seemed to come and go when it pleased, or rather when it was needed. She smiled; the thought was comforting. Her white knight, albeit a feathery one, was here.

She looked down at her hand. She had rubbed the tears in, and now the skin was perfectly healed. The scar was barely visible and her hand felt as fresh as ever.

"Thank you," she whispered.

The phoenix gently pressed its head against the side of hers, in what she assumed was a sign of affection. Suddenly with a loud caw right in her ear, she felt a rush of wind as the bird jumped into the air. She staggered back a pace under the force as it lifted from her shoulder. She stood frozen to the spot as the bird soared forward at incredible speed, turned right and flew around the corner.

Suddenly there was a thud that sounded suspiciously like someone falling over.

"Jesus!" muttered a voice.

Wand drawn, Katie stepped around the corner to find Harry Potter in a heap on the floor.

"What are you doing here?" asked Katie, letting her wand arm fall to her side.

"Do you mean here as in a heap on the floor, or here as in the east wing?" he said indignantly, climbing to his feet. He brushed himself off, looking rather put out. "For your information," he continued, "I am heading back to the Tower, or rather I was before this bloody great big bird flew out of nowhere and damn near flew into me. Where'd it go anyway?" He looked around, trying to find the phoenix, which thankfully had pulled another disappearing act.

"What bird?" asked Katie, playing dumb. She didn't want news to spread that she had a phoenix. It was best she keep this knowledge to herself. Tomorrow Umbridge would outlaw unusual pets, and she didn't need any more attention than she would get. In some ways it was fortunate that it came and went when needed.

"A big orange...thing," said Harry, flapping his arms to imitate a bird. Katie rolled her eyes, and turned on her heel. She was late for the meeting, and trading sarcasm with Harry Potter was the last thing she needed. To her great annoyance, the boy fell into step beside her.

"Yes?" asked Katie as they walked.

"Well, we are both going back to the Tower, aren't we?" said Harry. "This is the best way?" It was odd, noted Katie, that he used rhetoric like a teacher. He almost sounded as if he was talking down to her, something she would never have expected from him. She pushed the thought aside, as Harry's use of English was not her main priority. She needed to get rid of him and pronto. They were fast approaching the junction where she needed to turn right to head up to the Room of Requirement and her meeting, and Harry would have to go straight on to the Tower.

She was already suspicious of the boy. Hermione had said earlier that he had quizzed her about Arithmancy of all things, and how she was doing in her lessons, as if he didn't know she was a straight-O student. There was something wrong with Harry, something she couldn't put her finger on, but something that made it clear he could not be trusted.

"Can I ask you a personal question?" asked Harry, after a few moments of silence. The question pulled Katie from her thoughts about the very person who was speaking.

"Depends how personal," said Katie, her mind thinking of a way to get rid of him, rather than listening.

"How do you cope with all the…rumours?"

"What do you mean?" said Katie, her mind coming back down to Earth as his words pierced her mind. Was he just after some gossip? Her jaw clenched in frustration, but then a terrifying thought occurred to her. Was he a spy? Was that why he was quizzing Hermione earlier? Was he Umbridge's stooge? Did the old bag have a spy in the Gryffindor common room? Was nowhere safe?

Katie gritted her teeth, but managed to hide her anger at the thought. Her face remained neutral.

"Well," said Harry, his tone emotionless but gentle. "I had a friend who was kind of in a similar position to you. I mean not exactly, because you are unique, but he was famous for what his mother did, or more specifically died doing. Everywhere he went he used to get things, have people shake his hand, and then one day for no particular reason, the media turned on him. Overnight he went from being loved to being a laughingstock for no reason other than some madman in a suit behind a desk decided he didn't like him and wanted to break him."

Katie stopped walking and turned to face him. It was a more insightful question than she had heard all term.

"What happened to him?" she asked.

"Well," said Harry, staring ahead into space. "He was fine as long as he had a few good friends, but one day he lost them. He was alone in a world that hated him. He carried on the good fight as best he could…but…eventually..."

"He's dead?"

"Close," said Harry. "Might as well be. Total mental breakdown: locked up in his own little world, unable to escape - a prison for his mind."

Katie stared into those unblinking green eyes. There was a sadness there she had not seen before. He had appeared so calm since he had been back, almost chillingly so, but now there was a deep sadness. Whoever this friend was, it had been someone very dear to him. It also echoed part of her own life. She too had been made a laughingstock for no better reason than Fudge had got it into his head that she was a threat.

"I'm sorry," said Katie. She raised a hand and rested it lightly on his shoulder. She felt him tense as she touched him, recoiling a fraction of an inch, but then relaxing. God, he was so tense. What was worrying him?

"It's okay," said Harry. "Feels like ancient history now. So what about you?" His icy cold mask was back in place.

"Much the same way," said Katie. "There are those who believe me, and those who don't. I refuse to waste time making people believe me. I just want to…" she paused.

"Live your life?" suggested Harry. Strange, they were just the words she had been looking for.

She nodded. "I didn't want any of this. And people think I like this attention, this constant ridicule. Don't they see that I hate it, and I would give it all up for a chance to live with my parents? But it's in the past and I can't change it - I just have to make do. I know I am right, I have friends who will stand by me, and everyone else can bugger off. I don't care about their opinions, they don't matter to me."

Her voice was becoming more shaky, more erratic, so she stopped before she either said something she'd regret or burst into tears.

"You haven't asked me," said Harry. "You haven't asked what I believe."

"I've given up trying to convince people," said Katie.

"And so you should," said Harry. "My opinion, Malfoy's, Betty Jones' from Milton Keynes, and everyone else' shouldn't matter. We cannot understand what it is like to be you, and none of us have the courage to stand up and fight. What right do we have to judge you? None. You have your friends with you - value them, Katie, don't let them go. As long as they are with you, you have all you need."

Katie stared at the boy. The sadness was gone and his eyes were expressionless, staring unblinkingly into hers.

"Strong as you are, you cannot do this alone," said Harry. "They can help you. As with my friend, if you lose those you hold dear, you have nothing left to keep you straight and sane."

Katie stood motionless, unable to speak. Harry paused for a second before he relaxed. His face and eyes softened and looked away. "I just thought I should mention it - you seem a bit down."

"I…" Katie stammered, caught a little off-guard. In all her years, this boy was the closest anyone had come to understanding her. It was something of a shock, as well as a stark warning. He was cleverer than he appeared.

Harry took a step along the passage before turning back to her, "Coming back to the tower?"

"Yes," said Katie absently, thinking about what he had said. "No!" she said, suddenly remembering the situation. "I have to…I forgot my bag. I just need to fetch it from the library. I'll see you up there."

"You want me to come with you?" he offered.

"Thanks, but I can manage," said Katie, struggling to keep the false smile on her face. Harry regarded her for a second, and she was glad he couldn't do Legilimency.

"Okay," said Harry. "See you later."

Katie nodded and then turned on her heel, not noticing the boy behind her. He too turned to leave, but paused a second later, staring back at her with a curious stare. As she rounded the corner, the boy crouched down, and then rose in a flutter of fiery feathers up towards the rafters.

~~~~ + ~~~~

Harry took off and flapped his way up to the rafters. For some reason his injured arm didn't translate to an injured wing. His flight was not impeded in the slightest. He flew swiftly upward, but he did not land on the rafters, but continued to glide as slowly as possible after Katie, walking beneath him. At this slow speed he had little manoeuvrability unless he flapped, which was noisy. He was lucky she hadn't heard him take off. He had nearly hit a rafter twice, but he managed to keep going, keeping an eye on the girl below.

She was oblivious to her pursuer and walked swiftly on. After a few metres, she checked her watch. He heard her curse aloud and then break into a run. She was not heading towards the library, nor was she heading towards the Tower. Where on Earth was she going? Harry accelerated after her, keeping close to the ceiling, hidden by the shadows despite his bright plumage.

Why wasn't I a blackbird? he thought to himself.

With the added speed he could soar between rafters effortlessly in perfect silence, undetectable, unless he crashed or she looked up. Katie came to the south-side staircase and began to climb.

Harry cursed to himself. The staircase was brightly lit and the ceiling was a good hundred feet above them. If there were others near the top, he would be seen. Harry wished he had his cloak with him. He swooped down and turned back into his human form. From there he peered out into the bright staircase. Katie was two floors up and still climbing. Harry watched her climb another, up to the seventh floor.

Thinking quickly, Harry decided on a course of action. Concentrating hard, he disappeared in a ball of flame, reappearing at the same time up near the ceiling. As he began to fall, his arms shortened and the feathers reappeared. In phoenix form, he pulled out of the dive, soaring into the darkness of the seventh floor passage.

He rose up towards the ceiling, having reacquired his prey. Soaring along in silence, he saw Katie stop. She stepped sideways into the shadows against the wall. Harry could still make her out. He dared not land, for she would hear the thud, and he couldn't disappear for the same reason. Had she heard him? She was looking back towards the stairwell. She knew someone was following her.

Harry soared past her and continued for another twenty metres before turning and coming back around. Katie still hadn't moved. She stood in the shadows, eyes fixed on the end of the passage where it joined the stairs. Harry glided silently by far above her and once again came about to fly back. As he passed her she stepped out of the shadows. She stood in the middle of the passage and then continued along the passage for three paces before turning. Had she changed her mind? Suddenly she turned again, pacing back and forth.

Suddenly, Harry realised where they were, and what she was doing. The Room of Requirement. His suspicions had been right: the DA was still running! She was going to give her lesson, albeit a bit late. Sure enough, the door had appeared and opened. He just had time to hear Katie say "Sorry I'm so late, guys," before the door shut and faded into nothingness.

Harry flew down and dropped to the floor, landing on his human feet. Standing up, he walked to the point where the door would appear. He could visualise the room as it had been when they had practiced when he had been in charge. He took one step forward, then froze.

I haven't been invited, he realised. They would want to know how he knew, whom he had told. They would think he was an Umbridge spy. They might even work out that he was not the Harry they used to know. Harry stepped away from the wall. No, he could not enter tonight. He wanted to see the DA, see how it was going, see if they were as good as his crew had been. Smiling to himself at the memory, Harry turned to leave.

I could get in, he thought to himself. But it's best to be invited.

He reached the stairs and began to descend, aiming for a passage that would lead him to the Tower.

So how do I get invited? he wondered. He was so deep in thought that he nearly walked into a suit of armour. He had plenty of time before curfew, but didn't want the attention.

"So how do I get an invite?" he muttered to himself. "They have to want me in there." Maybe he should show off - show what he could do. They would surely want to learn from that. Yes, but that would draw attention from Umbridge, Riddle, the Ministry, Grindelwald (whatever he was like) and who knew what else. No, that was not the way to go about it. He could hold back, just use simple spells - that way it would only seem like he was as good as the rest. But then again, that would show that he could take care of himself and not need any training. Hang on, that's it - he had to appear in need of training. He had to appear as if he could not handle himself. He needed to lose a fight!

"Right," he said to himself. "Where's Malfoy got to?"


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AUROR’S NOTES

There you go, another chapter in the bag. The plot is moving forward and bit now, and it will only accelerate.

If you are wondering why McLaggen was killed instead of Cedric, simply because he was too old at the time of the Tournament. He would have left Hogwarts by then. McClaggen is a seventh year and I won't loose any sleep over having him killed.

I hope you'll all join me in saying thank you to Kaitlyn who has been Betaing the chapters since...about SIAUL05 I think. Without all her hard work, this story could never have come this far. She is off to Uni this autumn, and so is retiring from the Betaing business. On behalf of everyone in the group: thanks, and good luck.

Jono

 

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