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A Stranger in the Promised Land Chapter V (part2)   

2009-07-17 18:40:32|  分类: HP转载 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Come five o’clock on the following Monday, two days after the meeting with Riddle, Harry was again lying on his bed with the curtains drawn, trying to get to sleep. He felt awful. The headache he’d had for the last few days was only getting worse, and now even Madam Pomfrey's pills were having no effect. His magic was failing because of it. His head had been pounding during Charms and his performance had been abysmal. They had been studying the disillusionment charm, which he was already able to do thanks to the Dark Knight. It wasn’t that he knew everything about it or could recite the theory, but when he thought about it for a moment, the incantation just seemed to come to him, and as he said it, the wand movement just seemed natural. Or at least, it would on any other day. Today in Charms, Harry hadn’t been able to manage it at all. He hadn’t even been able to produce a simple Summoning Charm as his rat scurried off the edge of his desk. In other words, Harry was feeling quite useless, and to top it all he had a RA meeting that evening, in which he was quite certain he would not be able to manage anything.

After dinner, Harry found himself an empty classroom in which to practice. The potions he had been given by Madam Pomfrey were now as good as worthless. He had taken some an hour ago, and they’d had no effect. He was now sweating most of the time he had noticed, which was unusual given that it was February in the Scottish mountains ? not the warmest of regions at the best of time. His head was constantly pounding as well, though he no longer felt sick. The point was that it was too much and he needed help ? tomorrow he would go to Pomfrey. Before that, he would test his magic.

He found an empty classroom on the third floor and shut the door behind him. He removed his robes and threw them over the chair. Suddenly free from his robes, the air felt so cold against his hot skin. Harry began to shiver. Ah, great, he thought, too hot with them on, too cold with them off. I can’t win. He chose to ignore the cold, and left his robes off while he removed a quill from the neatly organised pen?pot and placed it on the desk in front of him. He drew his wand from his pocket and aimed it at a quill. How ironic, he thought, that the first spell he had learned in Charms would now be such a challenge. God damn, Malfoy and his stupid curse. God damn flu. God Damn...whatever the Hell was wrong!

Forgetting Malfoy and focussing on the spell, Harry swished his wand and then flicked it at the quill.

Wingardium Leviosa!

The quill gave a feeble wobble and floated gently a few inches above the desk. It had worked, albeit very weakly. It hovered for nearly four seconds before dropping back to the desk. The small clang sounded like a gong to Harry's already throbbing head. Taking a deep breath to try and relieve the stress, Harry tried again. He aimed his wand at the quill once more, this time saying aloud the incantation as he cast the spell to turn it into a teaspoon. The quill turned a dull colour of silver and the stem became metallic, but the handle of the resulting spoon was rather feathery in appearance. Harry grimaced ? this was another spell he had learned during his first year of Transfiguration. He felt angry and frustrated with himself which only served to aggravate his head more.

Gripping his wand firmly, Harry tried again, this time managing to produce a complete spoon. It wasn't as bright and shiny as he had hoped, but the result was good enough to stir his tea. This, of course, was no comfort to Harry who should have been able to do it non?verbally with someone else's wand and using his left hand. Whatever curse or illness he had was draining his magic. This was getting ridiculous ? he would soon be no more than a Squib. Was that Malfoy's plan all along? Had his father found a way to turn a wizard into a Muggle and then told young Draco? For a moment a horrid thought crossed into his mind ? what if this truly did leave him without magic for the rest of his life?

This was too serious to put off any longer ? the thought of losing his magic completely was too much for Harry. It was time to swallow his pride.

Harry decided that it would be best to forego the RA this evening and head to the hospital wing. He wouldn’t be able to do magic anyway, and he needed to get himself fixed as soon as possible ? he had a Greek, no Turkish, island to visit after all. He didn’t know what to expect on that island and if his magic was on the blink and he couldn’t defend himself... it was not an enviable position to be in. No, he needed to be cured first, something that Madam Pomfrey would be able to deal with, he hoped. She would be able to fix his head, this time more permanently, and then she could work out what curse Malfoy had hit him with and a few potions later Harry would be right as rain. Then he could pop over to Tenedos, grab the key or whatever information he could, and pop back before...

Oh. That raised another point. If his magic was on the fritz, was his ability to transform or transport himself also not working?

Harry opened the door to the classroom and checked in either direction down the corridor. It was empty, which was lucky as this was a secret that definitely must stay that way. Harry closed the door and then concentrated on the other side of the room. Taking a deep breath, he felt the flames engulf him and the familiar whooshing sensation, like going down a vertical drop on a rollercoaster. He opened his eyes and found himself standing on the opposite side of the room. His head now hurt even more than it had done before, but he had managed it without fault, resulting in a grin appearing on his lips. It had hurt but it was working, which was the important thing.

Is it even possible to splinch myself doing that? he wondered, though he had no desire to find out. I may be as good as defenceless, but at least I can escape if need be.

Maybe the phoenix was too strong for this virus or curse to affect it. That thought gave Harry hope, for he knew that phoenixes were immune to most diseases, and that they had the power to heal other creatures. Maybe the power of the phoenix would overcome whatever curse this was and cure him. If it was doing that, however, it was taking too long for Harry's tastes ? he needed a quicker solution. He pocketed his wand and picked up his robes, throwing them over his shoulders, but did not fasten them up. Leaving the classroom, he began to head up towards the infirmary, rehearsing his story and working out how to avoid subjects he did not wish Pomfrey to know.

On the way up, Harry decided to pay a quick trip to the bathroom to sort himself out. Moving swiftly to the boy’s bathroom on the second floor, he pushed open the door. As luck would have it there was no one in there at the moment. He crossed to the sink and leaned over it, staring at himself in the mirror.

His usually pale skin was now looking white and clammy, which was odd given how hot he felt. His eyes seemed much dimmer than usual and he looked tired with bags hanging under them. You look like Hell, he told his reflection. Harry turned on the tap and splashed water over his face, trying to wash the fatigue and pain from his head. He wouldn't have been surprised if the water had boiled on contact with his skin, he felt that hot, but the drops merely ran down his face bringing a few seconds of blissful soothing before the heat returned. Feeling marginally more awake, Harry cupped his hands and filled them with water, which he sipped, allowing the icy water to cool his insides. He took two handfuls, before turning off the tap and drying his hands. Replacing his glasses and checking that the make?up concealing his scar was still in place, Harry turned to leave. He headed back out of the corridor, and towards the stairs. However, before he got the end, he heard an all too familiar voice.

"Are you sure, Professor?" asked Malfoy, his voice floating down the corridor. "I’ve passed it hundreds of time, but I’ve never seen a door there."

Harry instantly pressed himself into the wall, hiding in the shadows. He was almost at a junction and from the sound of the voices, Malfoy and whoever he was talking to, (though to Harry’s mind there was only professor it could be), were approaching from the left, heading towards the stairs. Their footsteps, or rather the clicking of the professor's heels, echoed off the walls, the regular marching beat of her paces growing closer and closer.

"Absolutely," said the familiar voice of Dolores Umbridge, her shrill tones bouncing off the stone walls like an echo in Harry’s mind.

He shrank further back into the shadows, making himself invisible from the intersecting corridor, but still able to hear the girly voice floating down the passage.

"I have been informed that the door will appear once you walk past it three times. They are all in there, all of them."

Harry’s heart skipped a beat ? they were taking about the Room of Requirement! The whole RA was gathered in there! Marietta had told Umbridge. Harry felt a sinking feeling in his stomach; they had been betrayed. He had known this was coming but... too soon, this was too soon. Harry cursed himself for not doing something about this, not that he had the faintest idea what he could have done. Secondly, he cursed Marietta for her terrible timing. If only she had chosen a night when he wasn't as useless as a chocolate fireguard!

"How many?" grunted a voice.

It was Crabbe, by Harry’s reckoning. As Harry pressed himself into the shadows, he pointed his wand at the torch on the wall which was close enough to perhaps give him away. He silently cast the spell to extinguish the light, but it merely flickered as if caught in a breeze and continued to burn.

Bugger!

Cursing, Harry ducked behind a suit of armour. His magic was as good as gone. Whatever he chose to do now, he would have to do the old fashioned way. His head had given another powerful throb as he had tried the spell but he forced himself to think beyond the pain. He had work to do.

"Over twenty," said Umbridge, sounding as if Christmas had come early. "Possibly thirty. Now, the Minister is on the way with Aurors, so we just need to keep them from escaping. Where are the rest of you?"

"I sent Goyle to fetch them," announced Malfoy, as the party appeared at the end of the passage. "He’ll be back soon." They passed the intersection without looking sideways, their attention on Umbridge and hers on the corridor ahead. In her mind she was probably rehearsing what she would say when she arrested Riddle. For a second, Harry felt a glimmer of pity for the Headmaster. Harry forced the though aside, and tried to think beyond the pain in his head, to think rationally as the Dark Knight would. Umbridge was gathering the Inquisitorial Squad together, ready to battle the RA. It seemed that this repetition of the fall of the DA would be more violent than the last. This was made worse since Harry was unable to do anything in his current state. It was almost as if Malfoy had planned this.

No, that was useless conjecture ? focus on the problem at hand, he told himself.

"Right," said Umbridge as if she were a general. "Draco, you take three and head along past the kitchens and up the east stairs, approaching from the east side. Theodore, if you head up the north with another four, I’ll take the south. Those are the quickest ways back to their common rooms. If they head west, they will be trapped in the West Tower and to leave they must pass through the west staircase to rejoin the rest of the castle. Zabini will take two and wait there for them."

"Yes, Professor," chorused several voices.

Harry slipped out from behind the armour, crept to the end of the passage, and peered around the corner to see the group of Slytherins twenty metres on organising themselves.

Jesus Christ, breathed Harry. Umbridge was coming. Communal detentions with the Blood Quill, Umbridge in complete control, and the only glimmer of hope removed. Hell in Hogwarts. He had lived through it once, and had no desire for a repeat ? both for himself and for Katie to live through. He had known all this was going to happen, but he hadn’t expected it to happen to soon. He had to warn Katie!

Harry summoned up his strength, to use the only skill still available to him. In a ball of flame he disappeared, reappearing instantly outside the Room of Requirement. Thank God something still worked.

He quickly walked past the door three times, concentrating hard, and then wrenched open the door when it materialised and charged in. The meeting was in full sing and the room was alive with spell work. Coloured jets of light shot around the room like fireworks. Harry looked around, desperately trying to find the leader amid the web of rainbows and the shouts of spells.

There!

"KATIE!" shouted Harry above the din, charging through the middle of a duel, missing the spell by inches. His head pounded with every step but he pressed on, hurtling through another duel. The girl in question was in the middle of demonstrating something to Terry Boot but looked up as he bellowed her name.

"Hi, what kept you?" she asked, matter?of?factly before noticing his sickened face and obvious fluster. Her smile vanished in an instant.

"Umbridge knows," panted Harry, aware that the entire room was silent. The tiredness assaulted every muscle in his body and his lungs felt tight. Harry bent forward, resting his hands on his knees, trying to get his breath. "We’re compromised, she’s on her way."

Before he could say anything else, there was a wand in his face and he could see several more rising to face him as well.

"What?" he asked, looking Katie in the eyes. She was slowly turning red, and looked livid. Her nostrils flared and her jaw was clenched. In truth, she was quite cute when she was angry, but Harry didn’t dwell on it. He rose back up to his full height, raising his palms in surrender.

"You!" she seethed, her wand hand visibly shook with rage as she levelled it at Harry's chest. "You told her!"

Harry was ever more aware that he had no way to defend himself at this point, short of actually punching the girl. There were also several other wands aimed at him. However he didn't want to fight with them, he wanted them to all get out and run. Also, how dare she accuse him of betrayal, him of all people? It was indignity more than fear that prompted his next move.

"Would I come here if I had just betrayed you?" he said angrily. "Who else isn’t here?"

Harry looked around, trying to find Marietta amid the mass of students.

"We should never have let you join," Katie snarled looking livid and drawing Harry back from his search. "I knew you were trouble. You’ve been lying from day one."

Harry grimaced, knowing that there was more truth to this that she was aware. This was not the time to justify his lies, or attempt to convince her had had not been deliberately trying to deceive her. They needed to evacuate the room. Instead of arguing with Katie, Harry turned to another member of the RA who stood nearby.

"Hermione," he said firmly. "Look at my face. I am not the sneak. Tell her it wasn’t me!"

Her eyes went wide in surprise as the words. Harry continued to stare as Hermione recovered from her flustered surprise and nodded at him.

"What the hell is he on about?" snapped Katie, looking from Hermione to Harry and back.

"The parchment," Hermione replied, never taking her eyes off Harry. Her eyebrows were furrowed and she looked suspicious. "You know the jinx I put on it. That means anyone who signed it and then told Umbridge would be covered in boils. But not just covered, they would spell a word across their face. It wasn’t him, Katie."

Harry breathed a sigh of relief as Hermione backed him up, though it didn't seem to have gotten him off the hook for Katie's wand was still pointed at his chest. It was not her that spoke next, however.

"You tricked us with the parchment!" called out Zacharias Smith angrily. Harry saw that the snooty blond boy was glaring at Hermione.

"Yes," said Hermione shamelessly, "But I never told anyone what the curse actually did. How do you know about 'sneak', Harry?"

Harry opened his mouth to tell her that he was not the issue here, but Smith got there first.

"Never mind that," snapped the Hufflepuff. "You tricked us into signing a jinxed parchment and didn’t tell anyone!"

"Well if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to be worried about," shot back Hermione, folding her arms.

"What right do you have to..." began Smith, his arms crossed and his nose in the air.

Harry had had enough ? they had wasted too much time!

"SHUT UP!" he bellowed loudly.

Instantly there was silence as the room froze and stared at him. Harry paused. A wave of nausea had hit him just as he had shouted. He swallowed it down and shook his head to clear the weariness. Part of him wanted to give the order, but this wasn't his army. He turned back to the leader.

"Katie, whatever you think of me we can argue this later, but Umbridge is coming with her Slytherin minions and they are ready for a fight. I heard her on the stairs, which means you only have a couple of minutes. We need to go, now!"

There was no denying that he spoke the truth, and no point in arguing any more. They had to escape. Katie hesitated for a fraction of a second before raising her voice. "You heard him, back to common rooms. MOVE IT!"

Instantly a mad scuffle broke out as everyone tried to recover their belongings and get to the door. There was already a bundle forming as everyone push to get out. The Room was equal to the task; the door stretched before their eyes to allow more people to get out. It was like a cascade of bodies gushing into the corridor, like a tsunami as the door expanded and opened. No doubt Umbridge would hear that racket a mile away and start running. Harry groaned inwardly. They had so little time.

Which way to go? All directions were covered. Which was weakest?

West, answered the Dark Knight. It was there best chance, as it only had three people covering a staircase that spanned eight floors. There were more than three people in the RA, so in theory it was more likely they would make it back. That was if they even encountered the Slytherins. There was no telling on which floor the RA would cross the staircase back into the central part of the castle, and so there was a chance that they would never encounter Zabini at all, and even if they did, there was safety in numbers. The west was definitely the best choice.

"TURN LEFT!" shouted Harry above the din. "Into the West Tower! They don’t expect you to come from there. Head down to the lower levels then move across and up. Watch out for Zabini and the others. There are three of them covering that route according to what I overheard."

Confident they would escape, Harry’s attention shifted back to those who remained. He turned to Hermione as Ron and Neville headed for the door.

"Grab the list. No evidence."

She nodded and darted off to get it. Harry would not make the same mistake he had last time. This time, Umbridge would have no evidence to parade before Riddle.

Hermione had the list, but still they needed a distraction ? something to keep Umbridge and the Inquisitorial Squad occupied. They needed every advantage they could get in the escape. His head gave another powerful throb but he shook it off, trying to think past the pain. It seemed to work as an idea formed in his head, courtesy of Fred and George ? Harry knew what to do.

He concentrated hard, imagining a large quantity of fireworks. The twins weren’t here this year for a fantastic exit, so it was time for someone else to cause a big bang. Looking around, Harry suddenly spied two large boxes of wet?start fireworks. Excellent. He grabbed a jug of water, which has also appeared, and placed it on the shelf above the two boxes dangerously close to the edge. He then opened the lids of the boxes, revealing the fuses.

"What are you doing?" asked Katie as the last of the students left. Harry turned to see Katie, Neville, Hermione, and Ron and Ginny waiting by the door, looking desperately at him to follow.

"Buying us time," he replied. He found some string on another shelf and wrapped it around the handle of the jug of water. Then, uncoiling the string as he went, he crossed to the door making sure not to dislodge the jug. They all slipped out into the corridor except for Harry. He stepped out carefully and closed the door a fraction, leaving enough room for him to reach inside. Fastening the string to the handle of the door, which luckily ? or probably because Harry had requested it ? opened outwards, he closed the door, confident that his booby?trap would work. As soon as someone opened the door, they would pull the jug off the shelf and onto the boxes. The water would light the fuses and five second later the RA would go out with a bang.

Just as Harry shut the door running footsteps sounded down the corridor. Someone was coming ? he had finished just in time.

"Run!" hissed Katie.

The five of them turned and sprinted towards the West Tower. Harry rounded the corner, just as Malfoy arrived outside the room of requirement. He vaguely heard Malfoy shout 'check the room' to his companion before the unmistakable sound of pursuit.

"Keep going!" Harry yelled as they ran. His heart was pounding nearly as loudly as his head as he ran. His energy was drained and he knew he couldn't go on much longer. He had to escape! Digging deeper he found the energy to keep going, hot on Katie's heels.

It was another few seconds before he heard a tremendous bang.

The whole castle shook as two large boxes of fireworks went off at once. The first boom was still ringing in their ears when what sounded to Harry like machinegun fire crackled down the hallways.

The fleeing RA turned another corner and arrived at the stairs, the constant barrage of fireworks still sounding in their ears. Ron immediate jumped up them three at a time, but the others stopped as Katie held out her arms to block them. Harry checked behind them. He couldn't see a pursuer yet, but knew they were not far behind.

"We can't wait," said Ron, noticing that they had stopped. "We have to get back!"

"No!" called Katie, casting a look over her shoulder, checking for pursuers. "We should go down. She will expect us to go up towards the tower."

"Katie’s right," said Neville, "it's too obvious".

"If she's going to be guarding the tower, then we have to get there first and plead innocence," said Ron, his face flustered from the running.

"No," interrupted Katie. "They’ll have blocked the entrance already."

"Brooms," suggested Neville. "In through the windows."

"We can’t fly!" gasped Hermione, looking uneasy. She looked back and forth between Neville and Katie, hoping one of them would say it was just a joke.

"Yes we can," said Katie, nodding. "We have to. We need to get to the broom cupboard by Hooch's office. Quickly."

She shot past Neville, heading down the stairs.

"Harry!" gasped Hermione.

Harry’s legs had buckled out from under him. He was covered in a cold sweat despite having a fever, and his head was splitting. His stomach felt tight and bloated making him feel sick, and his vision was blurring in addition to his limbs feeling strangely numb. All his energy seemed to have drained. Harry had fallen against the wall and slid down it, coming to rest in a sitting position.

"Come on!" said Katie, having run back up to join them. "We can't stay here."

Harry felt hands take hold of his shoulders as she and Neville hoisted him back to his feet. His legs didn't seem to want to work. He stood shakily for a second, hoping his legs didn't give way again.

"Can you run?" asked Ron.

"I can try," said Harry determinedly biting back the pain. This was no flu, this was a curse. What the hell had Malfoy done to him? Did he really think he could get away with this? Maybe he should just change direction and head for the hospital wing. They were near enough.

"THEY’RE DOWN HERE!" called a shrill voice suddenly from above them.

Well that put a stopper in that idea, thought Harry. They had to move. The infirmary seemed to be blocked as well by the direction of the shriek.

"Parkinson!" hissed Hermione, glancing up in the direction of the voice.

"RUN!" hissed Katie, taking off down the stairs.

Stumbling after the others, Harry ran as best he could downwards, away from the voice. He descended two floors before heading into a passage, hot on the heels of the person in front. They ran along and Harry struggled to keep up. Neville kept throwing glances over his shoulder, checking that Harry was still with them.

Suddenly they reached a junction in the corridor. Just by listening, it seems that there were people coming from all directions. Harry tried to catch his breath, but he only felt more ill. He had no energy left. Part of him wanted to turn himself in just so he didn't have to run anymore. Katie, on the other hand, was nowhere near submitting.

"Split up," she ordered. "Harry with me, you three go! Get brooms and meet back at the tower!"

Harry gritted his teeth, trying to fight the pain as he followed Katie around to the left as the others turned right. Stubbornly he struggled on, managing to keep pace with Katie but only just. They came to the end of the passage as it opened up into another staircase. To their horror, two Slytherins immerged from the next floor down, wands raised up towards them. Harry reacted quickly, and in absence of magic did the only thing left. He dived at the Slytherins as they charged up the stairs, hurling his body into the air.

One ran straight into a stunner from Katie while the other, Zabini, ran straight into Harry as he hurtled through the air. The boy lost his balance as Harry crashed into him and they both fell backwards, Harry landing awkwardly on two hands, a foot and a knee as the Slytherin tumbled away beneath him. Zabini tried to get back up looking livid and cursing loudly, but he quickly fell to a Stunner from Katie.

Harry glanced up at her and she simply nodded before heading off again. There was no time for thanks or anything ? they had to keep going. They charged along a darkened passage, so close to the brooms now. There was no sign of Ron and the others. Where were they?

"AHH!"

Harry’s legs suddenly locked together as he ran and fell flat on his face. He tumbled to the ground and rolled as Katie charged past him. Harry turned back to look, just as another curse shot past his ear.

Trip jinx! That’s twice! he thought angrily. Katie had stopped a few paces down the passage and was looking back at him.

"GO!" shouted Harry, turning left into another passage.

The good thing about castles was that they were huge. If you can get lost in one, you can certainly lose someone in one. Harry hobbled up the passage, pausing at the second portrait on the left. It was a secret passage he had discovered from the Marauder’s Map. The portrait swung open and Harry was faced with the spiral stairs. He grabbed the banister and began to haul himself up the narrow stairwell as the portrait swung closed behind him. His limbs burned with the exertion, his head pounded from the effort and he felt as if he was going to be sick any minute.

He reached the top of the stairs and burst out of a portrait into a corridor which was thankfully deserted. He headed left for twenty metres and up another set of spiralling stairs towards the Astronomy Tower. His energy was depleted, his head pounded, his stomach was in knots, and his breathing was becoming difficult. What was happening? He felt so hot, so stuffy. He was having trouble breathing. He needed air!

With one final, fruitless effort he crashed against the wooden door that led out onto the roof of the tower. The door held fast, and he fell backwards, cursing loudly as he did. He yanked the doorknob hard, but it didn’t move. He pulled again, harder, as hard as he could, but still no avail. The door was not budging. He gave it a kick in frustration.

Ahh!

Harry’s knees buckled again and he crashed to the floor on the spiral staircase, leaning against the door in the darkness. There was no light on the stairs and he was completely hidden, but also completely alone.

I’m dying, he realised.

Oh damn his pride. He should have gone to Pomfrey earlier and then back again when it didn’t clear. He should have given it a rest and recovered. His heart was pounding in his chest so loudly he was sure it would lead the Inquisitorial Squad right to him.

His breath was becoming fast and rattling as he gasped for air. Harry’s head lopped onto his chest and his eyelids grew heavy. This was it.

Suddenly he noticed something odd. His hands were not only hot, but they were glowing in the dark. Not enough to see by, but a very faint orange glow. He felt so hot. Was he hallucinating? No, his hands, his arms, his skin really was glowing. Without reason his chest suddenly clamped tight as he sucked in his last breath. He felt a surge of power inside him, as if a dam has just burst and then it came rushing out in droves. The power forced its way to every cell in his body, completely consuming him.

And then Harry Potter burst into flames.

~~~~ + ~~~~

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