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Time to take a chance » Surprise!
Time to take a chance (ATP)
Por Martuki7
Escrita el Miércoles 20 de Marzo de 2019, 20:02
Actualizada el Miércoles 20 de Marzo de 2019, 20:04
[ Más información ]

Surprise!

Capítulos
  1. Surprise!

Hello, everyone! Well, I'm from Spain and this is the first time I publish a story in English so I'm sorry for any grammatical or spelling mistake, but I really wanted to try to do this.
This isn't the first story I've begun about reading the books of Harry Potter, but the other one is written in Spanish. It's called 'Leyendo la vida del chico de la cicatriz del rayo' and I've been working on it for a long time now. The problem is that I started it without knowing where I wanted to go with it and I've wanted to change so many things for a while. So, I decided to rewrite it and I thought, 'Hey, why don't I try to write it in both English and Spanish? It can't hurt to try', so, yeah, here you go.
I hope you enjoy it!

Disclaimer: All the text in bold and the characters belong to J. K. Rowling. This is just a story written by a fan who doesn't get any kind of compensation for it except for a few reviews from time to time.


Time to take a chance

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Surprise!

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Time is arnvery curious thing.

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Timernsometimes feels like it flows too fast while other times it feels like it takesrnforever for another grain of sand to fall in an hourglass. Time changes yourrnperception of things. The time when an event takes place can change a lot ofrnthings and have a lot of consequences.

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Perhapsrnthat was the next events in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry wouldrntake place that night instead of years earlier or much later, once everythingrnhad come to pass. Had they happened later, it would have been for nothing, butrnit would have done more harm than good if they had happened earlier.

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Of course,rnnone of the wizards and witches currently in the Great Hall knew that nor thatrnsomething unexpected was going to happen. How could they? They only knew thatrnthat year was going to be special with the Triwizard Tournament and its threernchampions were going to be chosen any moment now. The students were all waitingrnimpatiently for Dumbledore to finish his dinner, many of them sending glancesrnat the blue-white flames of the Goblet of Fire.

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What theyrnweren't expecting was for the Great Hall to suddenly be filled with a flash ofrnlight that blinded everyone. When the bright spots disappeared from everyone'srneyes, they couldn't see anything out of order. Everybody was on their feet withrntheir wands ready to defend themselves, but nothing more than that.

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Well, therernwas one thing…

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"Whatrnthe…?" A voice carried through the Great Hall, making many heads turn in thatrndirection. It belonged to a boy with unruly black hair and round glasses thatrnthey all knew. "A package? I receive a package now?"

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"Mr. Potter?"rnThe headmaster prompted, his blue eyes sharp and the twinkle that was usuallyrnin them completely gone.

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"This hasrnappeared, Professor," Harry said, poking the cardboard box with his wand warily.

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"It hasrnyour name on it," Hermione said, eyeing the top where 'Harry James Potter' wasrnwritten with a somewhat familiar chicken scribble. She knew it from somewherernbut she couldn't quite put her finger on where.

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Dumbledorernquickly walked over to the Gryffindor table, the students parting to allow himrnto get close to the box. He was followed closely behind by McGonagall, Snape,rnMoody, Crouch, Bagman, Karkaroff and Madame Maxime while the other professorsrntried to maintain a minimum of order as whispers spread across the studentrnbody.

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"Mr.rnPotter, everyone, step back," McGonagall ordered immediately. Her studentsrnquickly hurried to obey, knowing better than to ignore her orders when shernsounded like that.

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The oldrnheadmaster waved his wand over the box in complicated motions, whispering underrnhis breath and frowning in confusion when nothing happened.

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"I don'trnthink it has any harmful hex or charm on it," he said after a while. He hadrnchecked in every way he knew how to do it and all the results had come backrnnegative. He reached out with a hand, keeping his wand ready just in case, andrntried to open the box. To his bafflement, it remained firmly shut.

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"Somezingrnwrong, Dumbly-dorr?" Madame Maxime asked sharply as she eyed the boxrnmistrustfully. She had taken care to position herself between the box and thernstudents from her school, which were two tables away.

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"Notrnreally," the headmaster said pensively. "I can't open the box."

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"I thinkrnthat counts as something wrong, Dumbledore," Karkaroff snarked impatiently.

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"Maybe not,rnif I'm not the one who's meant to open it," Dumbledore said, turning his gazerntowards Harry. The boy was standing a couple of feet away, next to his friendsrnand the other Gryffindors who had been ushered away by their head of house.

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Harryrnblinked startled when he found himself the focus of a pair of twinkling bluerneyes. "Me?" He blurted out shocked, pointing at himself. He looked behind him,rnhalf hoping that the old man was looking at someone else.

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"You want arnschool boy to open a box with unknown contents that had appeared out of nowherernin the middle of your school, Albus?" Crouch asked, not looking too happy withrnthe prospect.

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"It has hisrnname on it, Barty. It was clearly meant for him," Dumbledore nodded. "It standsrnto reason that whoever went to such lengths to send him this package, managing tornbypass the wards around the castle, would make sure that he would be the onlyrnone able to reveal its contents."

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"Bloodyrnfantastic," the boy cursed under his breath. This was the last thing he needed.rnHe had just wanted to see who the champions were and celebrate with hisrnfriends, trying to guess what they would have to face.

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"C'mon,rnmate," Ron said, clapping his shoulder in support. "Better get it over with."

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"That'srneasy for you to say," Harry huffed, tightening his grip on his wand as hernwalked closer.

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He closedrnthe distance to the box and opened it without problem. There wasn't any kind ofrnmystical glow or anything. He didn't know what had stopped Dumbledore fromrnopening it, but he felt nothing. He looked inside apprehensively, halfrnexpecting to see something horrible and half expecting to see a treasure. Thernlast thing he thought he would see was…

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"Books?" Hernexclaimed. "They've sent me books?"

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"What kindrnof books?" Hermione asked curiously as she peeked over his shoulder.

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"I'm notrnsure. It says…" Harry grabbed the one that was on top, a red one, and looked atrnthe cover, trailing off as he read the title. "Harry Potter and…"

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"And?" Moodyrnsnapped when he didn't continue.

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"I don'trnknow," Harry frowned, turning the book around to show it to them. "It's allrnblurry. I can't read it." It reminded him of how he saw when he didn't have hisrnglasses.

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"All thernbooks are like that," Ron said, pulling them out of the box and inspecting arndark blue one. They were all in different widths and colours, but the title wasrnthe same one.

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"Andrnthey're all blank," Dumbledore observed, having opened a purple one. Snape wasrnexamining a green one and McGonagall was frowning at the one in her hands, a blackrnone with the title in white.

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If he wasrnhonest with himself, Harry was glad about that. With that title, it was likelyrnthat those books were about him and that creeped the hell out of him. He didn'trnwant any books —any more books, at least— written about him. He was mentionedrnin too many of them already and he didn't like it.

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"What is zernmeaning of zis, Dumbly-dorr?" Madame Maxime asked, beginning to look cross asrnshe flicked through the pages of an orange book and found it totally blank,rntoo.

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"Does thisrnhave anything to do with the Tournament?" Karkaroff asked with a frown. He wasrnstaring at a thick pink book with an expression of distaste.

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"Nothing,"rnLudo Bagman said, looking more interested than wary.

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"We havernnot planned this, Karkaroff," Crouch assured him. "This is not our doing."

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"What arernwe supposed to do, then?" McGonagall asked puzzled.

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"There'srnsomething else, Professor," Hermione said. She was looking inside the box,rnwhich was now empty save for an envelope. "It has your name on it, too," shernsaid, handing it to Harry.

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The boyrnstared at it half annoyed and half scared. What was going on? What were thosernbooks? Who had sent them? Why had they sent them? He guessed that staring atrnhis name scrawled with a weirdly familiar handwriting wasn't going to give himrnthe answers.

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"Should Irnread it aloud, professor?" He asked tiredly as he tore it open.

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"Please,rnMr. Potter," Dumbledore nodded.

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Hello, Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons,

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This may come to a shock to most of you andrnmany won't like what we're going to say. Well, too bad. This is more importantrnthan that Tournament that's just beginning.

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First things first, you're about to receive arnfew guests, some of which you'll know, some of which you won't. There's onernthing that you must know and it's that NONE OF THEM is to harmed in any way.

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"Guests?"rnKarkaroff interrupted. "What guests?"

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Anotherrnflash of light cut off any answer he may have received. When the light vanishedrnonce more, it left in its wake several people, all of them vastly different.

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"I thinkrnit's talking about those guests," Dumbledore said conversationally.

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"SIRIUSrnBLACK!" Mrs. Weasley shrieked as she jumped away from the man she had appearedrnnext to. Her husband pulled her back, away from the murderer, and stood inrnfront of her and his oldest sons.

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There was arnwhirlwind of chaos as the students panicked, the adults pulled out their wandsrnagain and a startled fugitive tried to figure out how to escape.

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"Arrestrnhim!" Crouch shouted, prompting Moody, a tall black wizard and a young witchrnwith bright pink hair to lunge for him.

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"NO!" Arnvoice shouted before they could reach him. A blur shot past them and stood inrnfront of the startled murderer.

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"Potter,rnmove aside!" Moody barked sharply, the tip of his wand shining ominously.

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Harryrnglared back, not willing to give in. "No way. He's innocent," he declaredrnfirmly.

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"Harry, getrnout of here," Sirius urged him. He tried to push his godson away, but the childrnwas stubborn and he refused to budge.

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"I'm notrngonna let them take you away and give you the Kiss, Sirius," Harry said,rnignoring the rising panic in his chest. Why had his godfather appeared in thernmiddle of the Great Hall? What was whoever had sent him the package playing at?rnDid they want him dead or something?

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"Potter,rnstop being a brat and let the aurors do their job," Snape sneered, a hint ofrntriumph in his black eyes.

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"He'srninnocent," Harry repeated.

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"I didn'trnknow you allowed this kind of defiance in your school, Dumbledore," Karkaroffrnmocked.

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"It is certainlyrnunbecoming," Madame Maxime scoffed, turning up her nose.

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"Mr.rnPotter, if you don't step aside this instant, you'll be arrested for conspiringrnwith a known fugitive and resisting against the authority," Crouch warned.

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"Harry,rnstep aside," Sirius ordered more urgently. The last thing he wanted was for hisrngodson to get into trouble for him.

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"No," Harryrnshook his head. "I can prove that you're innocent. We can tell them whatrnhappened last year. Maybe they'll believe us, unlike Fudge."

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"What aboutrnthe Minister?" The tall black wizard asked, not lowering his wand, but lookingrnreluctant to hex a child.

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Seeing thisrnman a bit more willing to listen, Harry sized the chance and hurried tornexplain. "We tried to tell him last year that Sirius didn't murder those peoplernthirteen years ago, but he refused to listen to us."

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"Potter,rnthat's a very dangerous man you're trying to protect. He's done things yourndon't know," Crouch said warningly.

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"I do knowrnthem," Harry argued back. "I know he's accused for having betrayed my parents andrnhaving handed them over to Voldemort," he snapped, ignoring the shudder thatrnspread across the Great Hall like a ripple and the squeak of the youngerrnstudents. "And for having murdered Peter Pettigrew and twelve muggles thirteenrnyears ago."

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"How do yournknow that?" Crouch asked, eyes narrowed. As far as he knew, everyone had agreedrnthe year before that the less the Potter boy knew about that, the better forrnhis own sake.

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"I have arnknack for finding out things on accident," Harry replied. "Just like I foundrnout that Sirius didn't do any of those things."

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"Thernbiggest piece we found of Peter Pettigrew was a finger. I highly doubted thatrnhe could be alive after that," Crouch argued.

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"Excuse me,rnsir," Hermione intervened as Ron and she walked over to Harry and stood onrneither side of him, making their loyalties known. "But I think that would bernthe first clue that something isn't right with the story you believe. What kindrnof curse would be able to do that? Even with the most powerful explosion, therernshould have been something else left behind, not just a finger."

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That made arnfew people hesitate. It was true. Explosions left a mess behind, not just arnfinger.

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"We canrnprovide memories," Remus said, coming out of his shock and standing next tornSirius.

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"You werernthere when Potter supposedly found out the truth about those events?" Crouchrnasked, eyebrow raised.

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"Yes, sir.rnI'm Remus Lupin. I was a close friend of the Potters and I was a teacher herernlast year," the werewolf nodded. "I would be willing to testify underrnVeritaserum to tell what happened."

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"Thatrnwouldn't be a bad idea," the tall black wizard mused pensively, even as herndidn't let up his alert stance.

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Crouchrnpursed his lips. "Maybe," he conceded. He knew that he hadn't given this manrnthe trial that he legally deserved.

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"I havernVeritaserum in my office," Snape offered. "I could go fetch it right now."

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"What aboutrnthe Tournament?" A girl from Beauxbatons asked.

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It madernmany heads turn towards the blue-white flames. They had completely forgottenrnthat a historical event was supposed to take place any minute.

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"Should notrnsomezing 'ave 'appened by now?" Madame Maxime asked with a confused frown.rnUnless they had timed it completely wrong, the Goblet should have already spatrnthe names of the three champions.

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Dumbledorernfrowned. "Yes, it should have."

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"What'srngoing on here?" Karkaroff demanded.

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"We canrnfind out after we've dealt with Black," Crouch stated firmly, barely taking hisrneyes off the fugitive.

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"Ifrnsomething has tampered with the Goblet of Fire, it has to be something serious,rnBarty," Dumbledore intervened. "It's not something we can leave for later."

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"And arnmurderer is?" The man asked incredulously.

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"This isrnmore important, Bartemius," McGonagall said impatiently. "Someone has sentrnPotter a box with some books and has then brought all these people to Hogwartsrnwhen you know very well that it's impossible to apparate in here. And then thernGoblet, a powerful magical artefact, starts malfunctioning. Don't you think itrncould be related to the box and the books?"

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"Well said,rnMinerva," Dumbledore said with a tiny smile.

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"We shouldrnarrest Black and keep him in custody at least," Crouch insisted stubbornly.

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"And wherernwould I go without someone noticing?" Sirius couldn't suppress the urge to ask,rnhis voice dripping his sarcasm. He waved a hand around him. "Think I could sliprnunnoticed past hundreds of students, two aurors, a paranoid ex-auror and twornofficers from the Ministry?"

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"We're notrntaking any chances, Black," Crouch snapped.

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Remusrnnudged his childhood friend before he could reply. "Just give them your wand,rnSirius. This could be your only chance to get a trial and be free," he saidrnpleadingly.

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That shutrnup the animagus rather quickly. With a sigh, he drew his wand and handed it tornthe pink-haired witch. "There. Better now?" He asked, feeling naked andrnunprotected without the wand he had been able to procure just a couple of weeksrnbefore. It may not be as good as the one that had chosen him in Ollivander'srnshop when he was eleven, but it was his only defence.

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"Much,"rnCrouch snapped. "Dumbledore, get on with this."

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"Mr.rnPotter, if you could please continue reading the letter…" The headmasterrnprompted, looking pointedly at the parchment still held in the teenager's hand.

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Harry hadrnrelaxed as he heard that they were going to give Sirius a chance. With a bit (arnlot) of luck, his godfather would be free and he would be able to go live withrnhim, but he hardly dared to hope. He had got his hopes up the year before onlyrnto have them trashed.

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He wasrnstill standing in front of Sirius with his wand in his hand, but he was nornlonger ready to attack or defend his godfather. Maybe, just maybe, whoever hadrnwritten him this letter had known what they were doing when they had broughtrnSirius here.

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Well, that was exciting, wasn't it? Just inrncase, it is true that Sirius Black is innocent and you will find the proof yournneed in the third of the books. Don't bother trying to read it now. It willrnremain blank until the moment is right.

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Dumbledore, you may want to go to AlastorrnMoody's office and open his trunk. You're going to find a surprise there. And,rnCrouch, we know that you're itching to arrest someone, so we're giving you arnreal culprit and a chance to mend your mistake. Start with the imposter poisingrnas an ex-auror next to you.

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"This hasrnto be some joke!" Moody roared incensed, his magical eye turning in everyrndirection.

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"Alastor?"rnDumbledore asked sharply, his voice icy as he stared at whom he considered arngood friend.

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"Albus,rnthis is nonsense!"

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"Is it?"rnThe headmaster asked calmly, his wand ready in his hand but pointing at thernfloor. "Everything else the letter has said is surprisingly true. I find littlernreason not to believe it now."

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"Moody,rnhand over your wand," Crouch ordered firmly, but his eyes were filled withrndread.

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For arnminute, nobody moved. The students had backed away from the confrontation theyrncould feel coming and Sirius, Remus and the Weasleys had pulled Harry, Ron andrnHermione back. That left only the supposed imposter surrounded by the teachersrnand the officers from the Ministry, all of them with their wands ready.

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With arndesperate roar, Moody raised his wand and a bright red light shot out of it.rnThankfully, Dumbledore waved his wand in a big circle that made a shield appearrnand absorb the curse before it could harm any of the students. Not even thirtyrnseconds later, the now-clearly-imposter was unconscious on the floor.

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"Check hisrnpockets," Crouch ordered.

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The tallrnblack wizard stepped forward to do that, pulling out the flask that Moodyrncarried everywhere. One sniff at its contents had him reeling back with arngrimace.

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"PolyjuicernPotion," he said, standing up again. "I think this is enough proof that thisrnman is not Alastor Moody."

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"Then wherernis the real one?" The pink-haired witch asked, frowning in concern. She wasrnclearly close to the ex-auror, the real one at least.

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"Therntrunk," Dumbledore realised with wide eyes as he remembered what the letterrnsaid. "It said I would find a surprise in Alastor's trunk."

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"Thernimposter would have to keep him close to keep making the potion," Snape saidrnthrough gritted teeth.

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"Severus,rnPoppy, with me," Dumbledore said immediately as he marched out of the GreatrnHall with long strides.

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"Dumbly-dorr,rn'old on a second," Madame Maxime demanded. "What about zis man?"

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"He'll bernback to normal in an hour at most and we'll hopefully be back long before thatrnwith the real Alastor Moody with us," the old man said, barely slowing down atrnall. Before someone else could argue, he was gone.

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"For thernlove of…" Karkaroff swore infuriated. "He's the one that said that we shouldrnfigure out what's going on with those damn books and the Goblet first and nowrnhe's gone."

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"Honestly,rnIgor, Alastor's life could be in danger," McGonagall snapped, having littlernpatience for the man's whines at the moment. She was keeping an eye on the manrnthat Flitwick was tying up after checking for emergency portkeys so he couldn'trnescape.

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"Maybe wernshould send the students to their common rooms, Minerva," Professor Sprout saidrngrimly. She didn't like having the children witnessing these events. They werernthings that no child should have to worry about.

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"Yeah,rnyou're right, Pomona," the head of Gryffindor nodded.

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"I'm notrnsure if sending the students away is the best idea right now," Flitwick saidrnwith a serious expression. "We've already found an imposter among us, somernpowerful magic has tampered with the Goblet and that letter that seems to knowrntoo much… I'd prefer to have all the students where we could keep an eye onrnthem. It would be easier to protect them if they're all in the same place."

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McGonagallrnsighed troubled. Why had this had to happen? Filius had a good point. Besides,rnshe had the feeling that they wouldn't be able to send at least Harry to therncommon room since the damn box was sent to him. And it wouldn't be fair tornsingle him out again, or more like single him out even more.

rnrn

 

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Speaking ofrnHarry…

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"Sirius,"rnthe boy said, turning around to look at his godfather in relief. "How are yournhere?"

rnrn

 

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"You tellrnme," the animagus said. "I was hiding and I had no intention of enteringrnHogwarts."

rnrn

 

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"I don'trnknow what's happening," Harry said anxiously. "This, this box appeared out ofrnnowhere and the letter said that we were going to have guests and…"

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"Harry,"rnHermione interrupted him, laying a hand on his arm. "It's okay. This may be arngood thing."

rnrn

 

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"Then whyrndo I have such a bad feeling about all this?" Harry replied.

rnrn

 

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Hermionernbit her lip. "I don't know. But whatever happens, at least this has givenrnSirius a chance."

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"Ron!" Arnvoice interrupted them. Mrs. Weasley was storming towards them with arnthunderous expression. "What were you thinking? What were all of you thinking?!rnHow could you protect a murderer from the Ministry?!"

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"Mum, he'srninnocent!" Ron protested.

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"How wouldrnyou know that?!" His mother shrieked.

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"We foundrnout last year!" Ron said, his ears turning red. "And the letter has said so,rntoo!"

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"We don'trneven know who has sent that letter!" She argued.

rnrn

 

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"Mrs.rnWeasley, they were still right about Moody," Harry dared to say. He couldn'trnlet his best friend stand up for his godfather on his own.

rnrn

 

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Her angerrnfaltered. "That's not enough proof…"

rnrn

 

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"But it'srnenough to raise some doubts about Sirius' innocence, isn't it?" Harry pressedrnon.

rnrn

 

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"Mrs.rnWeasley, they're telling the truth," Remus said tiredly. "I was with them lastrnyear when they found out. Sirius is innocent."

rnrn

 

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Mrs.rnWeasley hesitated before her resolve strengthened. "I want to know the wholerntruth. Now," she demanded.

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They knewrnbetter than to anger the redheaded woman. They were ready to spill everythingrnwhen a yell interrupted them.

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"He'srnchanging back!" The pink-haired witch warned everyone. She was glaringrnhatefully at the imposter with her wand aimed at him.

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Everyonernturned to stare at the unconscious man. His face began to change, smoothing outrnas the scars disappeared. The hair turned straw yellow, and both the peg legrnand the magical eye fell as the real leg and eye grew back. In just a fewrnmoments, a completely different man was standing in Moody's previous place.

rnrn

 

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"BartyrnCrouch Jr.!" McGonagall exclaimed stunned.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Many headsrnturned towards the pale Barty Crouch Sr., who was staring at his son in horror.

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"Barty,rnwhat's going on?" Ludo Bagman asked warily, stepping away from the man.

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"I wouldrnlike to know that, too," Dumbledore said as he came back with Snape on hisrnheels.

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"Where'srnMoody?" The pink-haired witch asked as soon as she saw him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"He's inrnthe infirmary with Madame Pomfrey. He was unconscious, but mostly unharmed.rnHe'll be fine in the morning after a night's rest," the headmaster assured her.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Good," therntall black wizard said before returning his gaze towards Crouch. "You owe us anrnexplanation. And I think it's your turn to hand over your wand."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I… I…" Hernhesitated.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Barty,"rnDumbledore said firmly. "Your wand."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Dumbledore…rnI… my fault… Bertha…" The man murmured, looking at war with himself.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What is herntalking about?" Karkaroff snapped. "What's that nonsense?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

Dumbledorernwalked closer to the man, his wand ready just in case. "Barty?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Dumbledore…rnhe… stronger… warn…" Crouch mumbled, becoming more agitated.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Thernheadmaster now stood in front of the man. He studied him carefully before hisrneyes widened. "He's controlled by the Imperius Curse," he muttered.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What?rnZat's ridiculous, Dumbly-dorr," Madame Maxime scoffed.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Dumbledorernfrowned, not taking his eyes off Barty, who kept muttering things under hisrnbreath. "I don't think so. I believe he's fighting the curse but whoever castedrnit is clearly powerful."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Whatrnshould we do?" The tall black wizard asked.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Thernheadmaster pursed his lips. "I think the best thing would be to give poor Bartyrna respite of the ordeal he's going through," he decided, flicking his wand. Arnred beam hit Crouch in the chest and he crumpled to the floor. "We'll take himrnto the infirmary once we're finished here."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Albus,rnwhat's going on?" McGonagall asked, beginning to be overwhelmed. They were onlyrnsupposed to find out who the champions were going to be. Instead, they found anrnimposter, said father's imposter being imperiused, a powerful magical artefactrnmalfunctioning, something bypassing the wards around Hogwarts like they didn'trnexist, a murderer appearing in the Great Hall and those blasted blank books.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I don'trnknow, Minerva," Dumbledore answered grimly. "I'm hoping that the letter in Mr.rnPotter's hand can offer some explanations. Mr. Potter, if you could continuernreading…"

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry tookrna shaky breath, a part of him wishing that he hadn't got out of bed thatrnmorning. After the past three Halloweens at Hogwarts and now this, he wasrnbeginning to think that the day was cursed.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Now that that's over, we think we should givernyou some explanations. You better restrain Barty Crouch Sr. well because he'srnunder the Imperius Curse and you better restrain Barty Crouch Jr. even betterrnbecause you'll need his testimony in the future, and not just to help cleanrnSirius' name. Don't bother questioning them, nor Sirius Black. You'll get arnfull detailed explanation for both things in the books.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Now, onto the books. You may havernnoticed that they're blank except for half the title. They'll remain like thatrnuntil the person whose story they tell about agrees to read them. Yes, Harry,rnthat's you. Seven books about your seven years in Hogwarts, one book per year. Yourrnyears in Hogwarts until now have been difficult, but they're nothing comparedrnto what they'll be from now on. This year, your fourth year, will mark arndifference for everyone and everything will begin to go downhill unstoppably.

rnrn

 

rnrn

That's why we've sentrnthe books. They're a heads-up about what's to come, so that all of you canrnprepare for it. They have everything you need to know to defeat Voldemort forrngood this time. He'll be back sooner than you think and a lot of people willrndie, people who's right there in the Great Hall.

rnrnrnrn

 

rnrn

A stonyrnsilence spread across the room. You-Know-Who was coming back? Surely that was arnjoke. That couldn't be right. He had been gone for thirteen years now. HarryrnPotter had defeated him, the same Harry Potter who was now staring at thernparchment in his hands with a pale face.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Theyrncouldn't know it, but he was remembering the dream he had had that summer, therndream about Voldemort planning his return to full power and his murder withrnWormtail. He was going to succeed? How soon was sooner than he thought? Howrnmuch time did they have to prepare?

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Harry,"rnRon murmured, equally pale. "Keep reading."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrncleared his throat and shook his head.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Many of those deaths could've beenrnavoided if people had got their heads out of their asses sooner. We hope that thesernbooks will give them the kick in the ass they need to start preparing andrnhopefully save many lives. Not only that, but maybe a few people will avoid arncouple of horrible decisions they will make and will try to do better. Many secretsrnwill come to light in the books, secrets that will hurt, but we're asking allrnof you NOT TO JUDGE until you finish the last page of the last book. Thingsrnwon't always be what they seem and you'll probably have to eat your words ifrnyou accuse too hastily because there are many people who'll be judged toornharshly in the next four years. This is a second chance to all of you. We hopernyou don't waste it.

rnrnrnrn

 

rnrn

We know that you don't want people to read yourrnlife, Harry, and we're sorry, but this is necessary. You're the one who wasrnstuck at the very centre of it all and lived through all of it. That's why werncreated these books from your point of view, which, unfortunately, includesrnyour thoughts and feelings and a few dreams. We've taken out a few that weren'trnrelated to Voldemort and the war, but we aren't sure we got all of them.

rnrn

 

rnrn

We know that's bad enough, but that's not thernworst thing.

rnrn

 

rnrn

It wasn't?rnHow could it not?

rnrn

 

rnrn

The wholernGreat Hall was wondering the same thing. Their thoughts, feelings and dreams,rntheir whole life plastered over the pages of seven books. That was a nightmarerncome true. Nothing could be worse than that.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The spell needed to create these books has arnhuge drawback. They're from your point of view because they're connected tornyou, literally. That means that whatever happens to you in those books willrnhappen to you for real. Don't try to correct those effects. You may be able tornlessen them in some cases, but they won't disappear until they pass in thernstory or until you finish whatever book you're reading at the moment.

rnrn

 

rnrn

We know. Awful.

rnrn

 

rnrn

We could have tried to include different pointsrnof view so that at least you wouldn't be the only linked to the books and itrnwouldn't be just your thoughts you would read, but that was a bad idea. Asrnwe've said, not everyone in the Great Hall survives and we didn't want peoplernto begin dropping dead in the middle of the reading.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Everyonernwas horrified. Linked to the books? Feeling whatever they read happened to him?rnThe letter had been right. This was infinitely worse. Who had created thosernbooks? Had they wanted to torture Potter?

rnrn

 

rnrn

Either way,rnthey couldn't help but feel secretly relieved that not everyone would be linkedrnto the books like Potter was. Knowing that not everyone would survive the nextrnfour years if it was true that it was a book per year, they didn't want to riskrnbeing the ones that would drop dead unannounced. Or, well, announced but beyondrnaid.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The other option that would have allowed to getrnthe whole story would have been from Voldemort's point of view, but we think werncan all agree that would have been much creepier. No one wants that.

rnrn

 

rnrn

There was arncollective shudder in the Great Hall as they imagined it.

rnrn

 

rnrn

No. Nobodyrnwanted to get into that psycho's head. Thinking about the possibility was badrnenough. It made their skin crawl.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Another thing, nobody can enter or exitrnHogwarts until you've finished reading all the books. You're inside a timernbubble as you may have noticed when the Goblet of Fire didn't start announcingrnthe champions of the Triwizard Tournament. Don't worry, nobody will miss yournoutside. It will be like no time at has passed when you go out of there.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Finally, everyone there has to make an oath notrnto reveal to anyone outside the existence of the books or their contents.rnAnyone who tries to listen or read without making this oath will be instantlyrntransported to the infirmary, where they'll remain unconscious until the end ofrnthe reading, and they won't remember a thing when they wake up.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Before any of you argue, this is some dangerousrnknowledge we're giving you here. Things are already starting to change and yournhaven't even begun to read the books. We can't afford to risk having this informationrnfalling into the wrong hands. It would be disastrous for everyone.

rnrn

 

rnrn

There'll be a single exception to this and thatrnwill be Harry since the books are about him. And before you say that it isn'trnfair that Harry doesn't have to make the oath, you'll need a failsafe in casernyou need to tell someone about all this. Since we can all agree that, being thernbooks about his life, he won't be going around telling everybody about them,rnhe'll be the one exempt from the oath and there's no point trying to arguernabout it. We can't hear you anyway and we won't change our minds.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry, we've made sure that the books willrnremain blank until you agree to read them. You have an option here. It's yourrnlife they're telling and you'll be the one who will be in pain. If you don'trnwant to read them, just put everything back inside the box and tap it with yourrnwand. It will disappear along with all your memories and everything will gornback to how it was before the first flash of light. It's keyed to your magicalrnsignature so it'll only work if you do it willingly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

It's your decision and your decision alone,rnHarry.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Good luck, everyone.

rnrn

 

rnrn

A few friends from a future that will hopefullyrnimprove

rnrn

 

rnrn

Nobody knewrnwhat to say when Harry finished reading the letter. What were they supposed tornsay?

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I thinkrnit's time for the students to go to their common rooms," Dumbledore broke thernsilence.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What?"rnMcGonagall asked, still stunned.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We're notrngoing to begin reading tonight no matter what's Mr. Potter's decision," thernheadmaster said firmly. "And this isn't something that can be decided on arnwhim. Mr. Potter should have time to think it through and he'll announce hisrndecision in the morning. Meanwhile, I believe we have two men to secure so theyrndon't escape."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What aboutrnSirius Black?" The tall black wizard asked calmly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"He can'trngo anywhere and he doesn't have a wand," Dumbledore replied. "I believe hernwon't be a threat."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Are yournsure, Dumbledore?" The man asked, not looking too happy.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'm sure,rnKingsley," the headmaster nodded resolutely. "We have other things to worryrnabout than a man that was convicted for something he didn't do. Instead, wernbetter take these men to the dungeons. It's been a long time since they werernused with that purpose, but I'm sure they're still a good place to make surernthey can't escape."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Myrnstudents, to the carriage!" Madame Maxime announced, agreeing with Dumbledore'srndecision. She wanted her students safe where she could keep an eye on them.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Durmstrang'srnstudents, to the ship!" Karkaroff ordered, paler than normal.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And thernrest of the students to their common rooms!" McGonagall said, not leaving roomrnfor arguments.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Harry,rncome on," Hermione said softly, gently grabbing his elbow to guide him back tornthe Gryffindor table to take the books.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Albus,rnSirius and I will go to the Gryffindor tower, too, unless you need us forrnsomething," Remus said, uncharacteristically serious.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Of course,rnRemus," Dumbledore nodded.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We'll gornthere, too," Mrs. Weasley said, lips pursed as she stared mistrustfully atrnSirius.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Dumbly-dorr,"rnMadame Maxime called when she was about to exit the Great Hall after herrnstudents. She was staring at Harry, who was carrying the box with the books,rndisapprovingly. "We are letting zat child take ze books?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"They tellrnhis story, Madame Maxime," the headmaster said. "I think it's his right to dornwith them as he pleases."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Even ifrnthey hold important information like the return and demise of the Dark Lord?"rnKarkaroff asked, having stopped by the door, too. He didn't look happy at all.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's my life," Harry intervened beforernDumbledore could even open his mouth. He was glaring at the other twornheadmasters, not liking how they were suggesting that he shouldn't be the onerntaking the books. "These books were sent to me,rnthey tell my life and it's my decision whether we read them orrnnot."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Karkaroffrnbristled. "You…"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Watch yourrntongue, Karkaroff," Sirius intervened, taking a step forward. He glared at thernman warningly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Thernheadmaster of Durmstrang scowled, but he didn't see any support when he lookedrnaround. Not saying another word, he whirled around and strolled out of sightrnquickly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Let's gornto the tower, Harry, dear," Mrs. Weasley said softly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Nobodyrntalked as they walked through the corridors and climbed the stairs. When theyrnreached the Fat Lady, she was accompanied by another witch as they bothrngossiped.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Who's beenrnchosen as the champions?" The Fat Lady asked eagerly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Balderdash,"rnRon said instead of answering.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's not!"rnThe other witch exclaimed indignant.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's justrnthe password, Vi," the Fat Lady calmed her down as she turned on her hinges tornlet them enter the common room.

rnrn

 

rnrn

It seemedrnlike every Gryffindor was waiting for them inside. It was almost enough to makernHarry turn on his heels and flee in the opposite direction, but he simplyrnignored all the stares with practiced ease and flopped down on the couch hernusually occupied with Ron and Hermione. He left the box at his feet and droppedrnhis head in his hands, resisting the urge to groan and yell in frustration. Hernfelt his two best friends sit on either side of him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"So," Ronrnsaid after a minute when nobody talked. "That was unexpected."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionernleant forward to glare at him. "Really, Ron? That's all you have to say?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What elserndo you want me to say?" Ron replied annoyed.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionernrolled her eyes and she crossed her arms over her chest as she leant back. "Irndon't know why I bother," she huffed.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron went tornexchange a baffled look with Harry, but his best friend wasn't listening, toornbusy glaring at the box at his feet. He clapped his shoulder and gave him arnshake to get his attention. "What are you going to do, mate?" He asked,rnbecoming more serious.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry'srnglare intensified. "I don't know," he said through gritted teeth. "This wholernthing sucks."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Harry!"rnMrs. Weasley exclaimed scandalized. She had never heard such language from him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Mum, Irnthink he's entitled to a few curses and swears after the bomb he had just hadrndropped on him," Bill said dryly. He was standing his arms crossed, leaningrnagainst the couch occupied by his sister and the twins.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I wouldrnhave been swearing up a storm a long while ago," Charlie agreed, standing nextrnto his big brother with his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It doesn'trnmatter what you two would be doing," Ginny cut in, looking annoyed. "I thinkrnwhat Harry is going to do now is a bit more important."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"He's goingrnto burn those books," Sirius said firmly. He was standing behind an armchairrnwhere Remus had sat, hands gripping the backrest so tightly that his knucklesrnwere white.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Many headsrnsnapped towards him startled. Almost everyone was still wary of having himrnthere, but Dumbledore didn't seem to have a problem with it and the letter thatrnhad been right about everything said that he was innocent so… Nobody uttered arnprotest yet. Not that that meant that they trusted him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Burn thernbooks?" Harry repeated, thinking that he had to have heard him wrong.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Yes," thernanimagus nodded. "Right now, in fact."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrngritted his teeth. "No," he snapped, making everyone stop in their tracks.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"No?" Mrs.rnWeasley asked. She couldn't believe she was thinking this, but she agreed withrnSirius Black here. She wanted to burn those books until there weren't evenrnashes left.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"No," Harryrnconfirmed. "I don't know what I want to do with them, but burning them before Irndecide is not an option."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Harry,rnthose books," George said, looking at him with a serious expression.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Are arnnasty piece of work," Fred finished for him. They didn't know everything Harryrnhad been through, but they knew enough to know that making him feel it all overrnagain, never mind whatever would happen in the future, was not going to be fun.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'm notrnsaying that I want to read them," Harry said, clenching his jaw.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Harry, yourndon't have many more options than that," Percy intervened as he took a sit onrnthe armrest next to George. It was rather risky of him, but he figured that thernsituation was too serious for even George to try to prank him right then.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"He'srnright," Charlie nodded. "Either we read them or we don't."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We're notrnreading them," Sirius snapped, glaring at them furiously.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"That's notrnyour decision," Harry said, narrowing his eyes in his godfather's direction. Itrnwas ticking him off to hear so many people making decisions in his stead.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Siriusrnturned around to gape at his godson. "Harry…"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We have tornread them," the boy cut him off. "We can't not read them. Many people will diernif we don't."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Peoplerndidn't answer then. They were staring at him with a mix of pity and sympathyrnand half another emotions that Harry didn't want to even begin to decipher.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's notrnfair to you, Harry," Remus said sadly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Life isn'trnfair," he replied bitterly. He had accepted long beforehand that he had a knackrnfor drawing the short stick time and time again.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Yournshouldn't have to do this, Harry," Sirius said just as sadly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry wasrngetting irritated now. "You don't have to be there if you don't want to," hernsaid, making an effort not to snap. "In fact, I would rather that nobody heardrnthem."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"So, yourndon't want to read them," Bill summed up.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Of coursernnot," Harry huffed. "I don't want anyone to listen to my life like it's arnstory. That's not right. If I could, I would be reading them on my own." Hernstopped pensively. "Maybe I can. The letter did say that they needed myrnpermission for the books to stop being blank."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We're notrnallowing you to read them on your own, Harry," Hermione said firmly, sendingrnhim a steely glare.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We'rernreading them with you, Hermione and I," Ron said, clenching his jaw stubbornly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Hey, yournthree don't get to do this on your own," Ginny intervened angrily. "You'rernalways doing things your way, with your secrets that you never tell anyone. Butrnnow we can be part of that."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Shut up,rnGinny," Ron snapped.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Ron! Don'trntalk to your sister like that!" His mother scolded him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"She's justrnbutting her nose where it's not her business!" He protested.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Technically,rnit's not your business either," his sister said acidly. "It's Harry's. Andrnyou've invited yourself to the reading, too, when he said that he didn't wantrnanyone to hear. I don't understand why we can't do the same."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You knowrnnothing about he's been through!" Ron yelled. "About what we've all beenrnthrough!"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"That's thernproblem! You three never let anyone in!" Ginny snapped, losing her temper.

rnrn

 

rnrn

It was somethingrnthat had always frustrated her. When she had found out that Ron was bestrnfriends with Harry Potter, she had been sure that that was her chance to getrncloser to him. Of course, it hadn't worked that way since she hadn't been ablernto bring herself to talk in front of him in spite of how polite he had been.rnBut she had got over that and she had hoped that she would be included in theirrnadventures then, that she would be part of the rumours the students whisperedrnin the corridors.

rnrn

 

rnrn

That hadrnnever happened. The three of them had clumped up every time she had tried tornget included in one of those conversations in hushed tones. They never told herrnanything, like she was just a little girl that couldn't be told anythingrnimportant.

rnrn

 

rnrn

It wasrnsomething that bothered a bit all of the Weasleys, but none as much as Ginny.rnShe was the one closest in age to them, just a year younger than Harry, and shernwas still left in the dark. Why couldn't they see that she wanted to help, thatrnshe wanted to be part of that?

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's notrnyour business!" Ron yelled, not caring how they were the focus of attention ofrneveryone in the common room.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And is itrnyours?!" She argued. "Why can't we help Harry, too?!"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"This isn'trnabout that, Ginny," Harry intervened before Ron could continue the screamingrnmatch with his sister.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Then whatrnis it about, Harry?" She asked annoyed.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnsighed and racked a hand through his hair, avoiding all the gazes fixed on him.rn"You don't know what you're talking about. You don't know…"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Then letrnus find out," she snapped impatiently. "Why don't you want us to know?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

Now Harryrnwas getting annoyed, too. "I don't have to letrnanyone read my life. I've lived through it and it's not pretty and whatever yourndon't know you don't need to know."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Why don'trnyou want to let us help?" She asked, making an effort not to shout again. "Yourncan't do everything on your own, Harry."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I don't dorneverything on my own," he said angrily. "I have people who help me every time."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You'rerntalking about Ron and Hermione, aren't you?" She said through gritted teeth.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Yes,"rnHarry nodded, not an ounce of shame on his face. His two best friends hadrnhelped him through everything and they would help him with everything theyrndidn't know about, but he refused to tell them. He didn't want them to knowrneven more than they already knew about the Dursleys. It was too much as it was.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We canrnhelp, too," Ginny argued.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I don'trnwant more people to find out," Harry replied stubbornly. Why couldn't have thernbooks appeared when he was alone or just with Ron and Hermione? Why hadn't hernhidden the box instead of announcing to the whole Great Hall that it hadrnappeared? Everything would be so much easier now.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Why?!" Shernsnapped.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Because,rnGinny!" He said impatiently. It wasn't that difficult to understand. "It's myrnlife and there are some things that I don't want anyone to know. I don't talkrnabout them just like you don't talk about your first year."

rnrn

 

rnrn

That shutrnup the redhead rather quickly. It was true that she despised anyone evenrnmentioning her first year to her. She didn't want to talk about it and sherndidn't want people to find out. But it wasn't the same. Harry wasn't the victimrnin those adventures he had, he was the hero and Ron and Hermione were rightrnbeside him, right where she wanted to stand, too.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Ginny, Irnthink Harry is right," Arthur said softly. He may not like it and it mayrnsometimes drive him crazy with worry when he didn't know what had happened tornthose three, but he couldn't demand answers from them, not when two of themrnweren't really his kids. And Merlin knew that Ron was tightlipped about almostrneverything that had to do with those… 'adventures', for a lack of a betterrnword, that they had.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"But it'srnalso true that we want to help," Mrs. Weasley said determined. She agreed withrnher daughter, partially at least. Rather, she thought that Ron, Harry andrnHermione shouldn't get involved in those things at all. They should just tellrnan adult what they found out and let them handle it. They were just kids.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnsighed tiredly and rubbed his scar distractedly. "I know you want, Mrs.rnWeasley. It's just that it isn't possible most of the time. And in this case…rnwell, it wouldn't really be a big help, you know? It's just reading a few booksrnand we can tell you anything pertinent about Voldemort."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Harry,rnyou're not leaving me out of this," Sirius said stubbornly. He was not lettingrnhis godson reading those books without him. He didn't know what exactly hadrnhappened that only Harry and his two best friends knew about, but he wanted tornfind out.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnpushed down his panic. If there was one person he didn't want to find out, itrnwas Sirius. The man was really overprotective, almost as much as Mrs. Weasleyrnbut in a completely different way. He didn't smother with affection, but hernworried and became reckless and did stupid things and wanted him to remain arnkid when he couldn't do that. He hadn't been a kid for a long time now.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Nor me,"rnRemus said, looking at Harry cautiously. He knew that he didn't have much of arnrelationship with Harry compared to Ron and Hermione, but he thought that herndeserved to know. Had things been a bit different, Harry would have grown uprncalling him Uncle Moony and that, in his opinion, entitled him to know what hisrnhonorary nephew had been through.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnwanted to tear his hair out. He didn't want this. He didn't want anyone to knowrnwhat had happened in his fight against Quirrell in first year, or how close hernhad been to death in the Chamber of Secrets, or what he heard when the dementorsrngot close. He didn't everyone to hear how bloody terrified he had been inrneveryone of those occasions, or what he thought every second of the day, orrnwhat his life with the Dursleys was like.

rnrn

 

rnrn

It was hisrnlife and he didn't want anyone to go around poking their noses into it. Herndidn't bother other people like that, did he? He didn't go around trying tornfind out what they thought and what they did and everything, so why didrneveryone else think that they had any right to do that with his life?

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'm goingrnfor a walk," he announced abruptly, standing up and walking out of the commonrnroom before they could try to stop him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Well, thatrnwent well," Bill commented sarcastically.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Shouldn'trnwe bring him back?" Percy asked, staring disapprovingly at the door. "It's pastrncurfew and Professor Dumbledore ordered all the students to go to their commonrnrooms."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ronrnsnorted. "If you think you can find Harry and drag him back now, be my guest."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I don'trnget it," Sirius said frustrated. "I could understand if he was against reading,rnbut he just doesn't want us to read. Why?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"That's arnquestion many people has asked since Harry came to Hogwarts," George shrugged.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's not arnquestion that has been answered yet," Fred said.

rnrn

 

rnrn

It botheredrnthem a bit, but they understood. They also had secrets that they didn't wantrnanyone to find out and Harry always respected that, so, in return, they did thernsame. It was enough for them to know that, just like Harry would help them in arnheartbeat if they asked, the boy knew that they were there for him at arnmoment's notice. They only needed a word and they would help him in whateverrnway he needed. However, they also knew how capable and independent he was.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"But whatrnexactly is he trying to hide?" The animagus insisted as his frustration grew.rn"I mean, I know what he was up to last year with the dementors and everythingrnand it can't possibly be worse than that…"

rnrn

 

rnrn

He trailedrnoff as everyone turned to look at Ron and Hermione, the ones who could judgernaccurately the truth in Sirius' statement. The two teenagers were avoiding allrnthe gazes, refusing to look at them.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Ron?rnHermione?" Arthur asked quietly when they didn't say anything.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron sighed.rn"What do you want me to say, dad?" He asked tiredly. "That I'm not sure ifrnHarry counts the dementors as his worst experience? Because I don't. We've beenrnthrough a whole lot more than any of you know and Harry has been through evenrnmore things."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And we'rernsure that Harry hasn't told us everything," Hermione chipped in. "There arernalways many details missing."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"So, hernkeeps secrets from you too?" Ginny asked, feeling a bit relieved. It was goodrnto know that Harry didn't trust them with everything. Maybe there were evenrnsome things about the Chamber of Secrets that she knew and they ignored. Itrnmade her feel better, closer to Harry.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron glaredrnat her, his temper rising quickly. He opened his mouth to snap at her, havingrnhad it with her and her jealousy of their friendship with their best friend. However, he was surprised when someone got tornGinny before him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Enough,rnGinny," Hermione snapped, her eyes narrowed and angered. It was enough to makernthe smallest redhead reel back in surprise. It was the first time Hermione, whornwas usually so patient and kind with her, talked to her like that. "Of coursernthere are things we don't know about Harry. There's one little thing calledrnprivacy that we respect, but it's enough that Harry knows that we're there forrnhim. We know enough and there's a good reason he hasn't told us anything else."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Thernredheaded girl was taken aback by the sheer protectiveness shining in thernbrunette's eyes. "But surely you must want to know…" She argued weakly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionerngritted her teeth. "It doesn't matter if we want to know or not. What mattersrnis if us knowing would help Harry," she said. "Like Harry said, you don't wantrnto talk about your first and nobody is making you do it. You must have realisedrnthat, if we read those books for the whole school to listen, they'll find outrnwhat happened to you, the entire truth. And it won't be any less horrible justrnbecause it will be from Harry's point of view. He had a year that was as bad asrnyours."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ginny hadrngone pale in a couple of seconds. She hadn't thought about it that way.rnEveryone knew that she had been taken to the Chamber of Secrets and rescued byrnHarry and Ron, but nobody suspected that her involvement got further than that.rnThose who knew had kept it secret, but if they read the books, it would comernout and she couldn't predict what the students reactions were going to be.rnWould they blame and ostracise her?

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Not so funrnnow, uh?" Ron said, with far less heat in his voice than before. He didn't wantrneveryone to know what had happened to his little sister any more than she did.

rnrn

 

rnrn

There was arnlong silence then. The rest of the Gryffindor students were whispering amongrnthemselves while their little group was just uncomfortable. Sirius and Remusrnwere dying to ask what they were talking about, what had happened in Ginny'srnfirst year and Harry's second one, but the faces around them weren't veryrninviting.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"So, what?"rnSirius asked finally. "What are we supposed to do? Let Harry go on his own withrnthe books and hope that he'll tell us what they say?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

Herndesperately wanted to be part of his godson's life. Not only was Harry the lastrnconnection he had to James and Lily, but he loved the kid. He wanted to bernthere for him and it frustrated him to know that Harry was keeping secrets, bigrnsecrets, from him. Why didn't Harry trust him?

rnrn

 

rnrn

When Harryrnhad been born and Sirius had held him for the first time, the animagus hadrnimagined what the future would be like. How he would be Harry's favourite unclernand how the boy would come to him with problems he didn't dare go to hisrnparents with. Harry would trust him with everything and would never doubt thatrnhis Uncle Padfoot would be there to help him get into and out of trouble. Ofrncourse, things hadn't worked like that. Harry had only met him a few monthsrnprior and he had spent more time believing he had betrayed his parents thanrnknowing that he was innocent.

rnrn

 

rnrn

…When hernput it like that, it was no wonder that it took Harry a bit to trust him.rnAlthough, that didn't mean it didn't frustrate Sirius any less. His godsonrnshould be able to come to him with anything. If he was honest with himself, it saddenedrnand made him a bit jealous that Harry seemed to trust Ron and Hermione morernthan him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Saidrnteenagers were currently exchanging a glance that hurt to look at because ofrnhow much it reminded him so much of the ones the Marauders used to share amongrnthem before life broke them.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Yes,"rnHermione said resigned but determined. "You do exactly that if that's what hernwants."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"'You'?" Charliernrepeated with a raised eyebrow.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We're notrnletting him read on his own," Ron said stubbornly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And whyrncan you read with him while we can't?" Sirius asked. He didn't care howrnchildish he sounded. This was his godson they were talking about and he hadrnevery right to know what was going on in his life.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron glaredrnat him. "First of all, because you don't know half of what's in those books andrnyou'd freak out, which won't help Harry at all."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I won'trnfreak out!" The animagus exclaimed indignant.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Yes, yournwill," Ron contradicted him. Sirius would completely lose his mind with firstrnyear alone.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Andrnsecondly, we said that we're not letting him read on his own, not that we wouldrnread with him," Hermione added. As much as it would pain her to do it, shernwould simply sit next to Harry doing something else while he read, just in casernhe needed help. And he would need it. "Can you honestly say that you would bernable to be in the same room as him and not try to take a peek at what he wouldrnbe reading?" She asked sternly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Everyonernelse in the common room, even those the words weren't meant to, deflated at thernsame time. No, they wouldn't be able to do that.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"There yournhave it," Ron said when there was no answer.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What if werncould?" Molly fretted, wringing her hands together until her husband took themrnbetween his.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermione'srnface softened. "Mrs. Weasley, you know a little bit of what has happened thernlast three years. You know Harry's been hurt a lot and that he'll feel like he's hurt again when he's reading,"rnshe said quietly. "We've seen him hurt and in pain before, but he doesn't likernpeople to see him like that. Nobody likes that. Just…"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Don't makernit harder than it's going to be for him," Ron bluntly finished for her when sherncouldn't find the words.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We wouldrnnever…" Molly began appalled.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Mum, itrntook months before Harry admitted in front of us that he was in pain," Ron cutrnher off. "And he still doesn't like it. It may not be that big deal for you,rnbut it is for him. So, no matter whether he decides to let us read or not orrnjust some of us, we will all respectrnthat decision. Is that understood?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

A stunned silencernfollowed his words, but no one dared to question the redhead's words. Theyrndidn't know that boy could carry that kind of authority, but there wasn't arnsingle protest in spite of the fact that nobody was happy. They knew deep downrnthat it was Harry's decision, but the curiosity and the concern were drivingrnthem crazy. They needed to hear that story. Maybe then they could understandrnHarry a little bit more, like Ron and Hermione did.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Well,rnwe're going to bed," Fred announced when the common room was already halfrnempty.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's beenrnan exciting night and we will possibly have an even more exciting dayrntomorrow," George nodded.

rnrn

 

rnrn

There werernmurmurs as they climbed the stairs to their dormitory before Mr. and Mrs.rnWeasley stood up again. "We're going to see where we can sleep," Molly said,rngrabbing her husband's hand.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Boys, arernyou coming or you'll figure it out later?" Arthur asked, looking at his threernoldest sons, who didn't have a dormitory in the Gryffindor tower anymore.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'mrngoing," Percy said, standing up tiredly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Yeah, Irnthink we're coming with, too," Charlie yawned, stretching his hands above hisrnhead. He had had a busy day choosing the dragons that they were going to bringrnfor the first task and he was exhausted.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Night,"rnBill said over his shoulder to the rest of the group.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'm goingrnto bed, too," Ginny said, looking sullen and disappointed as she disappearedrnupstairs without looking at them.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Sirius?rnAre you coming with?" Remus asked. He had stood up to leave, but his childhoodrnfriend was staring at Ron and Hermione with a half angry and half devastatedrnexpression. "Sirius?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Whyrndoesn't he trust me?" He asked the teenagers, ignoring his friend.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's notrnthat he doesn't trust you," Hermione tried to explain soothingly. "He does."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Not likernhe trusts you two," he replied simply. Because it was the truth. There was nornone Harry trusted quite like he trusted Ron and Hermione.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionernpursed her lips, trying not to stare at him with pity. "It's more like… herndoesn't want to tell you some things."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Why?" Hernrepeated frustrated. What had he done wrong? Harry knew that it wasn't hisrnfault that he couldn't have been there for him for almost twelve years, that hernhad been in Azkaban, didn't he? He had to know that Sirius was trying now.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You'llrnhave to ask him that," Ron said, clenching his jaw stubbornly in a way thatrnshowed that they weren't going to give in on this.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Siriusrngritted his teeth annoyed. "Can you at least tell me why he trusts you twornthen?" He asked desperately. What had they done that he hadn't?

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron andrnHermione shared a look. They knew the answer. They had been the first ones tornstick with Harry through thick and thin and hadn't judged him for who he was.rnBut they knew that that answer wouldn't satisfy Sirius nor would he like it.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"He has tornbe the one who explains that to you if he wants," Hermione answered with a tonernof finality that made the animagus bristle. He whirled around and stomped outrnof the Gryffindor tower.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Remusrnsighed tiredly. He understood Sirius' frustration, but they couldn't dornanything about it. "See you in the morning," he told the two teenagers beforernfollowing his friend.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron andrnHermione stayed sitting side by side for a minute.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The girlrnreleased all the air in her lungs. "Thank Merlin that's finally over," shernsighed in relief.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"They surerncan be persistent," Ron said, scrunching up his nose. "Think we should go lookrnfor Harry?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionernpursed her lips. "Not yet," she decided. "Let's wait for a while. We can go ifrnhe isn't back in an hour."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Findingrnhim with the map will be easy," Ron nodded. Then he grinned. "A chess game inrnthe meantime?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionerngrinned in amusement and rolled her eyes. "You enjoy that game too much," sherngrumbled, but she accepted.

rnrn

 

rnrn

*** TTC ***

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Sirius,rnslow down!" Remus shouted from behind, but the animagus didn't shorten hisrnstrides at all. With a disgruntled huff, the werewolf jogged to catch up. "Carernto tell me what's in your mind?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You knowrnwhat's in my mind," Sirius spat, not looking at him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Remusrnstudied him for a moment. His friend was frowning heavily and he was clearlyrnannoyed and hurt and angry.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Does itrnreally bother you that much that you're not the first one Harry goes to when hernhas a problem?" He asked softly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Siriusrnstopped so abruptly that Remus had to retrace a couple of steps. The animagusrnwas glowering at him furiously, but he knew that the anger wasn't directed atrnhim.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"He should,rnRemus," he growled. "When he has a problem like the ones everyone's suggestingrnhe has, he should have gone to James and Lily. And since they aren't here, it'srnme he should look at for help, or you."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"But wernweren't there," Remus said sadly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"But we'rernhere now!" Sirius exclaimed annoyed.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"He's grownrnup, Sirius," he pointed out gently. "He had to find other people to rely on."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I know,"rnSirius scowled, looking away. His anger melt away, leaving behind just the rawrnpain. "I just don't understand why he can't include us in that. I thought… Irnthought that he understood why we couldn't be there for him, that he didn'trnblame us."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I don'trnthink he blames us," Remus argued, sounding much more confident than he felt.rnTruthfully, he wasn't sure a small part of Harry didn't resent them in thernslightest. He sighed and laid a hand on Sirius' shoulder. "C'mon, Padfoot.rnLet's turn in for the night. We can talk to Harry in the morning."

rnrn

 

rnrn

*** TTC ***

rnrn

 

rnrn

The commonrnroom was already empty, except for Ron and Hermione. They were just finishingrnthe chess game, which the redhead of course won by far, when the portraitrnopened again and Harry entered, shoulders hunched and hands curled into fists.rnThey watched him let himself fall onto the couch, resting his head against thernback. He looked much older than he was.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I take itrnthe walk didn't help much?" Ron asked as they began to put away the chessboard.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnsighed with his eyes fixed on the ceiling. "No," he said. He leant forward tornlook at them. "I don't know what to do."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron andrnHermione shared a glance, trying to find out what to tell him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Don't getrnthis wrong, Harry," Hermione began. "But I don't think you should read thesernbooks alone. You're going to be hurting at some parts and-"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I know,"rnHarry cut her off. He only had to remember the pain from his scar when he had touchedrnQuirrel, or the way his vision had blurred when the basilisk fang had piercedrnhis arm, or that he passed out when dementors got close, to know that hernwouldn't be able to keep reading when he reached those parts. "I… I know Irncan't do it alone," he admitted. He hesitated and looked at them half ashamedrnand half pleadingly. "Can you…?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You don'trnhave to ask, mate," Ron said immediately, not even allowing him to finish. Herngot to his feet and sat next to him, clapping his shoulder.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We knowrnwhat happened anyway," Hermione said, sending Harry a tiny smile.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry triedrnto return it, but it came out more like a grimace. "Not everything. There are arnlot of things you don't know."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"About whatrnhappened every year?" Hermione asked. "Harry, we know that you didn't tell usrnall the details. It's okay."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Not justrnthat," Harry shook his head. They knew most details about those things, morernthan anyone and more than they thought.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"About thernDursleys?" Ron guessed knowingly. Harry's flinch was enough of an answer. "Wernknow enough. Nothing that appears in the books will scare us away. You forgetrnwho went to rescue you the summer before second year."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Thatrnwasn't the worst, Ron," Harry admitted, not looking at either of them. He hatedrntalking about this, but he had to warn them. They deserved that much. "I don'trnknow what will appear since I don't know when I've been thinking about what andrnI don't know which parts we'll read, but…"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's okay,rnHarry," Hermione said softly. She tried to sound normal in spite of the lump inrnher throat. Harry and Ron had told her what had happened that summer, how Ronrnand the twins had found Harry, and she didn't want to imagine what could bernworse than that.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It doesn'trnchange anything," Ron promised fiercely. Except how much he wanted to punch thernDursleys, but that was beside the point. Nothing would change between the threernof them.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And thernothers?" Harry asked warily.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What aboutrnthem?" Ron replied with a frown.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"They'rerngonna want to listen and be there."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Well, yeah,"rnthe redhead admitted. There was no point in trying to deny it. "They'rerncurious."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's yourrnchoice, Harry," Hermione said firmly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"But itrnwon't be. Not really," the boy said angry and upset. "This, this is aboutrnVoldemort and about defeating him and Dumbledore and the professors and thernMinistry workers are gonna want to know everything. They won't be happy unlessrnthey can read it from the books."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"As yournsaid, they can't read the books unless you let them, Harry," Hermione comfortedrnhim. "They can't force your hand."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What ifrnthey don't let me read them unless they're present?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Then yourndon't read them," she said simply.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"But we have to read them!" Harry exclaimed,rnstanding up and starting to pace agitatedly. "We need every advantage we canrnget against Voldemort." He stopped and deflated. "It's not just that I don'trnwant them to read my life or be there when I go through it again," hernconfessed, turning to send them a look of anguish. "Have you thought about howrnmany rules and laws we've broken the last three years?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron andrnHermione paled slightly when they thought about that. It was one problem theyrnhadn't considered, but it was a very real one. Just the year before —using arntime turner like that, rescuing a magical creature sentenced to death, helpingrna fugitive escape— was enough to have them expelled and chucked into Azkabanrnand their wands snapped.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Merlin'srnpants, my mum is gonna murder me if she reads those books," Ron said terrified.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionernsent him an exasperated look. "I think we're facing something a bit more gravernthan your mum's anger, Ron."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"That'srnbecause it's never been aimed your way," he shuddered. He grinned at herrnteasingly. "Besides, you're one to talk Mrs. Or-worse-expelled."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionernflushed as she remembered that occasion and swatted his arm hard. "Don't be arnprat," she mumbled, but she had a tiny grin of amusement, too.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrncouldn't fight the way his lips turned upwards. He wished they could be back tornwhen the most exciting thing had been finding Fluffy on accident. That didn'trnsolve their problems, though.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionernlooked at Harry and her face softened at the worry she could see in spite ofrnthe happy grin. "Don't worry, Harry. We'll figure it out tomorrow. We alwaysrndo, right?" She comforted him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry'srngrin turned sad. "I'm sorry I dragged you into this. You wouldn't be in thisrnmess if you had befriended anyone else," he said sadly. He hated that he putrnthe people close to him in danger just by existing.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron rolledrnhis eyes. "Now I know that you need sleep. You're being dramatic again," hernscoffed. He picked up the box with the books and stood up to give Harry a pushrntowards the stairs that led to their dormitory. "Night, Hermione. And you, yournstubborn prat, we've told you a million times that we can make our ownrndecisions so stop spurting that nonsense and go to sleep. You're gonna need itrntomorrow."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionernsnickered as she watched Ron bully Harry into going to bed and stop thinking.rnShe knew that he was going to manage the former, but he was going to failrnmiserably on the latter. They said that she had a big brain, but it was Harryrnwho had trouble turning his off sometimes.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Her mirthrnvanished when she was on her own. Harry had every right to be worried. She was worriedrnsick, too, and so was Ron. Despite how many times they had repeated that it wasrnHarry's choice whether to read the books or not and who was allowed to readrnthem, they all knew deep down that there wasn't any choice. Not on this.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Anyone whornknew Harry knew that he would want to read those books, no matter the cost tornhimself. The professors and Ministry officers just had to keep pressing on andrnHarry would give in on this. He couldn't not to.

rnrn

 

rnrn

With arnsigh, she stood up to go to bed, too. She fervently hoped that her earlierrnwords to Harry were true and that they would be alright.

rnrn

 

rnrn

*** TTC ***

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrncouldn't sleep. He had spent hours dozing off for a few minutes before beingrnrudely woken up by one nightmare or another. His mind wouldn't stop picturingrnwhat the books were going to tell or how someone or another would react or howrnmuch trouble they would be in if anyone found out half the things that couldrnappear there.

rnrn

 

rnrn

When thernsky finally began to become clearer, Harry decided that enough was enough andrnthrew his covers off. He needed to get out now. Throwing on some school robesrnand slipping his feet in his sneakers, he tiptoed to the door and went out.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Therncorridors were completely empty at this hour. He could see Durmstrang's shiprnand Beauxbatons' carriage outside through the windows he walked past, with nornhint of any student there awake either.

rnrn

 

rnrn

He was lostrnin his thoughts, not thinking about where he was going, when he found his feetrnleading him up to the owlery. He didn't have any reason to change his course.rnHe might as well see if Hedwig had rested after having hurried so much torndeliver the letter to Sirius the day before.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The owleryrnwas quiet, too, the silence only disturbed by the occasional soft hoot from anrnowl or the rustling of feathers. Looking up and searching for a minute, hernfound Hedwig perched on one of the rafts closest to the ceiling, her headrntucked under a wing as she slept peacefully. Knowing how much Hedwig dislikedrnhaving her sleep disturbed for no good reason, he decided to let her sleep andrninstead leant against the windowsill to look outside.

rnrn

 

rnrn

It wasrnpeaceful up there. He doubted that anyone would interrupt him at that ungodlyrnhour and he could enjoy the view of Hogwarts' terrains slowly being filled withrnlight. He could see the Forbidden Forest from there, as well as Hagrid's cabin.rnThere wasn't smoke coming out of the chimney yet so the gamekeeper was stillrnasleep. The huge horses from Beauxbatons were sleep, too, if the way they werernalmost completely still was any indication.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrndidn't know how much time he spent up there. Maybe an hour or so, enough thatrnhe could now see clearly outside and some birds were beginning to fly over therntreetops in the Forbidden Forest. However long it had been, it made Harry feelrnbetter.

rnrn

 

rnrn

He wasn'trneven startled when a rustle of wings sounded behind him and familiar clawsrnlanded on his shoulder.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Morning,rnHedwig," he muttered, not wanting to break the quiet. The owl hooted somewhatrnsleepily and nipped his ear fondly in greeting. "Yeah, I know I saw you justrnyesterday. I just needed a bit of quiet. Yesterday was a bit crazier thanrnusual."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hedwigrnwriggled to get comfortable on his shoulder and hooted again, making Harryrnsmile. They stayed quiet again, until Harry saw a student from Beauxbatons comernout of the carriage. If the students were waking up already, it was time to gornback to the tower and get ready for the day.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'll seernyou soon, okay, girl?" Harry said, petting Hedwig fondly. "And I'll bring somernsweets with me, alright?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

The owlrnhooted her approval, nipping his finger gently and taking flight to go findrnsome mice to hunt outside. Grinning as he watched her become a white speck overrnthe Forbidden Forest, he turned around to go back.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The lastrnthing he expected, though, was to collide with someone who was coming up thernstairs, apparently just as lost in their own thoughts as he was.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Whoa! Lookrnout!" He exclaimed, grabbing their arm before they could fall backwards. Itrntook a bit of awkward moving around until they could both find their balancernagain. "Are you okay?" He asked, releasing their arm.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Her arm. It was a girl about his height, maybe anrninch shorter than him, with straggly, long, blond hair, like she had just gotrnout of bed and hadn't bothered to brush it —much like Harry himself. She wasrnstaring at him with grey eyes that seemed to stand out a lot on her face,rngiving her an odd appearance. It was especially enhanced by the necklace ofrnbutterbeer caps, the earrings made with orange radishes and the wand tuckedrnbehind her left ear.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry hadrnalways thought that nothing would baffle as much as some of Dumbledore's mostrneccentric robes or the decorations for the final of the Quidditch Cup, but thisrngirl was gaining a lot of points.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'm fine,"rnshe smiled kindly. "Thank you very much for helping me. I do not think I wouldrnhave liked to come up the stairs again."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnblinked. "Uh… right. No, I s'ppose not," he conceded.

rnrn

 

rnrn

She staredrnat him unblinkingly and tilted her head. "You're Harry Potter," she stated. Itrnwasn't anything Harry hadn't heard a thousand times before when he met someonernnew, but this girl said it differently. There was no awe or disdain like itrnusually was accompanying his name. She was simply stating a fact, like 'it's arnbeautiful day, I'm wearing radishes on my ears and you're Harry Potter'.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnblinked again, totally confused. "I am," he said, wondering what he should dornwith that. "Who are you?" He blurted out without thinking.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The girl'srnsmile widened, not looking offended by his rudeness. "I'm Luna Lovegood."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Well, uh,rnit's nice to meet you," Harry fumbled. This girl was disconcerting to say thernleast. "I'm sorry I almost pushed you down the stairs. I wasn't looking where Irnwas going."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Luna noddedrnthoughtfully. "No, I suppose you weren't. You're in quite a pickle, aren't you?rnI don't think I would have liked to have some books written about me."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrndeflated, shoulders falling. "It certainly wasn't what I was expecting tornhappen yesterday," he said, sounding upset.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Luna staredrnat him once more. "Although, I suppose that it has its perks after all," shernsaid.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Does it?"rnHarry asked sceptically.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"They sayrnhindsight is 20/20. These books will you that, won't they?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I…rns'ppose," Harry had to agree since that was the only reason he wanted to readrnthe books. That didn't make it easier. "I don't like what I'll have to do tornget that hindsight you're talking about, though."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"UsrnRavenclaws know that knowledge sometimes comes with a price," Luna noddedrnpensively.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You're arnRavenclaw?" Harry blurted out. For some reason, he hadn't pictured this dreamyrngirl in the house of the people who pursued knowledge.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Luna noddedrnagain. "It's an interesting house, don't you think? Although, I suppose you'drnprefer Gryffindor."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrngrinned a bit. "Yeah, I do."

rnrn

 

rnrn

There was arnsilence after that that began to stretch uncomfortably, at least for Harry. Hernwas about to say goodbye to the odd girl and be on his way when Luna talkedrnagain.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Knowledgernis power, Harry Potter," she said. "Sometimes too much power to leave it forrnanyone to take and use, but sometimes it's not for us to decide who gets to takernit or not."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnstared at her confused. "What are you talking about? About the books?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You don'trnwant anyone to read them."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Of coursernnot!" He exclaimed with a frown. "It's my life they're telling. It's no one'srnbusiness but mine."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"That mayrnbe, but perhaps you should give the writers of the letter a bit more credit,"rnshe replied, not bothered by his outburst.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnsettled down, even more confused. "What do you mean?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Well, Irnthink they know what they're doing, don't you?" She said calmly. "They could'vernsent you the letter and the books when you were alone instead of in the middlernof the Great Hall with students from three different schools and officers fromrnthe Ministry present. But they didn't, and they brought even more people."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"So… you'rernsaying that they wanted me to read the books with everyone," Harry stated morernthan asked. The worst thing was that Luna's words made sense. And that wasrnannoying because it meant that all the plans he had been half cooking in hisrnbrain the whole night to be able to read the books just with Ron and Hermionernwere for nothing.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Itrncertainly seems so, doesn't it?" Luna hummed distractedly. "The letter did sayrnthat they would help a lot of people not make a few bad choices. These booksrnare their second chance in a way, without having to do it wrong the firstrntime."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry thoughtrnabout it. Could whoever had sent the letter really know what they were doing?rnHe had believed they were crazy for having brought Sirius, but now hisrngodfather may have a chance to clean his name. Reading the books with everyonernseemed like an even worse idea, but maybe… maybe they were onto something. Itrnwasn't that farfetched to think that they knew something that he didn't whenrnthey were from the future.

rnrn

 

rnrn

With arnheavy sigh, he resigned himself to the fact that his life was going to be thernrecurrent topic of conversation the following days. Why did these things had tornhappen to him?

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Thank you,rnLuna," he said, running a hand through his hair.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You'rernquite welcome, Harry Potter," she said, smiling kindly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You canrncall me Harry, you know," he smiled, amused. "What are you doing up here sornearly anyway? I thought everyone would be asleep."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Oh, I wasrnlooking for my shoes," she answered nonchalantly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnblinked, caught of guard. His eyes traveled down until they found ten pale toesrnpeeking out of Luna's school robes. "You've lost your shoes?" He asked. Hernlooked up at her confused. "Wait. Why would your shoes be in the owlery?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Someonernhas taken them. People take my things sometimes and they hide them. My shoesrnwere up here last time so I thought that maybe they would be here again," Lunarnexplained, seemingly unbothered by it.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry's jawrndropped. He was no stranger to bullies, he had often been the target at onernpoint or another, especially before coming to Hogwarts. They had bothered him,rnsure, but their mere mention had never sent the surge of fury that ran throughrnhim when Luna said people were bothering her. How could they bully this girl?rnWell, he could see why she was a target, with her odd appearance and even odderrnpersonality, but still. How dare theyrnbully Luna? The short time he had talked with her, she had been nothing butrnsweet and kind with him and had helped him set his head straight.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Who doesrnthat to you?" He asked angry.

rnrn

 

rnrn

She waved arnhand dismissively. "Just people," she said. "Maybe it was the nargles, though.rnThey like to hide things sometimes. That's why I've begun to wear this," shernsaid, tugging at her necklace of butterbeer caps. "To keep them away."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Nargles?"rnHarry repeated confused. He was beginning to wonder if this was the commonrnfeeling people had around this girl. "What are nargles?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Oh,rnthey're little creatures that like to steal people's things and they returnrnthem much later, but I kind of need my shoes now, so I was looking for them,"rnshe said happily.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Deciding tornpush the nargles to the back of his mind for the moment, Harry went back to thernmain problem. "And you think they're in the owlery?" He asked sceptically.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Maybe.rnBoth people and nargles find it funny for some reason."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Looking atrnLuna's bare feet and remembering how the floor of the owlery was usuallyrndropping-strewn, Harry could only think that it was more cruel than funny. Itrnwasn't funny at all. And if those nargles, whatever they were, agreed withrnbullies, perhaps Harry was going to have to start wearing butterbeer capsrnaround his neck to keep them away, too.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I've justrnbeen there, but I haven't seen any shoes, Luna," he said, trying to keep hisrnvoice even. "I'm gonna take another look just in case, alright? Just, don'trnenter the owlery until we find you some shoes, okay?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

Lunarnsmiled. "That's very chivalrous of you, Harry. Thank you," she said as hernwalked back inside.

rnrn

 

rnrn

He searchedrnthe entire room, making sure he didn't miss anything, but Luna's shoes weren'trnthere.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I can'trnfind them, Luna. I'm sorry," he apologized with a frown as he returned. He knewrnit wasn't his fault, but he couldn't help but feel sorry for her. She didn'trndeserve this.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The girlrnfrowned for an instance before smiling again. "That's alright, Harry," shernsaid. "I'll look for them later, after we finish reading for today."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnclenched his jaw. It was the first day of November and, while the inside therncastle wasn't as cold as the outside, it was still a castle made of stone inrnScotland. Luna's bare feet had to be frozen and she was going to get sick atrnthis rate.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"C'mon," herndecided on the spot, grabbing her hand and leading her in the oppositerndirection. "We're gonna find you some shoes until we can find yours."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Oh," shernseemed surprised at this. "That's very kind of you, but not really necessary."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I know,"rnHarry said, gritting his teeth. "I still want to do it."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Oh. Okay,"rnshe said, linking her arm through his and walking beside him with a skip in herrnsteps.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrngrinned amused and walked her to the Gryffindor tower.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Morning,"rnhe greeted the Fat Lady when they reached the portrait. "Balderdash."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Morning,"rnshe yawned. "And good morning to you, too, dear," she added, smiling at Luna.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Goodrnmorning, ma'am," the girl smiled pleasantly as the portrait turned on itsrnhinges.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Harry!" Arnvoice greeted them when they entered. Hermione was in the common room with arncrossed expression on her face. "Where were you?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I couldn'trnsleep," he shrugged. "Where's Ron? Still sleeping?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"No. He'srnjust gone up for the map to look for you," she explained.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Hermione!"rnThe redhead's voice came down the stairs. "It makes no sense! It says he's…" Herntrailed off as he entered and his eyes fell on his best friend. "Here," hernfinished with a deadpanned voice.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Morning,"rnHarry grinned wryly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron scowledrnat him. "Couldn't you have left a note before you disappeared?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I didn'trnknow you would wake up before I came back," Harry said defensively. "I justrnbumped into Luna here and-"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Luna?rnWho's Luna?" Ron asked bewildered.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'm Luna.rnLuna Lovegood," the girl waved her hand happily.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And thesernand Ron and Hermione," Harry introduced them quickly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Uh,rnalright," Ron said slowly. His eyes went from the radish earrings to thernbutterbeer caps to the wand behind her ear to the crest on her chest. Hernfrowned. "Harry, why have you brought a Ravenclaw to the tower?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"She needsrnshoes," Harry stated firmly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron andrnHermione's eyes went to the are toes that were visibly wriggling under thernschool robes.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"O-kay,"rnthe boy said slowly. Maybe he was missing something here. "Why doesn't she havernshoes? Why does she have to come here to get a pair?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Thernnargles took them. Or maybe some people," Luna said distractedly as she lookedrnaround with a curious expression. "You have a beautiful common room. I likernit," she declared.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron blinkedrnand looked at Harry, who only shrugged. He returned his gaze to the blond girl.rn"Thanks?" He said hesitantly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You sayrnthat people took your shoes?" Hermione asked with a heavy frown.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Lunarnhummed, still looking around. "Maybe. I still think it could have been thernnargles. I'm positive they're the ones who have taken my favourite t-shirtrntoo."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermionernopened her mouth to ask what nargles were. She had never heard of somethingrnlike that. But Harry interrupted her.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Hermione,rncan you do something about the shoes?" He pleaded with her. He had no idearnwhere to get a pair of shoes that Luna would be able to use since the onlyrnother pair of shoes he had were the sneakers the Dursleys had given him aboutrnsix years prior and that were falling to pieces. But if anyone could findrnanother pair of shoes, it would be Hermione.

rnrn

 

rnrn

His bestrnfriend stared at him for a second. She sighed and rolled her eyes. "I'll bernright back," she said as she went to her dormitory. She came back a minuternlater with a pair of white sneakers and white socks. "Here. You can use minernuntil we can find yours. These are starting to be a bit too tight for me so Irnthink they'll fit you."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Thank you,rnHermione," she smiled, taking them and putting them on. "They fit quiternnicely."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You'rernwelcome," Hermione said, smiling politely.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Where arernthe others?" Harry asked.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Ginny andrnthe twins have gone to breakfast already. I s'ppose the others will too," Ronrnshrugged, his eyes wandering back to the blond girl who was humming under herrnbreath. What was with her?

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We shouldrnget going," Harry sighed. "Just let me grab the first book."

rnrn

 

rnrn

He dartedrnupstairs and opened his trunk, where he had put the books the night before. Hisrneyes were drawn towards the letter. He knew that handwriting from somewhere,rnbut he couldn't put his finger on it. It was like it had changed a lot sincernwhatever he remembered it from. He hoped that whoever it belonged to knew whatrnthey were doing and that Luna was right when she said that the books were meantrnto be read by everyone.

rnrn

 

rnrn

When hernlooked at the books again, wondering how he was going to know which one was thernfirst one since they had mixed them up the night before, he almost gasped inrnsurprise. There, on the front cover of the thinnest one, the dark Gryffindor redrnone, golden-coloured words had appeared where it had been blurry the nightrnbefore.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Well, thatrntook care of the problem. There was no doubt what year that book talked about.rnHe grabbed it and closed his trunk again before going back downstairs. Thernsight that greeted him almost made him laugh. Luna was still humming, swingingrnback and forth on the balls of her feet, while Ron stared at her baffled andrnamused and Hermione was frowning in confusion.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Ready?"rnThe brunette asked when she saw him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Ready,"rnHarry nodded. "Let's go. We shouldn't keep them waiting any longer."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron andrnHermione stared at his back stunned. "Waiting?" They repeated as they hurriedrnto catch up.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You'vernchanged your mind? You're gonna let them read the books with us?" Ron asked. Hernwasn't sure whether he agreed with this or not. The others would certainly bernhappier and they would stop pester them about the books, but Harry, Hermionernand he were going to get into a lot of trouble.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Yeah,"rnHarry nodded simply, sending a brief look at the blond walking next to them. Itrndidn't go unnoticed by his two best friends.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Shernconvinced you?" Hermione asked, not bothering to hide her surprise. "Yournconvinced him?" She asked the girl, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I merelyrnsaid that whoever sent the books must have had a reason to give them to him inrnfront of everybody instead of doing it when they knew that he would be alone,"rnthe blond shrugged calmly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You sayrnthat they wanted everyone to know what we've been up to?" Ron askedrnsceptically.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It makesrnsense," Hermione said grudgingly. "If they're powerful enough to put Hogwartsrnin a time bubble, make these books and bring people to the castle in spite ofrnthe wards, they could've given Harry the books whenever. They wanted people tornknow about them, and probably read them, too."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"But why?"rnRon asked frustrated.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Secondrnchances," Harry answered.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"To givernpeople second chances without them having to fuck up the first ones," the boyrnsaid, repeating Luna's words. More or less.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And yournhave to pay the price so that these people have a second chance?" Ron snarled,rnnot happy at all.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnfaltered, but then he strengthened his resolve. "Maybe it will be worth it."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And maybernnot," his best friend snapped. It was going to be difficult enough to readrnthese books without everyone witnessing it and wanting to add their opinions.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Maybe,"rnHarry shrugged. "But I think I'm gonna trust whoever sent the letter. Sirius isrngetting a chance to be free because of them."

rnrn

 

rnrn

That madernRon falter in return. "Mate, that's some messed up logic…"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"The wholernsituation is messed up, Ron," Harry pointed out. There was nothing normal aboutrnthis, and, taking into account how lousy his definition of normal was, that wasrnsaying something.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I don'trnlike it, Harry," Hermione said, pursing her lips.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harryrnhesitated. "Me neither. But I have an idea so that we at least don't get intorntrouble, okay?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Whatrnidea?" The girl asked warily. Harry's ideas tended to be a bit… drastic.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"A goodrnone. You'll see," he promised as they entered the Great Hall.

rnrn

 

rnrn

It wasrnbrimming with students. It seemed like everyone had got up early at thernprospect of possibly finding out what Harry Potter and his two best friends hadrndone the last three years and what they would be doing in the future. Mostrnheads turned towards them when they entered, even from those wearing blue orrnred robes, but they did their best to ignore it.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"See yournlater, Harry. Thank you for the shoes, Hermione. It was nice to meet you, Ron,"rnLuna said dreamily as she skipped towards the Ravenclaw table.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron grinnedrnamused. "She's weird, but I think I like her."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"C'mon," Harry said, having located the Weasleys, Sirius and Remus. Itrnwasn't difficult to find the mass of redheads between all the students.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Heads turned as they walked towards thernGryffindor table. Harry could practically feel the hundreds of eyes glued tornthe book in his hands, but he took care to keep the front cover with the titlernhidden. He had already checked and the pages were still blank while the coversrnwere still the same plain Gryffindor red.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Good morning," he said as they took a seat.rnThere were three free places, like they had been saved for the three of them.rnIt wouldn't have surprised him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

There were several greetings in return, butrnevery eye was fixed on the red book on his lap with the cover down.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Harry…" Sirius began hesitantly. He wanted tornask him if he had changed his mind, or make up his mind or whatever. He neededrnto know if Harry was going to let them join the reading.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Can you pass me the jelly, Sirius?" Harryrninterrupted as he grabbed some toast.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The animagus sighed, handing him the bottle andrnshutting up about the book. He could take a hint from time to time.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Breakfast was an awkward affair, full ofrnwhispers and forced conversations. People kept shooting glances at Harry'srnplate to see if it was already empty. It was enough to make the boy considerrneating more than usual just to annoy everyone and delay the reading, but evenrnhe wasn't that cruel. And he may be a bit influenced by the fact that the nightrnbefore he had been just as impatient as them as he waited for Dumbledore tornfinish his dinner. Perhaps if the headmaster had finished earlier, theyrnwouldn't be in this conundrum.

rnrn

 

rnrn

As soon as Harry laid his empty cup of pumpkinrnjuice on the table and he didn't reach for anything else, Dumbledore stood up.rnIt seemed like even the professors and the Ministry officers had been waitingrnfor him to finish. He was surprised that nobody had tried to make him hurry.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Good morning, everyone," the old headmasterrnsaid pleasantly. "First of all, I would like to introduce the newcomers thatrnappeared yesterday. Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks-"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Just Tonks," the pink-haired witch said with arnhint of a growl as she stood up next to the tall black wizard.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Who are aurors from the Ministry," Dumbledorerncontinued like he hadn't been interrupted. "Arthur Weasley, who works in thernDepartment of Misuse of Muggle Artifacts, and his wife Molly Weasley. Their sonsrnWilliam Weasley, who works for Gringotts breaking curses; Charles Weasley, whornworks with dragons in Rumania; and Percival Weasley, who works in thernDepartment of International Magical Cooperation."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Dumbledore tactfully didn't mention how hisrnboss was the same man they had found controlled under the Imperius Curse thernday before. The poor boy was already beating himself up about it enough withoutrnadding more fuel to the fire.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Many of you may remember Remus Lupin, who wasrnthe professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts last year here at Hogwarts-"rnDumbledore was interrupted once more, this time by many students who cheeredrnfor their ex-professor.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Remus blushed at the reaction, an embarrassedrnbut pleased grin splitting his face in two. He would have never imagined that almostrnnone of the students cared about his furry little problem.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Who knew that Professor Moony would be sornpopular one day?" Sirius teased him, elbowing him in the ribs.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Sirius Black, which I'm sure all or most ofrnyou heard about last year," Dumbledore continued when the noise decreased. "Ifrnthe letter was right, we will all be learning the truth about him and his pastrnin one of the books."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry clenched his jaw. He hated how Dumbledorernwas already taking for granted that they were going to read the books. Whatrnabout his opinion? Didn't it count for anything? Whether it did or not forrnDumbledore, the headmaster was going to hear it and he was going to respect it.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And finally, Alastor Moody, the real one thisrntime," the old man finished.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The ex-auror was sitting not far fromrnDumbledore. He was thinner than the imposter had been, which came to reasonrnwhen they remembered that he had spent a few months prisoner, and he wasrnmissing a few chunks of hair, probably used for the Polyjuice Potion. He wasrnscowling at everybody around him and he had one hand buried inside the pocketrnof his jacket. They didn't need to belong to Ravenclaw to know that he had arndeath grip on his wand. If the man had been paranoid before, everyonernimmediately decided that it would be suicide to try to catch him off guard now.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Poor man," Hermione muttered under her breath.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And poor us," Ron moaned. "He's gonna be arnnightmare as a teacher if he stays when the classes begin again."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'm certainly not gonna approach him fromrnbehind," Harry declared. He didn't want to receive a nasty curse to the gutrnjust because the man hadn't seen him coming or hadn't heard him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Now that the introductions are out of the way,rnwe will begin reading the books-" Dumbledore said happily, clapping his handsrnlike he was ecstatic with what they were going to do.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"No," Harry interrupted firmly, making everyonernturn to look at him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The headmaster's smile faltered. "No?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"No," the boy repeated. "My life, my decisions.rnIt's that simple, Professor. And, quite frankly, I don't want anyone to readrnit-"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Preposterous!" Karkaroff interrupted, hittingrnthe table with his fist. "Boy, this isn't something you have a say in."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry narrowed his eyes at the challenge.rn"Isn't it? I believe the letter said that you need my approval to read thernbooks."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Dumbly-dorr, are you going to tolerate thisrnkind of defiance?" Madame Maxime asked disapprovingly.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Mr. Potter has always had a few… privilegesrnthat allow him to get out of line more often than any other student," Snapernsneered.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Except that this isn't a normal situation,rnSeverus," McGonagall came to his defense. "I'm not sure we can even consider itrnpart of the school activities."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"'e should still respect 'is 'eadmaster,"rnMadame Maxime huffed.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I do respect Professor Dumbledore," Harryrnintervened again. "I just don't like how you all assume you're gonna be presentrnfor the reading."

rnrn

 

rnrn

This was followed by an instant of stillnessrnbefore the Great Hall erupted into chaos. The Gryffindors had already heardrnthis the night before in the common room, but the rest of the school wasrnshocked and indignant. In the end, Dumbledore had to shoot fireworks with hisrnwand to calm everyone down.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Mr. Potter," he said when it was quiet again.rn"I'm sure you know that this is a matter of utter importance in which we shouldrnbe present, at least the school staff and the Ministry officers."

rnrn

 

rnrn

That caused all the students to beginrnprotesting again. What did he mean by that? That they couldn't be present? Nornway. This was their opportunity to learn what had been going on in Hogwartsrnwith Harry and his two friends.

rnrn

 

rnrn

When Dumbledore managed to quiet everyonernagain, he continued. "You can't possibly want to keep that information secret,rnMr. Potter."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"As a matter of fact, that was the initial plan,"rnHarry admitted, ignoring all the complains. "I planned to hide with Ron andrnHermione until we finished the books and we would then share the importantrninformation with everyone. I'm sure we would've managed to hide and evaderneverybody for long enough."

rnrn

 

rnrn

And they would have. They knew the schoolrnpretty well and they had the invisibility cloak and the Maraders' map. It wouldrnhave been quite difficult for anyone to catch them.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"However," he continued, rising his voice to bernheard above the noise growing in volume. Everyone quietened in an instant.rn"Someone pointed out to me that if the books were sent to me in front of thernthree schools and several Ministry workers and they even brought more people,rnit was probably because they wanted those people to listen."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Many people looked at Ron and Hermione,rnespecially the latter. If anyone was capable of making the stubborn Gryffindorrnchange his mind, it could only be them. No one seemed to remember the blondrnRavenclaw that had arrived at the same time as them.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"That's good," Dumbledore smiled satisfied.rn"Then we can proceed with the reading…"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Not yet, Professor. I'm sorry," Harry cut himrnoff again. He wished they would stop getting ahead of themselves so that hernwouldn't have to keep interrupting the headmaster. It was awkward doing thatrnand he was beginning to feel quite rude.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Dumbledore!" Karkaroff exclaimed outraged atrnthat blatant lack of respect.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry ignored him. "I have one conditionrnfirst," he said. "No one will have to face any kind of consequences forrnanything we read in the books. They were sent to help and fix mistakes, not tornpunish for past or future actions."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You've done something big that will get yourninto trouble, haven't you, Potter?" Snape smirked triumphantly. He could stillrnget that brat expelled.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Maybe," Harry answered. "You'll have to readrnthe books to find out and none of you will find out unless you swear therernwon't be consequences for anyone here."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You insolent brat, you can't blackmail us likernthat," the head of Slytherin glared furious.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry glared back, not intimidated at all.rn"It's not blackmail, Professor," he said. It took all his self-control to callrnhim that, but he knew that he couldn't push it even more than he was alreadyrndoing it. "It's called setting a few limits so that these bloody books can't bernused against me and who I care about. It's my life and I'm not gonna enjoyrnhaving it in the open for everyone to comment on it. The last thing I want isrnto have to face punishments or expulsions for things I had to do for one reasonrnor another. And they were always good reasons."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Dumbly-dorr, you can't possibly agree wizrnzis," Madame Maxime said incensed. If a student had done something bad enoughrnto deserve an expulsion, he had to get it no matter how the infraction had comernto light.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Dumbledore was staring at Harry pensively. Hernknew that look of pure stubbornness on his student. He knew that Harry wouldn'trngive in on this. He had known that he would have to fight Harry to manage to bernallowed to read the books and the teenager had already agreed to that. Hernwasn't going to give in on anything else.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Very well," he agreed, silencing every singlernperson that was making his opinion known.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"What?" Snape hissed furious.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"It's a reasonable request," the headmasterrnreplied. "This is a unique occurrence and it wouldn't be fair to use it tornpunish anyone when its purpose was the complete opposite, to give secondrnchances." He looked around with his eyebrows raised. "Besides, can anyone herernbe totally sure that there will be nothing… compromising about them in thesernbooks?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

No one spoke up. Truthfully, no one was surernabout what they were going to find out. Everyone in Hogwarts knew that Harry foundrnout secrets almost on accident and that he was usually in the thick of things.rnThey didn't want to risk something bad being about them.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I guess we agree then," Dumbledore smiledrnafter a minute when no one said anything. He returned his gaze to Harry.rn"Something else, Mr. Potter?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Just that we stop the reading if I, or anyonernelse, need a break," the boy said after thinking for a moment.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Of course," the headmaster nodded. That wasrnjust common sense. "Now, please, if everyone could draw their wands and repeatrnafter me to make the oath. Remember that anyone who doesn't make it won't bernable to listen and will forget everything."

rnrn

 

rnrn

There was a rustle of robes as everybodyrnhurried to draw their wands. Nobody wanted to miss this, even if they weren'trnhappy about having to make an oath.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Wait! I don't have a wand!" Sirius calledrnpanicked. If he didn't have a wand, he wouldn't be able to make the oath. Andrnif he wasn't able to make the oath, he wouldn't be able to find out what hisrngodson had been up to.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Here," Harry said, pulling out his own to lendrnit to him. "You can use mine to make the oath."

rnrn

 

rnrn

The animated relaxed, taking the wand gingerlyrnand examining it carefully. It was a good wand, a very good one. "Thanks,rnHarry," he said relieved.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Alright, everyone. Repeat after me, justrnchanging my name with yours," Dumbledore called them to attention. "I, AlbusrnPercival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, swear on my magic that I won't reveal the existencernof the books connected to one Harry James Potter or their contents to anyonernwho isn't already aware of this knowledge."

rnrn

 

rnrn

There was a cacophony of voices as everyonernrepeated the oath, word by word, and everybody slowly fell silent again. Theyrnwere fidgeting nervously because it was the first magical oath for many ofrnthem. Those who hadn't known what it was had learnt the night before thernconsequences of breaking one and they hadn't liked them. None of them wanted tornlose their magic and risk their life in the process.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I think this will suffice, won't it, Mr. Potter?"rnDumbledore asked, looking at his student. He smiled pleased when he received arnnod in response. "Wonderful. Then, if you could be so kind as to bring thatrnbook you're holding here so we can begin reading."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry sighed and stood up to hand the book tornhis headmaster. "I'll bring the next one when we finish this one. Is that okayrnwith you, Professor?" He asked. He would really feel better if he knew that thernbooks were safe and nobody would steal them and begin reading on their own,rnwhich would not be fun for him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Dumbledore nodded. "If you feel morerncomfortable that way, Mr. Potter," he replied, guessing where his thoughts wererngoing.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Thank you, Professor," Harry nodded in reliefrnbefore going back to his seat.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Everyone, if you could please stand up for arnmoment," Dumbledore asked, looking at his colleagues and the aurors to includernthem in this request.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Everyone obeyed with a wide range of reactions,rnfrom curiosity to annoyance to impatience. However, there were only happyrnexclamations when the tables and hard benches were substituted with comfortablerncouches, armchairs and puffs of different colours.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"That's much better," the old headmaster saidrnsatisfied as he took a seat in a maroon armchair with a tall back rest. Hernwatched amused as the students hurried to take places next to their friends andrnpushed the couches together.

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rnrn

"Hey, Charlie," the pink-haired witch said asrnshe walked over to the Weasleys, Harry, Hermione and the two Marauders. "Mindrnif I join you? If I stay with Kingsley and the others a minute longer, I'mrngonna go nuts."

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rnrn

Charlie chuckled and pushed Bill, whom he wasrnsharing a couch with, so he would scoot over. "You just missed me. C'mon, admitrnit," he teased her. They had been on the same year in Hogwarts, but they hadn'trntalked much since they had graduated.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The metamorphmagus snorted. "Those dragons surernhave given you more than a bump to the head if you believe that."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Charlie grinned. "Ouch," he mock-gasped,rnraising a hand to his chest. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you haven'trnmissed me."

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rnrn

Tonks grinned at him, not giving him an answer.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Just put him out of his misery," Bill groaned.rn"He won't shut up otherwise."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"You know each other?" Ginny asked. She hadrnchosen an armchair where she was curled with her feet under her.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"We were friends at Hogwarts," Charlie grinned.rn"You probably don't remember her. I'm not sure you even met her."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"I'm unforgettable, Charles Weasley," Tonksrnhuffed, her hair changing to deep purple and her nose turning into a pig snout.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ginny gasped. "I remember you!"

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rnrn

Tonks grinned and returned to her previousrnappearance. "Course you do," she said, smirking at Charlie. "See?rnUnforgettable."

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"How did you do that?" Harry asked wide-eyed.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The witch smirked at him. "I'm arnmetamorphmagus. I can change my appearance at will. Useful for an auror."

rnrn

 

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"Can anyone learn to do that?" He askedrneagerly.

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rnrn

"It's an ability that's inherited, Harry,"rnHermione explained, knowing what he was thinking. Sometimes Harry just wantedrnto disappear and stop being stared at, to simply blend with the crowd so theyrnwould leave him alone. It had become less bothersome over the years, but it wasrnstill annoying.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry deflated disappointed. "Oh."

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rnrn

"Sorry, Harry," Tonks shrugged. "She's right."

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rnrn

Slowly, every student found a seat they werernpleased with and they turned to look at Dumbledore. It was then that he made arnmistake.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Who wants to start reading?" He asked.

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rnrn

A cacophony of voices exploded, hands rose inrnthe air, students stood up on their seats to try to be seen better, argumentsrnbegan, a few children ended up sprawled on the floor when they were pushedrnaccidentally or not so accidentally.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Enough!" Dumbledore's voice boomed in thernGreat Hall, silencing every discussion instantly. "This won't do at all," hernsighed. He was going to say that it would better if only the adults read sincernthey couldn't agree on anything, but a high-pitched voice caught his attention.

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rnrn

"If I may, Albus," Flitwick said, holding outrnhis hand to take the book. "I know a spell that would be perfect for thisrnoccasion."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Thank you, Filius," Dumbledore sighedrngratefully, handing over the book. It would certainly make things easier ifrnthey didn't have to argue about who read what.

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rnrn

The tiny professor waved his wand over thernbook, which rose into the air until it was floating about a foot aboverneverybody's head.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"There," he said satisfied. "It's a spell thatrnI've used on many an occasion when I wanted to read a book while I didrnsomething else. Now the book will read itself aloud and, like a person would ifrninterrupted, it will stop if someone talks."

rnrn

 

rnrn

Hermione gasped. "That's brilliant!" Sherngushed, itching to go ask the professor of Charms how to do that spell. Itrnwould be incredibly useful and she could see that she wasn't the only onerninterested in learning how to do it.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Ron rolled his eyes. "Mad, that's what she is,"rnhe murmured under his breath so that only Harry, who was sitting between themrnon the couch, would hear him.

rnrn

 

rnrn

Harry smirked. He knew that the spell couldrncome in handy, but he had to agree with Ron that Hermione seemed a little toornexcited about it.

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rnrn

"Is everyone ready?" Dumbledore asked.

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"Wait!" A blonde girl from Beauxbatonsrnexclaimed. She was the veela girl that had come for the bouillabaisse to thernGryffindor table. "'ow do we know zat is ze first book? You said yesterday zeyrnwere blank."

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"Très bien, Ms. Delacour," Madame Maxime smiledrnapprovingly. She looked back at Dumbledore with a raised eyebrow. "Et bien,rnDumbly-dorr?"

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Excuse me, Madame Maxime," Harry intervened.rn"I'm the one who knew that was the first one. It was the only one with therntitle complete this morning and, well, I've lived through it and the title saysrnit all."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"And what is zat title?" The headmistressrnasked.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"HarryrnPotter and the Philosopher's Stone," Harry answered. Murmurs broke outrnacross Great Hall. "I know it doesn't make sense right now, but it will whenrnwe're further along in the story."

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Very well," Madame Maxime nodded.

rnrn

 

rnrn

"Then, let's begin," Dumbledore said satisfied.rn"Filius, please," he said nodding towards the book.

rnrn

 

rnrn

The tiny professor happily waved his wand atrnthe book and it opened on the first page.

rnrn


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