Chapter 7: Back to Hogwarts
Time was passing quickly and the preparations for the beginning of terms were under way. Professor McGonagall informed Harry that she had found for him a classroom under the dormitory of the Gryffindor Tower with an adjacent suite like the specific classrooms belonging to a professor. She had been careful to conceal it, giving it a name which was the password, and made Harry the Secret Keeper. Dobby was allowed to come to Hogwarts to serve Harry but he would stay in the quarter reserved to the elves, and work in the kitchen. Harry arrived at Hogwarts in the afternoon of the first of September, before the other students, by Apparition. He landed discreetly outside the castle, wearing the Invisibility Cloak. Harry had bought a brand new small suitcase to put part of his things. He marked it in Hermione’s name and Hermione would take it with her as part of her own things The rest of his things Harry kept in his bag, hidden under his Invisibility Cloak.
Ron and Hermione had received letters from Hogwarts naming them ‘Head Boy’ and’ Head Girl’. That was a very good piece of news for them, for it meant that they would be able to move freely in the school, even during ‘curfew’ hours.
For Mr and Mrs Weasley, Ginny, Gabrielle and all the members of the Order, Harry would not return to school, he would be in his chalet in Austria. The Head Quarters were to be guarded by one or two members of the Order, mostly by Moody, Lupin or Tonks who were freer than the others.
The day of the beginning of terms passed as it had been planned. Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Gabrielle arrived at King’s Cross with Mr and Mrs Weasley.
Mrs Weasley seeing Hermione with two suitcases, asked :
“How many sets of books and clothes are you bringing with you ?”
“Oh ! I’ve brought some complete sets of books about Defence Against the Dark Arts with me to improve myself ”, Hermione replied ingenuously.
“Oh, Mum, does it surprise you ? If Hermione could bring along all the books of Flourish & Blotts, she wouldn’t hesitate !” said Ron.
“That’s right, Mum”, added Ginny, amused at Ron’s joke, for Hermione was a well known book worm.
Five minutes after the departure of the Hogwarts Express, all the students in all the compartments knew that neither Harry nor Malfoy were coming back to school. For Malfoy, nobody made any comments, but the fact that Harry didn’t return to school aroused various and mixed feelings among the students.
Most of them thought of Harry with compassion. Now that Dumbledore is dead, what could he do against Voldemort ? A young apprentice wizard against the greatest and most pitiless dark wizard the world had ever known ! Others thought sadly, specially the students of Gryffindor who used to have him in their house. It was Harry who had helped Gryffindor win the house cup during these last many years. Others thought that perhaps it would be better this way, for his presence in the school might attract the Death Eaters there and endanger their life.
“Is it true that Harry is not coming back to school ?” asked Neville. “It’s really sad. Suddenly I feel that I no longer want to return to Hogwarts”.
“So do I. It doesn’t interest me any more to come back to school”, said Luna. “He didn’t say anything at your brother’s wedding, Ron !”
“No, he didn’t say anything ! But he is always very discreet, you know him well”, Ron replied. “The only reason he gave us, is that he feared his presence in the school would endanger his friends !”
There were, however, more students than McGonagall had hoped. She had thought that perhaps only half of the students would come back, but in reality there were many more.
The beginning of the term was really sad. The atmosphere of the feast in the Great Hall, usually so cheerful and animated by the noisy students after a two months’ separation, had been taken over by a gloomy look from everybody, from the teachers to the students, they all were affected by Dumbledore’s death and Harry’s absence.
The song of the Sorting Hat once again insisted, as usual since Voldemort’s return, on the solidarity between the houses, but this year its advice seemed to affect the students more deeply. The students on their own felt willing to strike up a friendship with the others. They were more ready to shake other hands which waited like themselves a friendly manifestation from the others ... Except, of course, from the Slytherins. It was definitely a Slytherin who, last year, had smuggled the Death Eaters into Hogwarts, and caused Dumbledore’s death. This was the way they saw the whole story.
Harry was very pleased with the arrangement McGonagall had made. He had for himself the large classroom and behind the classroom his private bureau, his sleeping room, bathroom, and toilets. All Dumbledore’s personal books and ornaments were there, on the bookshelves behind his desk. Harry was very pleased; he would have enough to read. No sooner had he arrived in his class than Harry added a special curse to repel all the ghosts of the castle and Peeves, the poltergeist. Dobby also added a special curse of his own. Harry had planned a meeting with his friends at 11 o’clock. Hermione and Ron should meet Dobby at the foot of the Gryffindor staircase, and Dobby would show them to Harry’s class.
Harry had just been on his rounds to inspect all the books on the shelves when Dobby’s signal told him that Ron and Hermione were there. Under his Invisibility Cloak, he went out and whispered the password in Ron and Hermione’s ears, and then they all entered the class. It was also of Hermione and Ron’s opinion that McGonagall’s arrangements were brilliant and it gave Hermione an idea, which was also inspired by the general sentiment of the students after the Sorting Hat’s song that Hermione felt.
She reported to Harry how gloomy the feast had been and what she thought of the general atmosphere, then she suggested :
“And what if we re-formed the Dumbledore’s Army to strengthen the solidarity between the houses, except the Slytherins, of course ? You see, last year, there were only five of us to deal with the Death Eaters. You were away with Dumbledore. If this year, they attack us again, we will have an Army. I am sure that many of the students would welcome that idea; I became aware of this feeling when the Sorting Hat insisted on the solidarity between the houses. Some former members of the D.A. asked us in the train, why we had not called them when the Death Eaters were here last year. And this year we are lucky enough to have a large classroom of our very own, and there is no Umbridge to annoy us ! Ron and I are Head Boy and Head Girl, that also makes it easier for the members to come and go.”
“Yes”, Ron reinforced. “It’s a very good idea. I feel the despair of the students, not only because of Dumbledore’s death but also for your being away ! Everybody asked us if we had any news of you. We told them that you were at Bill’s wedding, and then we did not get any other news from you. They love you very much, you are their hope now, since Dumbledore’s death and with Voldemort operating in the open”.
“Yes, may be. But they should not know that I’ve come back to school. You should explain to them that for the training days, I would come specially from outside, and that you would smuggle me in, taking advantage of your status as Head Boy and Girl. And we should bear in mind that we will have a lot to do such as the tracking down and destruction of the remaining Horcruxes, and the final confrontation with Voldemort. So the rhythm of our meetings would not be more than once a week ! What do you think of it ? And we should be careful in the choice of the members.”
“Yes”, Ron approved … “What’s that ?”, he added pointing at a shallow stone basin with odd carvings around the edge and which was on a tripod beside Harry’s desk.
“It’s the Pensieve”, Harry replied. “I’ll perhaps be able to show you Helga Hufflepuff’s cup”. Then with the point of his wand, Harry withdrew from his temple a silvery strand, neither liquid nor gaseous, and threw it in the Pensieve, and then he turned the contents of the basin with the tip of his wand. “Plunge your heads in it, you will see part of my memory, what I’ve seen with Dumbledore”.
“Who would have foretold that such a young and handsome student like him could become a mad serial killer later on ?” was Hermione’s comments when she withdrew her head from the basin.
“Where could we now find Helga’s cup ? We have no clue; it’s like trying to find a pin in the bottom of the sea !” Ron said in a desperate voice.
“But it’s better than nothing”, replied Harry. “At least, we know it’s Helga’s cup and how it looks like. While as for the fifth Horcrux, we don’t even know what it is supposed to be and how it looks like. We only know that it must be something belonging to Ravenclaw or Gryffindor !”
“It’s really demoralizing !”, replied Ron who, as always, preferred easy things.
“I am really glad for having inherited this from Dumbledore. I can now share with you what Dumbledore showed me … In which house is Gabrielle ?” added Harry after a moment of silence.
“Ravenclaw, and Luna adopted her at once, or rather they adopted each other. They’ve already met at Bill’s wedding”, Hermione replied.
“Good ! She will not be too lonely then ! Luna is a sensitive and sentimental person, I like her very much”, Harry said.
“Me too”, Ron admitted. “Tomorrow we’ll have double Potions with Slughorn, right in the morning”.
“Yes, I know, McGonagall gave me the timetable. I think that I’ll go and fetch the Prince’s Potions book. Even though I hate Rogue, his book is really precious. It could help us for certain potions and antidotes. Specially antidotes. Dumbledore wanted absolutely that I took him to Rogue, not to Mrs Pomfrey. Rogue is more competent in matters of potions.”
“Well, it’s late, we must go. Good night !” said Hermione.
“Good night to you both”, replied Harry. “I’ll go and fetch Rogue’s Potion book. I’ll wear the Invisibility Cloak”.
“We’ll come with you. With us, you can walk faster, even noisily.” And the three friends went to the Room of Requirement, where last year, Harry had hidden the Potions book of the Half Blood Prince.
Little by little, Harry’s life as an “invisible” student got itself organized. The three friends worked out a way for Harry to enter a class. They always let the other students enter first. Then it was always one of Ron or Hermione to go just before Harry and the other just behind him to close the classroom door Hermione and Ron would choose the last but one table, they would put their bags on each end of the last table, behind them, and Harry would stay in the middle of the two bags.
Harry was only a “free auditor”, he didn’t really take part in all the activities of the class; for example during the Potions lessons, Harry was there only to listen to the extra explanations of the Professor, but he didn’t prepare the potions. Meanwhile he read the Prince’s book, dissected the remarks noted by the Prince, and sometimes whispered to Hermione or Ron to try one of the Prince’s remarks to see what would be the result compared with the book which Hermione qualified as “official”.
There were some lessons which it was difficult for Harry to attend while wearing his Invisibility Cloak, for example Herbology, where the students frequently went about everywhere in the green house, looking either for a pot or for a bag of compost. These particular lessons, Harry often attended only at the beginning when Mrs Sprout explained the properties of the plants and how to handle them … as for the other details of the lessons he completed in reading his books in his room.
This year the students of Hogwarts had a new professor of Defence Against the Dart Arts (DADA), proposed by the Ministry. He was an Auror, nearly at the point of retirement, who wished a calmer life than that of a Death Eaters hunter. It was not Umbridge - which was already a good thing - but he was not at all on top to the taste of Harry, Hermione and Ron. For the three friends were already far advanced compared with the level taught by the former Auror. He progressed too slowly, in their opinion … Harry attended these lessons only to listen to his commentaries, critics, and to learn how to detect errors. Following the same lessons as his friends and learning the same things as them allowed Harry to be up to the level of the syllabus.
Owing to an inadequate staffing, Professor McGonagall still assumed the Transfiguration course on top of her new responsibility as Headmistress of Hogwarts. Poor McGonagall, she looked always exhausted, but Harry didn’t see anyone else who could replace Dumbledore better than her.
Ginny was named by Professor McGonagall Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. Harry thought that McGonagall had made a good choice, but he realized that he was no longer interested in Quidditch, nor Ron either. Ron didn’t register for the Tryout sessions. Ginny was furious that her brother could let her down in that way, for after all Ron was a good Quidditch player who had allowed Gryffindor win the Quidditch Cup the last previous two years.
Dumbledore’s books were a real treasure for Harry. Harry came to the conclusion that Dumbledore had learnt all by himself to become what he had been. That conclusion encouraged him to immerge himself in his books, to dissect them, and to train himself assiduously. Harry was determined to follow Dumbledore’s example. In a certain way, this life as an ‘Invisible’ student forced Harry to become a self-taught man, he learnt more by himself than with the professors. But he still stayed in the school because his two best friends were there.
Every evening, Ron and Hermione came to see Harry, and work with him. And so Harry learnt that at the last full moon, Lupin had not transformed either, though he had fully recovered from his wounds. It was the second full moon after Bill’s wedding.
“What could have cured Lupin ?”, asked Harry
“At St Mungo’s Hospital, the healers thought that perhaps Lupin has lost too much of his werewolf blood, and the blood formed by the Blood-Replenishing potion was normal blood. Lupin said so”, replied Hermione.
“It’s not a very sensible explanation,” said Harry. “The Blood-Replenishing potion is no blood ! It’s only a potion that helps the formation and the production of blood by the organs, by the spleen … I have an idea, I remember that Bill and Lupin were one on top of another. Bill was on top of Lupin. Bill was bitten by Greyback when Greyback was not transformed, not at full moon. Bill is no real werewolf. Bill’s blood might have worked out an antibody anti-werewolf. It would be enough for a particle of Bill’s blood entering Lupin’s body to create that miracle ! If my supposition is right, we may have a weapon against werewolves”.
“Yes, it’s quite sensible. We should watch the next full moon”, Hermione admitted. “I know how to make injection and take samples of blood. If need be, we’ll ask Bill to give us a sample, and we could have it analysed in a Muggle laboratory so as to know his blood group for example. I’m of the opinion that we should be broad-minded. There are good things in the Muggle world why not make use of these things ?”
“I entirely agree with you”, said Harry. “The other day at the wedding, I looked at Bill closely, because he was before me. I thought that an aesthetic surgical operation in a Muggle hospital surely could remove his scars, or make them less visible.”
“Certainly ! I do agree”, replied Hermione.
“That will be divine !” said Ron. “Poor Bill, he was such a handsome boy.”
“But he IS a handsome boy”, said Harry.
“They found Fudge stiff dead yesterday in his house, under the Dark Mark, apparently with no fighting, by an Avada Kedavra, said Hermione, changing the subject.
“Dad said that Scrimgeour trembled with fear when he learnt the news. He came on the place some minutes after the Dark Mark had been reported. He was white like a sheet of paper”, said Ron.
“It doesn’t surprise me”, said Harry. “He must have thought that he would be the next one. Everybody in his place would think so”.
What Harry liked most, was the weekends, when the weather was fine. Ron and Hermione often took a walk as ‘lovers’ near the lake. Harry could be with them, under his cloak, without fear of being discovered, for the other students never disturbed the lovers, and didn’t come near them either.
Ginny was very popular, as usual. She never ran short of boyfriends, but she didn’t show any interest in any of them in particular. She was always surrounded by many boys, but she remained friendly and cheerful with everybody. Little by little Harry learnt to consider Ginny as a sister, it even surprised himself to see that he could wish Ginny happy with a boy, whoever he was so long as it was her choice.
Gabrielle, very beautiful, natural, a little shy and reserved, was often seen with Luna, yet they were not in the same class. The boys often turned round to look at her when they crossed her on their way. She had made considerable progress in English and spoke with no accent, according to Hermione. Harry considered her as another sister, and realized that he was no longer interested in girls, and that girls’ stories no longer concerned him, so much he concentrated on Voldemort and on the tracking down of the remaining Horcrucres. And most of all, he didn’t want to engage himself with any girl for fear of making her suffer afterwards; if ever he should disappear after the confrontation with Voldemort.
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