Albus was once again pacing back and forth in his office, his typical characteristic jovial and serene expression gone in favor of a look that many people hadn’t seen in close to fifty years by this point. The paternal headmaster who always seemed to be there to comfort his students and staff in a time of crisis, replaced by the ill-tempered and sometimes ill-intended Gryffindor who had nearly gone over the edge into the abyss.
He hated what was happening. That bloody duel of his, nigh twenty years ago. He was arrogant, foolish even, and had taken a right shot at ending the menace of Lord Voldemort before it could begin, and had lost the loyalty of his wand, sent a child to live in a home without love, and was close to hexing himself for nearly setting the stage up for a repeat of event dyed in even worse blood.
Memories flashed to the sullen, withdrawn child in the orphanage. And then again to the sullen, withdrawn child in his office, covered in bruises and welts. Grindelwald’s reign of terror had burned the first half of the twentieth century alive; Voldemort’s reign had burnt most of the second half… and if things had gone much worse, if Minerva hadn’t intervened, if things continued on the path they were on then, Harry Potter’s reign of terror would burn the twenty-first century.
Albus took a deep breath and looked at Fawkes for answers. The phoenix simply trilled at him, causing the Headmaster to laugh quietly.
“You are right, Fawkes. I should have faith in Harry.”
Christmas was always a special time for Harry. By the time the frosty chill of mid-December settled in, Hogwarts was greeted with several feet of snow that buried the grounds in it’s slushy white embrace. The Black Lake had frozen solid, and everyone’s favorite Gryffindor troublemakers had gotten detentions for bouncing enchanted snowballs off the back of Professor Quirrell’s turban, much to the annoyance of said professor, who looked like he was going to have a case of apoplexy after the fact.
While the Slytherin common room and dorms, despite their placement in perhaps the coldest part of campus, was warm and toasty due to the hearth and enchantments placed upon the rooms, the dungeon corridors and classrooms were bitter cold. Potions was challenging as could be, given how numb everyone’s hands were through out the process.
The topic of “staying or going home” for Christmas was often thrown around. Harry wasn’t actually sure what he would be doing– his mothers were faculty, and if they decided that it wasn’t worth the couple hour trek from Hogsmeade to Wulver’s Hollow, then he’d spend his Christmas here at Hogwarts.
“Mister Potter,” Minerva had said one Transfiguration lesson. “Stay afterwards, if you wouldn’t mind,”
Harry did, and patiently waited for the last Ravenclaw to leave before his mother rose from her desk and folded her hands behind her back. “Harry, you’re not in trouble, so don’t worry. Lala and I have been discussing on if we want to stay here for Christmas or not.”
“It actually is okay with me either way,” Harry said, smiling. “I know we always spend Christmas at Wulver’s Hollow, but I’m okay with staying here too.”
“Then it’s settled, we’ll spend Christmas here,” Minerva said with a smile, hugging her son. “Now, run along, my lad.”
The remaining days of the term went by quickly. Harry had watched Hagrid put up the large tree in the Great Hall, and had found out that Ron and his brothers were staying behind as his parents were going to Dacia to see his brother Charlie. Harry soon found out, not long after, that he was the only Slytherin student staying behind for the holidays.
During the holidays, Harry actually spent quite a lot of time around Ron and his brothers, including in the Gryffindor common room where they spent quite a bit of time annoying each other and getting into loud debates over things like Quidditch. Harry and Ron frequently locked each other in a game of wizards’ chess, with Ron almost always narrowly beating Harry out, much to Harry’s consternation.
Harry was still worried about his relationship with Draco and Hermione, which hadn’t mended much since he’d blown up at both of them in the Great Hall. Draco had been less flippant, but had taken to simply ignoring Harry’s existence, or looking past him. They’d left for the holidays without saying as much as a goodbye, or acknowledging they’d see him after the holiday. It left him feeling very hurt and confused, but fortunately, he had found good company in Ron and Neville.
But even more so, Neville was doing his own bit to help Harry expand the social horizon he had.
Over the holiday he got to interact with some Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, he spent time in the Herbology greenhouse (where Neville was rapidly shaping up to be Professor Sprout’s favorite student, much to Hermione’s chagrin and dismay), and learned a bit about some of the Muggle flowers and plants Neville had been growing in the greenhouse as an extra credit project with Professor Sprout’s help.
Harry had come up from the greenhouses covered in soil and dirt, laughing and chatting with Neville. A sight that, for Minerva, was worth its’ weight in Galleons. She resolved to commit that memory to a Pensieve for Rollie to get a nice look at.
Hannah Abbott, a Hufflepuff that he remembered from the Sorting Ceremony, had shown Harry around the kitchens. Harry had learned that she had a very strong interest in cooking, and was actually learning some of the methods of both magic and non-magic cooking from the house elves, who he was introduced to. The leader of the kitchen elves was a wrinkled, grey elf named Tarlok.
Tarlok had taken Harry on a tour, and the number of elves he knew that day had gone from none to many, as each house elf seemed very eager to meet the much drummed up ‘Boy-Who-Lived’, it seems the mythos wasn’t just limited to humans.
One afternoon during the break, Harry was coming back from the greenhouse and as he turned a corner to head to the Slytherin dorms, he was stopped by someone.
“Harry Potter!” The girl said with a smile. Harry blinked and stopped.
“I’m Cho Chang,” She introduced herself. “My name’s not actually Cho, that’s just a nickname because people can’t pronounce my actual name,” She explained, smiling. She had a Scottish brogue not unlike Harry, which contravened the usual expectation of someone of Asian descent. “I’ve been tryin’ to find the time to finally meet you.”
“Um, hello,” Harry said, accepting a handshake from Cho. “Why, exactly?”
“I figure you must feel like the rest of us,” She explained quietly. “Not really feeling like you’re fitting into the mould, kinda disconnected from things, not really sharing the same experiences.”
Harry blinked and realization hit him. “Oh! I mean, I guess, sorta yeah. Some days it’s a little weird to be basically the only Asian guy in Slytherin. At least I’ve got Blaise around to make it feel a little less like I’m sticking out.”
Cho nodded in understanding. “It was like that for me too my first year,” She said with a smile. “But other than the Patil twins, me, and you… there’s no other Asian students at Hogwarts. I’ve been thinking maybe we could, you know, be each other’s friend.”
Harry tapped a finger to his chin in thought. “Why not?” He said, grinning ear to ear.
“Pure barry,” Cho said. “I’ll see you later, Harry.”
Harry continued heading down to his dorm, and smiled to himself. A productive day to develop his social relationships, indeed. The following day, he spoke more to Cho, who talked a bit about her childhood.
She was a half-blood, her father was a wizard from Kowloon in the Huang Empire, and her mother was a Muggle Scotswoman, and that she grew up in Dunfermline. She went on about her childhood, frequently visiting Kowloon with her father and learning Mandarin and Khitan from her grandmother. Harry didn’t quite have anything comparative, and specified he wasn’t sure of his ancestry.
His mothers, he explained, seemed to know, as he went to Yamato just this last summer. So, he wagered, he was Yematai. Cho nodded and asked him if he knew any Yematai, and he shook his head.
“You should consider putting out an owl order for some books on Yematai language. I can’t help you completely with it, but when you get to the kanji I’m more than sure I can give you some help.”
“I’m not sure if I have the time to learn Yematai,” Harry admitted. “Between all the classes and stuff…”
“It isn’t easy,” She admitted. “But you’re a smart boy, I wager you can handle it. But whenever you feel ready and capable, I’d recommend grabbing books for it.”
“Hermione would tell me much the same thing,” Harry said, amused.
Harry was wholly unable to sleep on Christmas Eve. He spent the night alone in his dorm, fussing with his wand.
“Lumos,” He would command, sometimes a couple of times before it would work. “Nox,” he would then command, extinguishing the light. It carried on like that for most of the night, Harry doing not much else other than thinking about all sorts of things. His friends, his family, his wand; he never felt anxiety to such a strong degree before, and he had to admit he wasn’t fond of it.
After a frustrating few hours of playing with his wand, Harry decided to go for a walk, and stepped out into the halls of Hogwarts, his Invisibility Cloak wrapped around him securely. At first having no goals in general, Harry’s mind began to float back to Quirrell. What sort of dark thing could be attached to him? Furthermore, what more could he find about the Deathly Hallows? The young Slytherin convinced himself that the Restricted Section had to have something of use on the subject, and made his way up to the library. Slipping through the door undetected, Harry lit his wand after two tries, and made his way to the locked gate of the Restricted Section.
The lock itself wasn’t too daunting– Harry had to remember the spell that took care of locks.
“Alohomora,” Harry murmured, and his wand, for one moment, obeyed him. He gently pushed the gate open and stepped in, and began to cast his wandlight around at the various books, observing their subject names. Nothing stood out to him as something that would help him with Quirrell’s peculiarity, Harry instead looked for subjects on the Deathly Hallows. He came across a book that detailed some of the history of the Elder Wand, and gently removed it from the shelf, and tucked it under his arm. He spied another book, primarily dealing in “dark spirits”. Grabbing it and prying it open to check it, the book let out a blood-curdling scream, forcing Harry to pitch it to the ground, and extinguish his light.
Narrowly escaping capture by Filch and Mrs. Norris, Harry made his way down the library corridor, and hid in an abandoned classroom. Making sure the door was firmly closed behind him, Harry took off his cloak and looked around the room. The classroom looked as if it hadn’t been used in well over a century. At the far end of the room, a mirror was set up. It was very ornate, and looked even older than the room itself. Approaching it cautiously, Harry set his book down on the floor and peered into it.
On the other end, making him go ashen and stammer, was Lily and James Potter. Harry had never actually seen them before in his life, and he felt a tightness in his chest, just looking at them. But, something deep inside of him knew that they were indeed the people he thought they were.
“Mum? Dad?” He quietly whispered, placing his hand on the mirror. The two ghostly images smiled back. James was tall and dark-haired, with a confident smile. Lily was nearly as tall as James, but with long red hair that made Harry idly wonder if they were related to the Weasleys somehow; but he knew the chances of that were quite slim, as she was very clearly nowhere near the same ethnicity as Ron and his family were.
Harry inspected himself closer. It was him, certainly, but he looked softer, less shy… he moved even closer the mirror and–
A surge of anger and fear tore through him. The little voice in his head he attributed to Hermione and Draco began to scream at him that he was in mortal peril. The danger of being lured into things by dark magic was a very real threat, and here he was, being suckered. He ripped his hand away from the glass, and forced himself to turn away from his own reflection, and took several deep breaths.
“This isn’t real. They aren’t real. There is nobody here but me,” Harry said as he berated himself for being so careless.
“No, I am afraid it isn’t, Harry,” A male voice said, causing Harry to nearly leap out of his skin and spin around, wand brandished towards the source of the voice.
Professor Dumbledore approached him from the door, his hands raised in surrender. “I mean you no harm, my child. I apologize for sneaking up on you like that.”
“Professor,” Harry wheezed, before stowing his wand away. “What is this?”
“Ah, well, that, my dear Harry, is the Mirror of Erised.”
“Desire,” Harry said, mist forming around his eyes as he resisted the urge to meet his parents eyes again. “It shows you what you want most in the whole world.”
“Indeed,” Dumbledore said sadly. “So many men of good heart and good faith have wasted their years away in front of the mirror, promising things that can never be.”
“My parents, my family, and… me.” Harry said, feeling only slightly bitter.
Albus nodded quietly, and stepped next to Harry. “The things which we have lost and desire to see returned to us are, more often than not, what we see in this mirror. Unresolved feelings, things we never knew we had until they were gone, so on. The happiest man in the world, happiest boy in the world, could look into the mirror and see nothing but his own reflection. It is truly what shines a light on our psyche, and what we want on the inside, even if we don’t realize it yet.”
“What do you see in the mirror, sir?” Harry said, very quietly.
Albus sighed, and Harry swore he could see every year of the Headmaster’s one-hundred and ten years written on his face. A man who had seen several wars, countless students suffer and die for stupid things.
“I see… my greatest regret,” Albus said with a sad look at Harry. “Someday, Harry, perhaps I will feel up to speak about that. I will be moving the Mirror, and I would ask you not go looking for it again. It does not do to dwell on the past.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said, glumly.
“But, in the meantime,” Albus pulled his wand out. “Tempus,” He said quietly, and looked at the golden-coloured clock that emerged from his wand.
“Happy Christmas, Harry,” Albus said fondly, smiling warmly again. “It is very late, but I don’t think I can sleep much either. Would you like some hot chocolate and biscuits? Perhaps we can think of fonder memories together.”
“I’d like that, sir,” Harry said, as the two left the room behind, and with it, turned their backs on the Mirror of Erised.
The morning came much quicker than Harry would have liked. He felt like he was coming up from a pool or lake and was beyond exhausted after getting maybe a grand total of two or three hours. He slipped his glasses back on and noticed a small glass vial sitting on his bedside table. It was full of a bubbling red liquid, similar to some of the fruit-flavoured sodas he’d seen in Muggle shops. Pulling the tag off the vial, he looked at the note.
“Drink this, it will help with exhaustion.”
Harry uncorked the vial and downed the contents. The “tiredness” evaporated almost instantly, and Harry felt like he could run a marathon or something. Clambering out of bed, he cleaned himself, dressed, and made his way to the Great Hall. His mothers, Dumbledore, Snape, and a few students were beginning to straggle in for breakfast. He sat down next to Neville at the Gryffindor table, and looked towards the staff table.
Dumbledore raised his goblet to him and gave him a nod, before taking a drink. Harry smiled and nodded back, before turning to the breakfast spread in front of him.
“Neville, how’d you sleep?” Harry asked, buttering some toast.
“Fine, I suppose. Bizarre dreams,” Neville said, shrugging.
“I told you not to eat all that junk before you went to bed, Neville,” Percy Weasley said, sitting down at the table.
“Shove off, Perce,” Ron said between a mouthful of toast. “Not everyone enjoys being a wet blanket like you.”
Percy glared at Ron, before shaking his head.
After a certainly energetic breakfast, Harry and Professor Snape were practically forced to go to the Gryffindor common room to share Christmas presents. McGonagall summoned a small block from her robe pocket and transfigured it into a sack of presents that were meant for Harry. Unloading them, Harry realized that he’d gotten quite a few from all sorts of people.
The first present was from Mrs. Weasley. When the maroon-coloured wrapping paper became visible in Minerva’s hand, Ron had went ashen. Inside the box was a silver and green jumper specifically made for Harry, along with a plate of home-made fudge. The jumper itself was enchanted, Harry had noticed, made to smell like sandalwood. He pulled it on and grinning at Ron’s mortified look. Fred and George came around and forced Ron to put his on, much to the youngest Weasley boy’s chagrin.
From Lala, Harry had recieved a detailed book on Quidditch strategy, extracting from him a promise to definitely go out for the team next year. Snape looked smug and satisfied at Lala’s gift, and Harry would swear that afternoon that he saw his mother hexing Snape for his smugness.
There were some other gifts, Neville had gotten him a small potted plant that could thrive in the Slytherin dorm’s poor natural lighting, Hermione had made sure to leave him some Muggle books she’d gotten and wanted to pass on to someone else.
Harry was very happy, and had an absolute blast spending the day with so many people. Even Snape seemed to cop to the Christmas spirit, as he made a few dry jokes here or there– though he still tormented poor Neville and Ron by intimidating the absolute spit out of them at times.
The lack of something from Draco slightly disappointed Harry, and that evening as he sat alone in his dorm, he idly wondered if Draco was doing okay, or not. He didn’t like the lingering feelings of unresolved problems, and vowed to himself to not let that kind of stuff happen again– not if he could help it.
The final days before the term started up again, students began to pour back into Hogwarts in droves, including Hermione and Draco. They were quite surprised to see how large of a friend group Harry had cultivated over the holiday, and how transient it seemed to cross the house lines. At breakfast, Harry was sitting at the Hufflepuff table, engaged in a tight game of wizards’ chess against Cedric Diggory, with Hannah Abbott watching and giving Cedric pointers, and Ron Weasley doing the same for Harry.
Neville Longbottom was engaged in a conversation with Cho Chang, talking about a potted plant that had curled around Neville’s finger, and the girl seemed to be taking in information about the particular breed of plant.
The Patil twins were there as well, as was Penelope Clearwater, who was patting her eyes at Percy Weasley, trying to flirt with the oblivious nerd that Percy was.
Once the term started, Harry went about his business and seemed content to not say much in the way of anything to his two friends, conversing with Neville and giving him pointers in Potions, being sequestered for his DADA lessons with Snape, and his study period lessons with Dumbledore. Finally, a few weeks after the term had started, Draco and Hermione cornered Harry in the common room while he was doing his Transfiguration homework.
“Alright, Harry! This has gone on for too long! You’ve been giving us the cold shoulder for weeks!” Hermione exclaimed. Harry looked up from his parchment and set the quill down.
“Right, it’s just been a very busy time. Lots of things going on at once, I’d figured once you were ready to talk, we could,” He said. “But,” He continued. “You both did and said very hurtful things. I’ve talked about this a bunch of times, and talked it through. Do you two think I want whatever’s coming to me? That I chose to be who I am? Because I didn’t. Professor Snape and Professor Dumbledore are trying to help me so that whenever Voldemort returns,” Harry said despite the clear cringe from both his friends, “I’ll be able to fight him.”
“When he returns? Is it that certain?” Hermione asked.
Draco rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I’d certainly say so,” He murmured. “Father wasn’t the most loyal follower of the Dark Lord, but I can see it in his eyes whenever he talks about the war. Wistfulness, desire, and a certain something else… shame, I’m guessing.”
“So two professors are training Harry to be a soldier?” Hermione asked, incredulously. “He’s a child! We’re just children! How is this fair to Harry?”
“Harry is ordained by destiny,” Draco murmured quietly. “Harry was destined to fight the Dark Lord the minute wangface put a scar on his forehead.” Draco said, gesturing to Harry’s scar.
“So they’re just trying to make sure I won’t be killed or harmed by the situation,” Harry said with finality. “It isn’t because I’m better, or special.”
Hermione sighed, and sat next to Harry. “I’m sorry that I overreacted,” She said, looking at her friend.
“I forgive you,” Harry said with a smile.
Harry glanced at Draco expectantly, and Draco’s face reddened slightly.
“And I’m sorry, Hermione, for calling you… that. I won’t do it again.”
“Good,” Harry said. “Because I know how you’d handle in a fist fight. I’d lay you out.”
Draco started laughing, and Harry gave him a two-fingered salute for his trouble, but was smiling the entire time.
And so it was that the trio was reunited and friends again, though their curiosity got the best of them and they pried for information about Harry’s new, much larger social circle, and the young man was very happy to regale them the tale of the Christmas holiday, and all the new people he made friends with.
As the exam season approached, Harry engrossed himself in his studies. Each subject had it’s own sort of difficulty level, and some of the professors were more relentless than others. Professor Snape had given him a quite sizable DADA exam study guide, and informed him that his exam would cover more than just the most basic first year content, and would cover a substantial portion of second year DADA–this was on top of his already rigorous Potions exam prep that caused several third-years to end up in the Hospital Ward with anxiety attacks.
Professor Sinistra had been doing her own study guide, but she had brought in a friend of hers to assist students with tutoring on their star charts. He certainly seemed to fit the “mould” of a wizard, having big, puffy curly black hair and a wry, strained smile. Harry came to figure out the man’s name was Brian, but he was still an affable person. Though his time at Hogwarts was very brief, he spent three weeks helping with tutoring for the coming exams, and then left. Harry felt a very strong sense of familiarity to the man, and wondered where he’d seen him before.
But there was no time to play investigative journalist– Hermione would kill him he didn’t make sure he was studied up for his exams! For that matter, everyone in his social circle seemed to expect him to do his best. It was nice to know that people thought that highly of him. Neville, Hannah and even Professor Sprout had all collectively threatened to read him the Riot Act if he didn’t absolutely eviscerate his Herbology final.
Ultimately, he anticipated that he’d fall short in Transfiguration and Charms, but exceed in the fields that didn’t require mastery of wand movements and spellcasting. But he was reasonably confident that he’d do just fine.
Harry had grown up in a wizarding household, but not a pureblood household, and such distinctions were important. Harry’s mum was the daughter of a Arianist preacher, and Lala had come from a batch of French Chalcedonians, and so he’d spent his childhood celebrating Easter Sunday, as could be expected.
He was still surprised about the fact that Easter Holiday was an actual thing at Hogwarts. Though it perhaps just seemed a sop to those wixen at Hogwarts who followed Christianity, as teachers still loaded them up with homework over the holiday in anticipation of exams coming up.
Hermione had nearly driven Harry spare talking about the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, or practicing wand movements. Harry spent a lot of time in the library with Draco and his small clique of first years in an attempt to at least assuage Hermione’s brain from blowing a gasket at going so fast.
Harry had been eyeball deep in a book on magical herbs and plants, looking up the properties of Dittany, and had caught sight of Hagrid digging around one of the shelves for a book.
“Hagrid? What’s got you up here?” Harry asked the half-giant as he lumbered to leave the room.
“Ah, Harry! Erm, just doin’ a bit of research on some creatures. Say, why don’t you come down to my hut this evening for some tea? I haven’t seen hardly any of ya this year.”
Harry nodded. “Alright,” He said. “I’d love to, can I bring some friends?”
“Not many, Harry, not enough room you know.”
“Of course,” Harry said, smiling.
Harry had headed down to Hagrid’s hut as the sun began to dip behind the horizon, with Draco, Hermione and Ron in tow. Ron had insisted on coming along, as he knew that Hagrid tended to get himself into some crazy business when it came to creatures. Hagrid had quickly ushered them in with celerity, and eyed Draco warily.
“Whatever it is,” Draco said, deadpanned. “I won’t tell my father, Hagrid.”
“Right, look,” Hagrid said, nodding and walking over to his fireplace. In the fireplace, nestled in a tin pot, was a black, scaled egg.
“Bloody hell,” Ron said. “Is that a dragon egg?”
“Hagrid, those are illegal! How did you get it?” Harry asked, looking at the half-giant.
“Won it, in a game of cards last night in the village. Some stranger wanted to get rid of it, and seemed glad to have finally lost,” Hagrid said proudly.
“And what do you plan on doing once it’s hatched, Hagrid? You couldn’t possibly hope to keep it in here?” Draco asked, raising an eyebrow. “You do realize dragons get very large, right?”
“Aye, aye, I know that! Erm, well, I’ve got it under control, got a bunch of books that help with the hatching dragons.”
“Hagrid, you live in a wooden house,” Hermione said, furrowing her brow.
Hagrid didn’t seem to really take that into consideration, and simply allowed the egg to continue to incubate in his hut. A couple weeks passed before Hagrid had once again summoned the four of them down to the hut. They had nearly skipped Herbology, but Hermione and Draco had both slapped Ron and Harry around to get to class.
But they, as soon as class had ended, made their way down to Hagrid’s hut.
After some waiting and baited breath, the egg finally hatched, and Harry observed the small baby dragon. It looked like a crumpled, black umbrella had mated with a lizard. The wings were much larger than the body, and it had bulging orange eyes. It was mewling like a newborn, fussing around looking for it’s mother.
Hagrid reached out to pet it, and the dragon nipped at his finger, before rubbing his head up against it.
“Look, he knows his mummy!” Hagrid said, proudly.
“Hagrid,” Hermione said, cautiously, glancing at the baby dragon. “How fast do Norse Ridgebacks grow, exactly?”
“I don’t know,” Hagrid said. The unfortunate implications of a rapidly growing dragon on Hogwarts property did not sit well with any of the three Slytherins, or the Gryffindor, who was busy fawning over the baby dragon.
The following Thursday, when Harry went up to Dumbledore’s office for his study session with the Headmaster, he felt a little concerned over Hagrid’s near dereliction of his gamekeeper duties in favor of harboring a dragon that was rapidly growing larger by the day.
“Harry, you seemed troubled,” Dumbledore said, his eyes sparkling. “Are you concerned about Rubeus?”
“How’d you-” Harry went to ask before stopping, folding his arms. “Occlumency.”
Dumbledore gave an amused smile and nodded. “Unfortunately, my child, you read like a book that has been left open.”
“Yes, sir, but you could at least ask before you read my mind.”
Dumbledore nodded. “But then, how would I keep abreast of developments in my school?” The headmaster said, smiling.
“But yes,” Harry said. “Hagrid got a dragon from someone. I’m kinda worried about a couple things, now that I think about it. He’s attached to the dragon so much he’s calling it Norbert, and it’s going to get larger and larger before it’s too large to fit in his hut.”
Dumbledore smiled serenly. “You are a problem-solver, Harry. Far be it from me to tell Rubeus he cannot do certain things… consider it a challenge from me, to solve this problem.”
“You can’t be straightforward, can you, Professor?”
“No.” Dumbledore said with finality, giving Harry a grin. “Now, let us begin our lesson for today…”
The following week complicated matters further.
Harry had convinced Ron to reach out to his brother Charlie (who was raising dragons in Dacia, of course) to take Norbert away, so that nobody would be harmed by it, and Harry’s ominous warning about someone being hurt seemed to be confirmed the following day.
While Ron was on his duty to help Hagrid feed Norbert (who was now over three times larger than he was when he’d hatched), Norbert had bitten Ron’s quill hand. The following morning, Ron had shown up at breakfast with a swollen hand wrapped in gauze, that was green and purple.
Harry had threatened him with bodily harm unless he went up to the hospital wing to talk to Madam Pomfrey. When they went up later to talk to him, Ron relayed that she had grilled him about what actually bit him as the antidote would depend on it.
“You didn’t tell her, did you?” Hermione had asked.
“Healers are bound by their oath to not reveal any pertinent details about their patients. Healer’s Compact of 1883,” Ron said, rubbing his hand. “Burns like hell,” He murmured.
Hermione looked at him like he’d grown a second head.
“She’s not going to rat us out?” Harry asked.
“Nah, though she did have some choice words for me, and says she’s going to bludgeon Hagrid within an inch of his life next time she seems him,” Ron said, letting out a dry chuckle.
The day they had agreed upon was full of it’s own complications–it was a dark and cloudy night, and they (being Draco and Harry underneath the invisibility cloak) were late in arriving at Hagrid’s hut due to Peeves blocking their way.
But they’d arrived, and Hagrid was ready, a large crate prepared. The crate itself was rattling loudly, and Hagrid was beside himself with grief.
Draco and Harry had slipped the crate under the invisibility cloak, and made their way back up to the school, to the Astronomy tower.
The quiet hallway was eerie as they made their way up, giving a strong sense of foreboding.
Once they’d arrived, they waited patiently in the tower until four broomsticks swept down from the sky. Charlie’s friends were a very cheery lot, and took the dragon graciously from them, and put him into a harness that would suspend him between the four of them.
And with a swoop, the four left with Norbert in tow. Harry and Draco sighed and wiped the sweat from their foreheads, taking in a deep breath of the night air. They stood there for a moment, before the sound of someone thudding up the stairs alerted the two boys.
They slipped the invisibility cloak back on, and waited patiently. The door loudly swung open, and Argus Filch peered around in annoyance.
“I swore I heard somethin,” He growled.
Harry and Draco slipped around Filch, and made their way downstairs as quickly and quietly as possible, and fled to the dungeons. They saw Dumbledore along the way, who was pacing the corridors for no earthly reason. Harry swore Dumbledore looked straight at him, nodded once, and turned a corner.
They managed to make it back to the boys dormitory without being caught, much to their satisfaction and relief. Harry could only imagine the infamy if he’d cost Slytherin more points. Forget the students, Snape would never forgive him.
He shuddered as he slipped into bed.