Harryís eyes flew open at the sound of his name being called from a far distance. He remembered going to bed in the boysí dormitory long after everyone else, but now, he found himself suddenly deep within the Forbidden Forest. "Sleepwalking?" he asked himself and shook his head to wake up the rest of the way. Harry looked down and found that, somehow, he had gotten dressed and even managed to grab his wand.
Harry heard his name again. "Haaaaaaarrryyyy." The voice was strangely familiar, but distorted by the wind. It seemed to be coming from all around him. As Harry continued walking, the voice got louder. "Maybe Ron and Hermione are out looking for me," he thought. "Over Here!" he yelled. "Ron? Hermione?"
"No, Harry. Iím near the Canis Ravine. In the cave at the river bend." The voice was low and gruff, but not threatening.
Harry stopped and called out, "I donít know where that is." The whole forest seemed to hold its breath. The birds and bugs and nightcrawlers he had been listening to ceased their chatter all at once. "Hello?" he called. "HELLO?!"
A soft breeze began to circle around his feet, lifting the dead leaves from the ground. The breeze grew stronger until Harry had to hold onto the trunk of the tree next to him to keep from getting blown over. Harry squeezed his eyes shut to keep the dust and dirt swirling around him from blinding him.
All at once, the wind stopped. Harry gasped as he looked at the ground in front of him and saw the leaves and sticks that had previously carpeted the forest floor were now all neatly arranged in a large arrow pointing just to the right of where he had been headed.
Harry took a deep breath and cautiously headed in the direction the arrow directed Soon, Harry spotted a well-worn path and followed it until he came to what must have been the Canis Ravine the mysterious voice mentioned. The ravine flowed straight for about a half mile then made a sharp turn.
The light from his wand settled on a huge outgrowth of rock that seemed to jut straight out of the ground. The cave looked exactly like the head of a howling dog. Instantly, Harry knew who the voice belonged to. "Snuffles!" he whispered. "Sirius!" He shouted. Harry jolted into the mouth of the cave. "Sirius!" he called again. Harry spun around, letting the light from his wand fall on each of the rocky walls. In the distance, he saw strange reflections. "Sirius?" he called a little more quietly and hesitantly.
Someone, or something was moving towards him. Harry heard two sets of footsteps, but saw only one pair of eys. "Firenze!" Harry exclaimed as the centaur came into focus. He was surprised to Firenze, but strangely Firenze didnít look at all surprised to see a Harry out in the Forbidden Forest after dark.
"Harry, I have been asked to come here to help guide you safely back to Hogwarts. But, first, there is someone who needs to talk to you."
Harry looked towards the back of the cave. Sirius seemed to materialize out of the darkness and came walking toward Harry.
"I knew it! I knew it was you!" shouted Harry. "But I thought you were dead. I saw you fall into the archway. They told me you were gone, Sirius!" Harry ran towards Sirius and threw his arms around him, but there was nothing there. Harryís momentum caused him to fall to the ground once again.
He spun around on the cave floor and jumped up. Sirius was still standing there. Harry was confused.
"Sirius, are you a ghost?"
"No, Harry. Please listen. I donít have much time. What they told you was true. I am gone, but Iím not dead. That archway is a one-way door to another plane of existance. Coming to you like this takes a great deal of energy and the help of powerful magic. Thatís why I need Firenze. He can help you connect with me, but you must be very careful. Only call me if you truly need me. If anyone associated with Voldemort finds out, you will put not only yourself in danger, but Firenze as well. I will find ways to communicate with you. Donít take anything for granted. I know I canít ask you to keep this a secret from Ron & Hermione. I could never keep secrets from your father or Lupin, either. But be careful who you tell. The Order already knows. No one else must find out. Just remember, I am always with you. You can talk to me, even if you canít hear me I am listening. I must go now."
"No, Sirius! Wait!" Harry called and ran forward again. But by the time he reached the spot where Sirius was standing, he had vanished.
"Come, Harry. We must go back now," said Firenze gently.
Harry followed Firenze back out of the cave. Siriusí words were ringing in his head. Within minutes, it seemed, Harry and Firenze reached Hogwarts castle. After saying their farewells, Firenze turned and galloped away back into the forest.
Harry sighed and headed back to the castle, still unsure of how he ever made it out in the first placeHe suddenly grew very tired. His legs gave out and he sat on the steps to catch his breath. His eyes grew heavy and he laid down because he felt he simply couldnít move any further.
"Haaarrryyy!", he woke to another voice calling him. "Harry! Wake Up!" It was Hermione calling from the bottom of the stairs leading up the boysí dormitory. Somehow, he ended up back in his bed. "Harry! Youíre going to miss breakfast!!" Harry quickly got dressed and ran downstairs to join Ron and Hermione. He couldnít wait to tell them about his adventure during the night.