The Sugar Quill
Author: Jedi Boadicea (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Memories of Tomorrow / Dreams of Yesterday: A Series  Chapter: Chapter 1: Memories of Tomorrow, Part 1
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: I don’t own JK Rowling’s wonderful world, I only live in it

Disclaimer: I don’t own JK Rowling’s wonderful world, I only live in it.

 

The Bill Weasley stories “Job Hazards” and “Dreamwalkers” serve as a prologue to this series, so I suggest reading those first.

 

Setting: Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts. This story will crossover with chapters dealing with Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. The over-all rating for the entire arc is probably a PG-13.

 

 

 

MEMORIES OF TOMORROW

Part 1

 

            For the first time in four years, Harry felt a bit of trepidation about returning to Hogwarts for the new school year. Perhaps it was because he had been fortunate enough to spend the last half of summer away from the Dursleys, and staying at the Burrow - wonderful thought it was - put him in the perfect place to hear all the rumors flying about in the wizarding world these days. Dark rumors. Mrs Weasley always tried to keep anyone from mentioning Voldemort around Harry, but it was a fruitless venture. The Weasley children all had a knack for dragging information out of their father, and Arthur Weasley definitely had a lot of interesting - and unnerving - information these days. And most all of it involved Voldemort in one way or another.

            Though Ron had done his best to ensure that Harry had a fun-filled summer, every time someone said the words Death Eaters, or dark magic, or You-Know-Who within Harry’s hearing, Harry couldn’t help being hit all over again with memories of that night last year, the night that Cedric died, the night that everything changed for him.

            Harry wasn’t old enough to remember the terror of Voldemort’s attack on the wizarding world fourteen years ago. But he was getting a good taste of it now, even if he felt certain somehow that this was only the calm before the storm.

            Standing on Platform 9 ¾ , with the Hogwarts Express puffing away beside him, Harry shook himself out of reverie and watched Fred and George appear from thin air as they passed through the barrier and onto the hidden platform. Mr Weasley immediately pulled the twins aside, no doubt giving them a last minute lecture in the vain hope of staving off further mischief from them this year.

            “Now you will be careful, won’t you, dears?” Mrs Weasley was saying anxiously to Harry, Ron and Hermione.

            “Of course we will, Mum!” Ron said with exasperation. This was easily the hundredth time that Mrs Weasley had warned them to be careful since they had left the Burrow only an hour ago.

            “We won’t go looking for trouble, Mrs Weasley, don’t worry,” Hermione said, giving Ron and Harry both pointed looks.

            “I don’t have to go looking for trouble,” Harry muttered to himself, the unwelcome feeling of trepidation making him somewhat snappish. Thankfully, Mrs Weasley didn’t hear him, though Hermione elbowed him hard in the ribs.

            “Keep in touch, all right?” Mrs Weasley caught Ron in a hug, ignoring his feeble struggles, and planted a kiss on his cheek. She then gave Harry a similar treatment. “You’ll remember to send us owls every few weeks, won’t you? Just to give us some peace of mind.”

            “Yeah,” Harry said. “We will.”

            Mrs Weasley then gave Hermione a less fierce hug, but an affectionate one nonetheless. Whatever lingering damage might have remained from Skeeter’s articles last year had been healed over the last week that Hermione had spent at the Burrow with them. “Watch after them, Hermione. You’ve got good common sense. Boys need some of that.”

            “Of course. I always try.”

            Mr Weasley came up and put an arm around his wife’s shoulders. “Molly, dear, it’s time they got on the train.”

            “Right, of course.” Mrs Weasley sniffed very hard and blinked fiercely.

            “Aw, Mum.” Ron rolled his eyes. “Don’t cry. We’ll be fine.”

            “I may visit the school occasionally this year,” Mr Weasley said, “helping attune the wards to recognize Ministry credentials. I’ll try to check in on you boys if I do.”

            “Er...” Ron struggled to find a way of expressing his extreme dislike for the concept.

            “Oy!” Fred shouted at them, hanging out of one of the train compartments. “You’d all better get up here, unless you plan to fly to Hogwarts.”

            George poked his head out. “And don’t dare do it without us this time!”

            It was a sign of how distraught she truly was that Mrs Weasley did not glare at either the twins or Ron at this, as she had never quite forgiven the incident with the flying Anglia. “Go on,” she said kindly to Ron and the others, then grabbed Ginny, who had stood silently by the whole time, and gave her a kiss and hug. She then waved all four of them toward the train.

            They managed to find a compartment to themselves, and Harry saw through the window as the train pulled away that Mr and Mrs Weasley stood on the platform and watched them leave, both wearing very concerned expressions. Harry sighed and leaned back in his seat.

            “What’s wrong?” Ginny asked him quietly, barely loud enough to be heard over the loud voices echoing in the compartment. Ron and Hermione were already involved in an argument about something.

            Ginny hadn’t spoken much to him during his time at the Burrow, but he’d found that when she did say something it always seemed to be at a moment when no one else was paying attention to him; and those moments were rare enough. He knew that it was probably ungrateful of him, but he couldn’t help finding Mrs Weasley’s over-concern a bit stifling sometimes. He simply wasn’t used to it. But he knew he would never mention it.

            “Nothing,” Harry replied, trying not to meet Ginny’s eyes. He wouldn’t know how to talk about the feelings he was having, even if he’d wanted to.

            “Hey, Harry,” Ron said suddenly, holding out a fist which seemed to be filled with a puff of brown feathers. “Hold on to Pig for a minute, will you?”

            Pigwidgeon hooted enthusiastically as Harry took hold of him. “What are you doing?”

            Ron was busy covering Pig’s cage with a square of black cloth which seemed to have sparkles glued to the underside. He snorted. “Hermione claims that this is supposed to make Pig feel more relaxed -”

            “It’s spelled,” Hermione said testily, “to resemble the night sky. Sort of like the ceiling of the Great Hall. It’s to make him feel more at home. So maybe he won’t make such a racket while he’s in his cage.”

            “I think it’s ridiculous,” Ron muttered, struggling to tie the ends of the slippery cloth to the bottom of the cage to keep it in place.

            “Well, fine!” Hermione snapped. “I’ll never go to extra work to do you a favor again, Ron!”

            “Listen,” Harry interjected, still clutching Pig  - who was now wriggling around gleefully - firmly in his hand. “We haven’t even made it to the castle yet. Do we really have to start this now?”

            Harry was glad that Hermione had come to the Burrow for the last week of summer, but the unspoken tensions between Ron and Hermione had been building ever since she’d arrived. Harry knew perfectly well that Ron was dying to ask Hermione about what she’d done for summer before coming to Weasleys’, as he’d managed to make at least one snide comment about Bulgaria every day while Harry had been there. But for some reason Ron couldn’t seem to bring himself to make any of those comments directly to Hermione, though Harry wished he would; anything to prevent them from starting the term in this fashion.

            Hermione flopped down into a seat next to Ginny with a sigh.  “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, casting an apologetic look at Ron. “My temper’s a bit short. I just had a lousy summer.”

            Ron’s eyes instantly narrowed, but he restrained himself from pursuing the subject with visible effort. He just shrugged, and managed an abashed look of his own. “S’allright. I’m sorry too. I think we all had a pretty... tense summer.” All eyes glanced to Harry, who determinedly kept his gaze glued on Pig, still twittering away between his fingers. Ron cleared his throat awkwardly. “Anyway... thanks for the cage cover and all, Hermione. Here, Harry, give me Pig.”

            Ron managed to get the little owl safely locked away inside the covered cage. Whether the spelled cloth actually gave the hyper owl any peace of mind they couldn’t say, but it thankfully served to muffle the sound of his happy hooting.

            The rest of the trip to Hogwarts they managed to chat without any further arguments. They talked about the new courses they would be taking as fifth years - Hermione was particularly excited about Transfiguration this term - and how it was hard to believe that Fred and George were actually going to finish school this year.

            “Mum’s convinced they’re going to try to pull some stunt for the end of the year,” Ron said.

            “Well, are they?” Hermione asked outright.

            Ron grinned, and Ginny snorted. “Of course they are!” she exclaimed.

            “They won’t tell me anything about it,” Ron admitted sulkily. “Even though I offered to help.”

            “You would.” Hermione tsked. “Really, Ron. As if you don’t get in enough trouble on your own.”

            Ron didn’t seem to hear her. “I’m sure Lee knows something. Maybe I can get it out of him.”

            It was raining when they finally arrived at the Hogsmeade station. They made a dash out to the horseless carriages, and were soon tromping through the familiar Entrance Hall on the way to the feast. They took seats at the Gryffindor table, and watched as the first years were herded into the Hall for the Sorting.

            “Is it just me,” Ron said quietly, “or are there less of them this year?”

            “It looks like it.” Harry noticed.

            “There’ve been articles in the Daily Prophet.” Hermione said. “After what happened last year, lots of families are thinking of holding their children back until the trouble blows over.”

            Harry frowned. “The trouble is not just going to ‘blow over’.”

            Ron and Hermione exchanged an anxious glance over his head. Harry tried not to be irritated by it. Were they going to be doing this all year, looking over him with worried expressions like that? Was everyone?

            A high pitched, cruel laugh from across the hall from the Slytherin table caught their attention. They all scowled to see Draco Malfoy in deep cahoots with Crabbe and Goyle, laughing at the more nervous of the first years.

            “I can’t believe it!” Ron hissed. “I can’t believe he’d dare to show his face here again! After his dad knows that you must have reported him as a Death Eater and everything!”

            “Shhh!” Hermione trod on his foot. “Quiet, Ron! Don’t talk about stuff like that in the open.”

            “I don’t know,” Harry said darkly, glaring at Malfoy. “Maybe it’s just their way of trying to show Dumbledore they’re not afraid.”

            “They should be.” Ron growled. “Dumbledore’ll squash them, you wait and see.” He ground his fist into his hand as though to eagerly illustrate his words.

            But though Dumbledore did act a bit more grave than usual as he opened the feast after the Sorting, he did not mention anything about the recent problems. His welcoming speech was short and pleasant, nothing at all like the speech he had given to close the last term. Remember Cedric...

            Mad-Eye Moody, the real Mad-Eye Moody, was sitting at the head table as their Professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts. Only Harry, Ron and Hermione knew that he had not actually been their Professor the year before. They were all curious to see what the real Moody was going to be like as a teacher.

            When the feast ended the students broke off into groups and followed their Prefects to the house common rooms. On the way, Dean and Seamus hustled over to Harry, Ron and Hermione.

            “Good to see you!” Seamus said.

            “Did you hear?” Dean asked eagerly. “About the new teacher?”

            Hermione perked up. “What new teacher? I didn’t know there was going to be a new teacher! There wasn’t anything on the school list about a new subject available…”

            Dean rolled his eyes. “No. I’ve heard she’s like Dumbledore’s assistant, or something.”

            “Dumbledore doesn’t need an assistant!” Ron said almost defensively.

            “Where’d you hear about this?” Hermione demanded incredulously. “And why wasn’t this mystery teacher at the feast, then?”

            Dean shrugged. “Don’t know. Heard about it from Parvati. Said she overhead some woman talking to Professor McGonagall.”

            Hermione sniffed, clearly dismissing anything Parvati might have reported as nothing more than frivolous gossip. But Harry couldn’t help feeling curious. He was certain that Dumbledore would be organizing quite a lot of mysterious people around him these days. If there was someone here as his assistant, then they must be somebody important.

            “A new teacher,” Hermione muttered dismissively as they trooped through the Gryffindor common room. “Dumbledore would have introduced her at the feast. There can’t be a new teacher.”

            “Well, we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?” Harry said. “Good night, Hermione.”

            Stepping into his dorm room after the summer always felt like coming home for Harry. This time was no exception, in spite of memories and a little bit of dread about the future. This was still home. Harry climbed into bed quickly, and for the first time in a long while he slept without nightmares.

 

                                                            *

                                               

           

            “It just figures,” Ron moaned the following morning at breakfast as they went over their new timetables. “Our first class of the year would have to be potions with the Slytherins, wouldn’t it?”

            “Well at least we’ll be getting it out of the way,” Harry said, trying to sound more optimistic than he felt. The last thing he wanted to do was start off his year with Professor Snape’s acidic barbs.

            “But at least we have Defense Against the Dark Arts today, too,” Hermione pointed out. “I’m really curious to see how...how this Professor Moody teaches his class.” She lowered her voice so as not to be overheard by students who didn’t know about all the things which had happened at the end of last year.

            “Hmmm.” Ron munched thoughtfully on his sausage. “I wonder if the real Moody will turn Malfoy into a ferret, too. What I wouldn’t give to see that again!”

            It seemed that most of the Gryffindors were less than excited about attending Potions first thing in the school year, because a great deal of the Gryffindor students arrived at the door to Snape’s dungeon mere minutes before the beginning of class. Normally toeing the line like that would have earned them all a terse reprimand from Snape, but as Harry and the others came to the door they found it closed, and all of the Slytherins were waiting in the corridor. Draco Malfoy sniggered at sight of Harry, then ducked down to whisper something in Crabbe’s ear.

            “Ferrets,” Ron murmured passionately to himself. “Just think of ferrets. Bouncing ferrets.”

            “Hey, Neville.” Harry came up to the short boy, who looked immensely relieved that his fellow Gryffindors had arrived at last. “Where’s Snape?”

            “I don’t know. I thought - I thought I’d come early, to start off the year better, but now he’s not even here, and I think it’s all just a bad sign.” Neville heaved a defeated sigh.

            He looked so thoroughly miserable that Harry couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. He patted Neville awkwardly on the shoulder, then sidled back to Ron and Hermione.

            “Maybe he’s not coming,” Ron said hopefully. “Maybe the new teacher is going to take his place!”       

            Hermione frowned. “There can’t be a new teacher, Ron,” she said obstinately. “Dumbledore would have introduced her at the feast!”

            “We’re not that lucky,” Harry muttered. “Here he comes.”

            Snape was striding down the corridor toward them, but he wasn’t alone. Professor McGonagall was walking beside him, robes flapping with her brisk steps. Neither of them looked particularly pleased, and neither spoke a single word until they stopped directly in front of Harry. Draco sniggered again. Harry’s heart sank. What had he done now?

            “Harry,” Professor McGonagall said, and her stern look suddenly softened with what seemed to be concern. “I need you to come with me.”

            “What did I do, Professor?” Harry asked wearily.

            Snape scowled. He looked far from concerned. “Don’t ask questions, Potter. Just do what you’re told. And I expect you to come to me after class and pick up information on your assignments. Just because you’re getting away with not coming to class doesn’t mean you’ll get away with not doing the work.”

            Without a word, Harry dumbly went to Professor McGonagall’s side and began to head back up the corridor. Hermione touched his arm comfortingly as he passed, but it didn’t help Harry’s mood. He had no idea what was going on, but he felt certain that Snape would never have let him go without a vicious argument unless there was an unpleasant fate awaiting him.

            “Professor,” Harry began. “Did I do anything wrong? I haven’t even had my first class yet!”

            “You’ve done nothing wrong, Harry. Professor Dumbledore wants to speak with you.”

            “Oh.” He walked uncomfortably on in silence, then blurted out on impulse, “Is it true that there’s a new teacher?”

            “A new teacher?” Professor McGonagall echoed, narrowing her eyes behind her square-lensed glasses. “Where did you hear that?” she asked sternly.

            “Er...just gossip, that’s all.”

            “Well.” McGonagall huffed. “Gossip. I see. No, Harry. There is no new teacher here this year. Hogwarts may open its doors to a few people as guests this term, but that’s not the students’ concern.” She glanced at him sideways. “Not most of them, at least. I needn’t remind you that anything Professor Dumbledore discusses with you is not to become the subject of idle gossip, must I?”

            “No, Professor.”

            “Good.” They came to a stop in front of the gargoyle which guarded the entrance to Dumbledore’s office. Professor McGonagall placed her hands on her hips and stared at the gargoyle, as though challenging it. Her face twisted into a slight grimace of disapproval as she spoke the passwords, “Pepper Imps.”

            The secret passage in the wall sprung open, and she and Harry stepped onto the moving spiral staircase which carried them up and up to Dumbledore’s office. Professor McGonagall rapped smartly on the door with the brass griffon knocker, and the door instantly swung open.

            Dumbledore was standing near the center of the room, in front of Fawkes’ perch. The Phoenix was looking a bit under the weather, his brilliant plumage faded and molting in a few places. Harry hoped that the bird wasn’t going to burst into flames again. Seeing it once had been unnerving enough.

            “Here’s Harry, Headmaster,” McGonagall said.

            “Ah, thank you, Minerva,” Dumbledore spoke without turning around. “I will speak with you later.”

            “Yes, Professor.” McGonagall gave Harry a last unreadable look through her glasses, then turned and left the room, closing the door behind her.

            “Come here, Harry,” Dumbledore said cheerfully. “Give me a hand.”

            Harry approached curiously, and saw that Dumbledore seemed to be trying to feed something to Fawkes. As a matter of fact, it seemed that he was trying to feed him a Chocolate Frog.

            “Fawkes has a weakness for sweets.” Dumbledore smiled, blue eyes twinkling. “I like to indulge him sometimes. Would you like some?”

            “Ah... no thanks. I just had breakfast.”

            “Of course. Mustn’t develop bad habits. That’s very farsighted of you, Harry. As for me... I like to indulge myself sometimes, too.” Dumbledore smiled and popped a piece of the Chocolate Frog into his mouth, then reached into his robes and drew out a new package. He opened it, broke off a piece, and fed it to Fawkes. The collectible card in the wrapping caught his attention. He pulled it out, looked at it, and sighed. “Another me. What a disappointment. I keep hoping to find someone interesting.”

            Harry remembered Colin Creevey saying once that he was sure there would be a card with Harry Potter on it someday. He nearly squirmed at the thought. He doubted he would be able to take it as calmly as Dumbledore seemed to.

            Dumbledore stared at him, smiling, almost as though he could read his thoughts. Then he slipped the package back into his robes and swept off toward a set of comfortable chairs which seemed to have materialized beside the window. “Have a seat, Harry.”

            Harry did so, placing his hands on his knees and trying not to fidget. He waited for Dumbledore to say something, but the Headmaster merely stared out the window, as though lost in thought.

            Finally, Harry cleared his throat. “Sir?”

            Dumbledore turned his penetrating blue gaze on him. “Yes, Harry?”

            “Er...not to sound rude or anything....but why did you want to see me?”

            “There are several reasons. One, was to ask you how your summer was.”

            Harry fought to keep his expression under control. He’d been pulled out of his very first lesson of the year so that Dumbledore could ask him how his summer was? “Um... it was fine, thanks.”

            “Were you happy staying with the Weasley family?”

            “Yes, sir.”

            “I spoke with Arthur Weasley a week ago. He has requested that you be allowed to stay with them this following summer as well. How would you feel about that, Harry?”

            A surge of gratitude filled Harry. He wondered if he would ever be able to thank the Weasleys for everything they tried to do for him. “I’d like that very much, sir.”

            “Then I will make the proper arrangements. You know by now that certain precautions must be taken, certain defenses set in place wherever you will stay during the holidays.”

            Harry swallowed, trying not to think about details, trying not to think about Voldemort... “I know.”

            “However.” Dumbledore stroked his beard. “It is possible certain arrangements may change,” he said mysteriously. “We will have to wait and see. But I have some more questions for you, Harry. I hope that you trust me enough to answer honestly.”

            “Of course I trust you, Professor.” But even as he said so, he remembered the time in his second year during the trouble with the Chamber of Secrets, when Dumbledore had asked him if he had anything to tell him. He had lied then, and it still made him uncomfortable. But after last year... after everything that had happened, and how Dumbledore had spoken to him... Harry felt certain that he would never lie to Dumbledore again. At least, he didn’t want to.

            Dumbledore fixed him with a somber gaze. “Has your scar been hurting you at all over the summer?”

            Harry felt his stomach drop, and he fought the urge to rub at his forehead. “No, sir.” It was true. He’d certainly expected it to bother him, but he hadn’t had so much as a twinge all summer.

            “Have you been having any more nightmares you feel might be connected to Voldemort?”

            Harry wondered how to answer that. He had nightmares almost every night. But none of them had felt like the dreams he’d experienced last year, none of them felt as terribly real, for which he was grateful. “I don’t think so, sir.”

            “That’s good. But I’m afraid I must now ask a favor of you, Harry,” Dumbledore said seriously.

            Harry tried to quell his nerves. “What is it?”

            “It’s very simple, but very important. If you ever have a dream, or a premonition, of anything you feel might pertain to Voldemort, I would like you to come immediately and tell me of it. You have a connection to him, Harry. You know this. Anything you might be able to tell us could be helpful in attempting to safeguard innocents from him. Will you do this?”

            Thinking about having those dreams again made Harry’s stomach turn. He didn’t want to know what horrible things Voldemort was doing, didn’t want to see them and experience all the pain and fear that went with it. But if there was a connection between them - and Harry couldn’t deny there probably was, no matter how much he wanted to - then if telling Dumbledore about his dreams might help save other people from being killed, he would do it. He owed that to Cedric. He owed that to his parents.

            “I’ll do it, sir,” Harry said as calmly as he could.

            Dumbledore smiled, though his eyes seemed sad. “Thank you, Harry. Many people will benefit from your bravery.” He leaned back in his chair and stroked at his beard again. “So. Now I have something to show you. But first I must insist that you not speak of this to any of the other students. Of course, I do expect Mr Ronald Weasley and Miss Hermione Granger to be an exception.” Dumbledore smiled.

            Harry blushed furiously. “I haven’t....” he stammered, “That is....they’ve always helped me to....”

            “It’s all right, Harry. I understand how important it is to have people close to you whom you can trust. I trust you, and if you trust them, then so be it. Just take care that it does not go beyond them, Harry, because this is very important.”

            Harry sighed with relief. “Yes, sir.”

            “Good. There is someone I would like you to meet.” Dumbledore gestured at the wall, and a hidden door swung open into the room.

            Harry stared in surprise as a woman entered, and guessed immediately that this must be the woman who had caused all the rumors; she was clearly too old to be a student, and Harry could understand how someone might have mistaken her for a new teacher. But her appearance was otherwise a bit more exotic than usual, even for a Hogwarts professor. She had white-blonde hair and pale green eyes, and was rather oddly dressed. Beneath a dark green cloak she was wearing what looked like a long, brown leather skirt, leather boots, and a shirt decorated with silver beads. There were a few black feathers tied in her hair, and what looked like a small bird claw dangling from one of her ears.

            “Harry,” Professor Dumbledore said, “This is Elizabeth Night.”

            Elizabeth Night smiled and walked right over to Harry and put out her hand. “It’s an honor to meet you, Harry Potter.” She had a low, gentle voice.     Harry stood up, feeling awkward, and shook her hand. “Uh... It’s nice to meet you, too.”

            Dumbledore gestured at empty air, and another chair popped into sight. “Please have a seat, Elizabeth.”

            “Thank you.” She sat down, and the small beads on her shirt tinkled softly.

            Harry noticed that she hardly took her eyes off him, and he couldn’t help fidgeting nervously. Who was this person? What on earth was going on?

            As usual, Dumbledore seemed able to read his thoughts. “Let me explain a few things for you, Harry. Miss Night just arrived from the States.  She is an expert in a field of magic you might not have heard of before. Have you learned anything in your studies about the Wizard Shamans?”

            Harry fidgeted even more, wishing suddenly that he’d paid more attention to some of his lectures. “I don’t think so.”

            “Good,” Elizabeth murmured. Harry thought she suddenly looked rather sad.

            He wondered how his ignorance could be a good thing, but Dumbledore was already continuing. “In many places of the world, Harry, wizards use magic in very different ways. In some remote places, people born with wizarding ability learn to use their magic without ever realizing they even possess the power. The Ministries and schools do their best to find everyone, but we cannot be everywhere at once.” A troubled look briefly touched Dumbledore’s lined face, but it passed quickly and he continued on. “Several centuries ago, a handful of European wizards made a journey to what was then considered the ‘New World.’ They met several of the native tribespeople there, and were introduced to their Shamans. These Shamans claimed to speak to the spirits of the land and the spirits of their ancestors. They believed that they appealed to these spirits for guidance, knowledge, and protection. It so happened that many of these Shamans were in fact wizards. In their practices they were unknowingly using the magic with which they were born, only without the benefit of the training wizards in wizarding communities have long enjoyed.” Dumbledore smiled suddenly at Elizabeth. “Am I getting this right, my dear?”

            She finally took her gaze off Harry and smiled back at Dumbledore. “Of course.”

            Dumbledore looked back at Harry, his eyes sparkling. “She’s always flattering me. But where was I? Oh yes. The wizards started to work with these Shamans, to try to understand how exactly they had learned to do what they did. Soon it developed into a magical art of its own, and over time they refined the practice, but it was a very difficult and very mystical art. Very few witches or wizards have ever been able to practice it.”

            Elizabeth Night spoke up then. “It’s a way of life, more than anything else. You have to be able to see the world with different eyes.”

            Harry wasn’t at all sure that he understood, but he nodded anyway, trying his best to absorb everything. If he could remember it well enough to repeat it all to Hermione later, no doubt she would have read about it in some obscure book and would be able to explain it all to him more simply.

            Dumbledore was smiling at him again in that knowing way. “Don’t worry, Harry. You will have time to understand it. What you need to know for the moment is that the Wizard Shamans learned to do things no one else has ever been able to do. They were able to summon visions, true visions. You see, Harry, under the right circumstances, a Wizard Shaman can look clearly into the future. More rebarkably, where the Divinatory arts are concerned, they can also look into the past. This is both an amazingly useful and incredibly dangerous ability. For you see, people have a tendency to want the very things which are worst for them.”

            Harry nodded, finally feeling like he understood something. “Like the Mirror of Erised, right?”

            “Precisely.” Dumbledore beamed. “I’m glad that you remember. People want to know what the future holds for them, and they often wish unwisely to relive the past. Because of this, the Wizard Shamans were plagued by all sorts who wanted to take advantage of their talents.” Dumbledore’s expression darkened, and his voice became quite solemn. “One of those people, unfortunately, was Lord Voldemort. He thought if he could look into the future to see the ways in which we would attempt to oppose him, then he could stop us before we had the opportunity. He also thought to use the Shamans to interrogate prisoners by looking into their pasts, and thereby seeing what plans they may have been privy to. He abducted all of the Wizard Shamans he could find. They went into hiding, of course, but Voldemort had ways of finding them.”

            Harry thought of his parents, of the terrible lengths to which they had gone in order to hide. They had been betrayed, and Voldemort found them. Harry couldn’t help but wonder how many other people were betrayed by Voldemort’s spies. How many other people had been hiding, only to be hunted down in the end?

            He tried very hard not to think about.

            Professor Dumbledore was still talking. “Those Shamans who resisted were killed. Those who succumbed to Voldemort’s power were killed after he had used them for his purposes. But fortunately, even those who were forced to aid Voldemort never gave him the full scope of their abilities. That, I’m afraid, is a very complicated matter, and one we needn’t address at the moment.” Dumbledore looked particularly grim, and though he didn’t take his steady gaze from Harry to even so much as glance at Night, Harry thought she looked a bit pale listening to him. The Headmaster went on, “Suffice it to say that Voldemort was not able to get as much use from them as he would have liked. Sadly, though, by the time he was forced to flee, he had seen to it that the Wizard Shamans were decimated. No one remained to continue the art. At least, that’s what was commonly believed. I am one of the few people who know that a bare handful managed to hide from Voldemort. For the last fourteen years they have remained in hiding, and during that time only two people have been newly trained as Wizard Shamans. Miss Night is one of them.”

            Harry looked again to Elizabeth Night, and saw that she was now staring at the floor, her lips pressed tightly together. She looked very sad now, and her hands were clasped tightly in her lap.

            Dumbledore also looked very somber. “I contacted Miss Night over the summer, and asked her to come here. She is here to help us, Harry, in something which I consider to be very important. I think you might also find it so. I have asked her here to look into the past, and to recreate in vision the events surrounding Sirius Black’s arrest fourteen years ago.”

            Harry gaped. A thousand chaotic thoughts flashed through his mind, but he couldn’t bring voice to a single one of them. Elizabeth Night was looking at him again, and her pale eyes seemed to burn right through him.

            “Any vision Miss Night can summon,” Dumbledore continued seriously, “will be accepted as credible evidence in a Wizarding Court. Her testimony may be the only thing which can officially clear Sirius’s name. Though I have no qualms with openly placing my trust in him, I think it best to avoid possible complications with the Ministry by gaining him an official pardon. The people I trust must have free rein to work. I will need Sirius’s help. And I suspect that you, Harry, would perhaps like the opportunity to live with your godfather.”

            Harry opened his mouth, struggled, shut it. Live with Sirius? The thought flooded him with such longing that his throat tightened with sudden emotion. “Yes.” He finally managed. “Yes, I really would.”

            Dumbledore smiled again. “Then I hope you’ll be willing to help Miss Night in her work.”

            Elizabeth unclasped her hands and leaned slightly forward. “It is very difficult to see into the past, Harry,” she said softly. “More difficult than seeing into the future. The past becomes memory, and memory is a very personal thing. In order to have a truly accurate vision, I need to know the people whose pasts are involved. I need to...” she hesitated. “It’s difficult to put this into words... I need to become familiar with your spirit aura.”

            Harry thought this sounded uncomfortably like the dreamy nonsense which Professor Trelawney babbled. But Elizabeth Night had a very earthy presence and a clear gaze, as opposed to Professor Trelawney’s misty elusiveness and dewy eyes. And most importantly, Dumbledore obvioulsy trusted Elizabeth, or Harry was certain that he would not have brought her here.

            “But how will my... uh... spirit aura... help you see Sirius’ past?” Harry asked.

            “You are connected to Sirius,” Elizabeth said. “I need to know him not only through his own memories, but through the spirit energy of others. I’ll have to spend time with him directly, of course, but I must also spend time with the people who are close to him.”

            Harry still wasn’t sure he understood, but he was willing to give anything a try if it meant getting to live with Sirius. Getting to leave the Dursleys forever. Getting to have a godfather - a real family of his own at last.

            “Okay,” Harry said. “What do I have to do?”

            “Nothing complicated, Harry,” Dumbledore interjected, a pleased and reassuring look in his eyes. “You need to spend some time in Miss Night’s company, allowing her to become acquainted with you. That is all.”

            Harry thought he could handle that, and he was sure Ron wouldn’t mind either. Which made him think... he really didn’t know what this would entail, and he’d rather not have to do it alone.

            “Do we....uh....” Harry hedged, “Do we have to be alone together?”

            Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled, and Elizabeth’s lips twisted as she seemed to fight a grin. 

            “No,” Elizabeth said. “We don’t have to be alone.”

            “I was hoping,” Professor Dumbledore added calmly, “that you and your admirable friends might be willing to spend some time introducing Miss Night to Hogwarts. As a matter of fact, she will be attending quite a few of your classes.”

            “Classes?” Harry blurted out before stopping himself, realizing only afterward how rude he sounded. “Why?”

            “I’ve trained my whole life as a Shaman,” Elizabeth said with a graceful shrug that made the beadwork on her leather clothing tinkle. “And I’ve spent most of my life in hiding. I don’t even have a wand. I know far less about magic than you do, Harry. I have quite a lot to learn. This is a fabulous opportunity for me.”

            “And I believe,” Dumbledore smiled, “That she has expressed a particular desire to learn about Quidditch.”

            Elizabeth nodded. “Most definitely.”

            Harry couldn’t help grinning slightly. At least that was something he could do with confidence. “I’ll be happy to teach you.”

           

 

                                                            *

 

 

            When Harry left Dumbledore’s office, he could still hear the Headmaster and Elizabeth Night involved in quiet conversation. But no matter how curious he was about what they were discussing, he knew better than to linger when Dumbledore had dismissed him.

            He took his time heading back to his Potions lesson; he had no desire to endure Snape’s taunts, and he had a lot to think about. Just as he was approaching the dungeon classroom, the door burst open and a file of unhappy looking Gryffindors trooped out into the hallway, followed by the far more cheerful Slytherins.

            Ron and Hermione caught sight of him and rushed over.

            “What’s going on?” Ron asked.

            “Are you in trouble, Harry?” Hermione said worriedly.

            “No, I’m not in trouble, but it’s too complicated to explain right now,” Harry said quickly. “I’ll tell you after Defense Against the Dark Arts. You won’t believe it!”

            “Is that so?” Professor Snape’s cold voice broke over them, and they glanced back to see him standing in the doorway to the dungeon, hands clasped behind him and a scowl on his face. “Potter, I should hope you’re not revealing any restricted information to these students. I would hate to have to report that kind of indiscretion to the Headmaster.” The glint in his eyes made it very clear that he would hate nothing of the sort.

            Harry bit back the urge to retort that Dumbledore had given him permission to talk to Ron and Hermione, but thought better of it. Besides, he didn’t want Snape knowing anything about his business. Given how much Snape hated Sirius, Harry wondered if Dumbledore had told Snape about Elizabeth Night’s mission at all.

            “Get in here, Potter.” Snape stepped to the side and pointed into the dungeon.

            “We’ll wait for you out here,” Ron said, looking at Snape defiantly. He wilted a bit under Snape’s fierce glare, but held firm. Professor Snape practically slammed the thick dungeon door in Ron and Hermione’s faces as soon as Harry was inside.

            Harry was expecting Snape to launch into a truly terrible lecture, but he just handed Harry the ingredients for a Thawing Potion, gave him some curt instructions and orders to bring it completed to the next class, then pointed again to the door.

            “Now get out, Potter. Unlike others who give you far too much attention, I have no more time for you. You should run if you hope to make it to your next class on time.”

            Harry thought of running, just to get away from Snape all the faster. But it was hard to run with all their books, so the three of them set off at a brisk walk. They were, in fact, eager to get to their next class. It was Defense Against the Dark Arts, and they wanted to get a taste of the real Moody.

            “So what’s going on?” Ron pressed him for answers.

            “No, really, it’s too complicated to tell you now. After class I’ll tell you everything. But I do know there’s no new teacher.”

            “See!” Hermione said smugly. “I knew it.”

            “But there is someone here to help Dumbledore, like Dean said.”

            “What for?” Ron asked.

            “Who is it?” Hermione said at the same time.

            “It’s a witch, only she’s not really a witch, but she’s doing some really important work for Dumbledore.”

            “You’re not making any sense, Harry.” Hermione frowned. “What do you mean, she’s a witch, but not really?”

            “Well, she’s a Wizard Shaman.”

            “Huh?” Ron grunted.

            Hermione looked fascinated. “I think I’ve read about that in -”

            Ron rolled his eyes. “Big surprise.”

            But Harry was glad. “Good, because it’s all pretty strange, so maybe you can clear it up for us later.”

            “What’s she like?” Ron asked curiously.

            Harry grinned at him. “Pretty.”

            Hermione let out a very irritated sigh. “Don’t you two ever think about anything else?”

            “I don’t know, Hermione,” Ron retorted. “We weren’t the ones secretly running around with Viktor Krum all year, were we? And hey....” His eyes narrowed as the perfect moment finally came for him to ask the question. “What about the summer?” His voice cracked a bit, which made him flush red, but it didn’t deter him. “Did you visit him over the summer?”

            “Well...” Hermione flushed red.

            Well??” Ron echoed expectantly. “Did you?”

            But they had reached the classroom, and the door was standing open. The room was already full of Gryffindor students, but no Professor Moody.

            “Come on,” Harry said. “We’re lucky he’s not here yet to catch us coming late. We can talk about everything later.”

            Dean and Seamus had saved them seats near the front of the class. No sooner had they settled into their chairs than the sound of uneven footsteps echoed from the hall, and everyone fell silent. The rest of the students remembered how Moody had been the year before, and they couldn’t help feeling a bit of trepidation. Harry, Ron and Hermione felt the same way, but for different reasons.

            Mad-Eye Moody limped into the room, his magical blue eye rolling about and taking them all in as he headed straight for his desk without turning his head. Harry had almost expected Moody to look different, but he looked exactly the same as last year - though this real Moody had put on some healthy weight since escaping from imprisonment in his trunk. The exact resemblance was rather unnerving. Then again, Crouch had used a Polyjuice potion to impersonate Moody, and Harry had personal experience with the effects of Polyjuice potions.

            Moody reached his desk, turned finally to face the class, and slapped something down on the desktop with such force that an inkholder toppled over and several quills rattled onto the floor. The entire class jumped.

            “I am aware,” Moody started without preamble, his gravelly voice just as rough as his face and wild hair, “that last term I told you I would only teach here for a year. Things change. I’m giving you all one more year, and then it’s off to other business.”

            Harry, Ron and Hermione exchanged knowing glances.

            “I taught you curses last year.” Moody swept the class with his gaze, beady eye glinting darkly. “You learned them from a master. It had better do you some good.”

            Moody looked down at the desk and picked up the parchment with the class register on it, then abruptly tore it in two. “Don’t need this. I know who you all are. Always be aware of the people surrounding you. Keen observation is the key to surviving any dangerous situation.” As though to illustrate his point, the magical blue eye rolled back into his head, then rotated sideways into view again, focused now on the door.

            Dean Thomas glanced at Harry with a half grin, and soundlessly shaped the well remembered words, ‘Constant vigilance.’

            “Precisely, Mr Thomas!” Moody barked, and Dean jumped, flushing crimson.

            Harry thought that, Polyjuice potion aside, Barty Crouch had obviously had a lot of experience dealing with Moody before assuming his identity. The personalities matched exactly. That was why he had managed to fool even Dumbledore until the very end.

            “This class is not going to be fun,” Moody practically growled. “You will not be learning textbook fluff this year. You will learn practical -” he thumped the desk with one fist -  real” - he thumped it again - “and potentially dangerous defensive magics. I fully expect you to have to use them, times being what they are.”

            Harry wondered if he only imagined that Moody’s roving blue eye momentarily fixed on him, but figured gloomily that he probably hadn’t.

            Moody picked up the object he had slammed onto the desk on entering, and held it up now for the entire class to see. It was a silver disc, no larger than the rim of a tea cup, hanging on a silver chain.

            “This,” said Moody, “is an Auris Medallion. It is an artifact, created by the wearer, to serve as a defense against dark magic. It will warn its creator of dark magics being worked upon him, and in some cases warn him of deception being perpetrated by those around him. It is a very difficult item to create, but you are all going to make one.”

            The class was staring at Professor Moody in shocked silence, a bit intimidated by what he was saying. Everyone that is, except Hermione, who whispered something eagerly under breath. Harry didn’t need to hear to guess what it was probably about.

            “Making an Auris Medallion is very difficult,” Moody went on. “Because of your lack of experience, your Medallions may not be as powerful. But make them you will, and if you’re very lucky, some of you might actually end up with a useful talisman. “

            Suddenly, Moody’s wand was in his hand. Harry blinked in surprise. Either Moody had silently summoned it from somewhere, or he had moved so quickly that retrieving the wand from his clothes had seemed instantaneous. Given everything Harry had heard about Moody’s past accomplishments as an Auror, he didn’t know which to assume.

            Moody waved his wand at a trunk in a corner of the room - a very different trunk, Harry noticed, from the one that had been in his office last year. The lid popped open, and dozens of silver discs zoomed out of the trunk, whizzing through the air to land perfectly in the center of each student’s desk.

            Moody’s dark eye narrowed at the class. “Now listen carefully, it is important that you follow my instructions exactly.”

            Harry watched Moody, listening intently, and tried not to get too distracted by the way Moody’s magical eye kept restlessly rolling about in its socket.

            The minutes rolled on and on, and they hadn’t even touched their discs. In fact, when Seamus Finnigan tried surreptitiously to pick his up and inspect it, Moody spotted him and zapped his fingers with a freezing charm, which he dispelled only after giving them all a long lecture on following instructions to the letter. No one attempted to touch the discs after that.

            Moody told them all sorts of things about Auris Medallions. He told them that while the Medallion would warn the wearer, by turning numbingly cold, whenever dark magic was being worked against them, this was not always as useful as it might sound. He reminded them that if a dark wizard were to use one of the Unforgivable Curses on you, for example, those Curses worked so quickly that by the time you noticed the Medallion’s warning, it would be far too late to do anything about it. Where the Medallion might help, was if someone was attempting to keep you under the influence of a glamour or illusion, or if you were being slowly poisoned by some undetected potion. An exceptionally well made Medallion could also work somewhat like a Sneakoscope, warning the wearer if he was in the presence of a dark wizard, though not even the strongest Medallion could pinpoint an exact culprit. Moody, however, seemed grimly certain that none of them would be able to make such an effective Medallion.

            Harry wondered to himself why they were being forced to make them if Moody was so sure they’d fail at it.

            And then Moody told them the worst bit.

            “You may not even succeed in completing the Medallion at all, if you fail in the most important step. Each of you must choose a word, one word only, which has great meaning to you. A word that gives you confidence. Something, in short, which you feel belongs on a talisman to ward off dark forces. If this word is not truly significant to you, if it does not inspire you in some way, then not only will your Medallion be useless, it may very well explode when you try to inscribe the word on it.”

            “Oh no,” Neville Longbottom moaned quietly.

            But this concept, at least, Harry had no problem understanding. He remembered when Professor Lupin had taught him the Patronus Charm, how the spell didn’t work unless he was focused on a truly happy, truly meaningful thought. This sounded very similar.

            “Defensive magics are not easy to master.” Moody swept his gaze sternly over the class, eyes moving in separate directions. “But you will only learn by experience. Most of you will probably fail this assignment, but you’ll all learn.”

            The whole class was staring at Moody nervously, hands kept well away from their silver discs. Only Hermione looked enthusiastic about tackling the project.

            The silence was broken by the magically carried sound of bells chiming which signaled the end of class. Several people sighed with relief, but Moody wasn’t finished. He thumped toward the door, still talking as they gathered their books and quills.

            “You can touch the discs now. Keep them near you. Silver has a very specific resonance, and must be well tuned to your wand. And start thinking about the word you’re going to choose. You’re all dismissed, then. Go on.”

            He stood by the door as the class filed out, most people clutching their silver discs tightly. Neville, however, had fumbled and dropped his on the floor, and Hermione was standing in front of him, trying to shield him from Professor Moody’s view while he picked it up again, having apparently forgotten how useless such an effort would be in Moody’s case.

            “That was intense,” Ron muttered quietly to Harry.

            “Yeah,” Harry said absently, eyes glued on his disc. Slowly, he picked it up. The silver was smooth and cool, and rather heavy.

            Neville had finally managed to get his disc safely tucked away in his bag, but he was murmuring anxiously to Hermione, “I don’t understand, why do we have to make this if it probably won’t do us any good?”

“Because.” Moody’s rough voice broke over them, and Harry turned around to see that they were the only four students left in the classroom, and that Mad-Eye Moody was limping towards them. “The talisman itself is not as important as what you will learn about yourself while making it. Do you think that only stupid people fall to the temptation of Dark magic?” Moody looked at them with both eyes forward now, gravelly voice very gruff. “The most intelligent and knowledgeable wizards have turned bad, all their defensive spells useless, because they didn’t have the conviction to fight, the inner strength. They lacked faith in themselves. But if you can see your own strengths and weaknesses clearly enough to choose the right word for yourself, then maybe that’s just what you’ll learn.”

For a moment, his eerie gaze fixed on Neville, who gazed back, pale, but unusually attentive.

 

 

//
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