The Sugar Quill
Author: Jedi Boadicea (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Memories of Tomorrow / Dreams of Yesterday: A Series  Chapter: Chapter 2: Memories of Tomorrow, Part 2
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MEMORIES OF TOMORROW

MEMORIES OF TOMORROW

Part 2

 

            Most of the talk that evening in the Gryffindor common room was about the words people were going to choose for their Medallion. It seemed that the fourth and sixth years were also making Auris Medallions. First, second, and third years were apparently not advanced enough in their studies to handle the spells required, and the seventh years were working instead on counter curses so complex they made Harry’s head reel just overhearing Fred and George discussing them.

            “So what are you going to choose, Harry?” Ron asked, prodding the silver disc in his lap with his wand. Harry thought prodding it like that might not be the best idea, but didn’t say anything about it.

            “I don’t know,” he answered. But that was a lie. A word had come to him during dinner in the Hall, and he knew immediately that it was the right word for him. He just didn’t want to share it at the moment, not with other people around. He liked Fred, George and Ginny very much, but this was something he’d rather keep just between himself and Ron and Hermione. It felt personal.

            “I don’t know what I’m going to pick, either,” sighed Ron. “Moody was so intense about it. I feel like I really have to think about this one.”

            “You should,” Hermione said seriously. “Making an Auris Medallion is complicated. All the Aurors make them, you know. That’s where the name comes from.”

            A thought came to Harry then. Moody’s class had inspired so much talk that he had almost forgotten he hadn’t yet told Ron and Hermione about what happened in Dumbledore’s office that morning. They needed to go somewhere private.

            “You’ve probably read about them in a book, right?” Harry said to Hermione.

            “Yes,” she said, a bit defensively, probably expecting to be teased again. 

            “That’s great!” Harry enthused as convincingly as he could, and Ron shot him an amazed look. “Can you show it to us? Won’t hurt to study on such an important assignment. Maybe we can take it to the library and look it over. And maybe you can both help me with my Potions assignment, since I missed it.”

            Ron’s eyes widened in understanding. “Oh! Yeah! Maybe that’s a good idea.”

            Hermione shot up. “I’ll run up and get the book. Be right back.” And she dashed up the stairs to the girls’ dormitory.

            Ginny was looking at them oddly, clearly suspecting something. But at that moment, Fred managed to put a levitation charm on George’s chair, and just barely grabbed on to his twin’s hand as it lifted them both into the air. The entire common room erupted into shouts and laughter, and Lee Jordan began using his homework, and a few other people’s as well, as makeshift projectiles with which to try to peg the floating chair and its occupants. In the commotion, Harry and Ron made it out through the portrait hole without being noticed. Only a few moments passed before the portrait of the Fat Lady swung up again and Hermione burst through, a book under her arm.

            “Where should we go to talk?” she whispered.

            “Let’s go outside,” Harry suggested. “It’s still early enough to be out for a walk. I don’t want anyone to overhear us.”

            They hardly said a word to each other as they made their way out over the grounds, skirting the edge of the lake. Eventually they stopped under a large tree. The view of the lake and castle really was spectacular, with the sunset painting the sky all shades of red and orange. But Harry hardly noticed, he was so excited about what he had to say.

            Ron and Hermione listened carefully while Harry told them everything that Dumbledore had said, trying to recall all the details about the Wizard Shamans. Whenever Ron tried to interject with something, Hermione shushed him, her face screwed up in concentration as she listened. Finally Harry finished, and sat down on the grass next to them.

            “Wow,” Ron said, shooting a glance at Hermione to see if she was going to shush him again, but she was clearly lost in thought. “Wow, Harry. I mean....if this Night can do what she says, then you’ll get to live with Sirius!”

            “I know!” Harry grinned. “I really hope it works.”

            “It all sounds a bit weird to me.” Ron shook his head. “Everyone says predictions and visions like that are really unreliable. I mean, look at Professor Trelawney!”

            Hermione spoke up. “The Wizard Shamans are different, Ron. All the books that mention them say that their magic was really strong, and very reliable. I read about You-Know-Who hunting them down. They really did a good job keeping hidden, everyone thinks they were completely wiped out. I wonder what the reaction would be if the truth got out. Some people were pretty afraid of the Shamans.”

            “Afraid of them?” Ron repeated incredulously. “Why on earth would you be afraid of them? That’s got to be the most useful power I’ve ever heard of, seeing the future!”

            “Because they can see into your past, Ron, just by spending time with you. How many things have you done in the past that you don’t want anyone to know about?” 

            Ron’s expression changed drastically. “Oh. I didn’t think of that.”

            “What I don’t get,” Harry said, “Is if the Shamans can do all that, why didn’t the Wizard Courts ever use them to get true confessions out of people? If there’d been a Shaman around before Sirius got thrown in Azkaban, he never would have been convicted!” Always assuming, of course, Harry thought darkly, that they’d given him a trial in the first place.

            “The Ministry tried, Harry,” Hermione said. “They tried to convince the Shamans to come and serve in the Courts, but the Shamans refused. None of the books I read really explained why they refused, but I think it had something to do with their teachings.”

            Ron shrugged. “Why don’t you just ask this Night person?”

            “We can all ask her,” said Harry, “because Dumbledore said he wants the three of us to show her around the school.”

            Ron gaped. “The three of us?”

            “Yeah. He even gave me permission to tell you both everything he told me.”

            “Well,” Hermione said matter of factly. “We have been able to get ourselves out of all sorts of scrapes by working together. I’m sure Dumbledore respects that.”

            “Yeah.” Ron grinned, though he rolled his eyes a bit at Hermione’s tone. “We’re quite a team, all right.”

            “He said it was good that I had people I could trust,” said Harry, thinking back on his entire conversation with Dumbledore. “He seems to think I’ll need that from now on.”

            Harry regretted having said anything of the sort when he noticed the way Ron and Hermione’s expressions changed. They were looking at him suddenly with a great deal of concern, and casting serious glances at each other.

            “What?” Harry snapped, suddenly irritated. “You two have been doing that for days! Would you stop it?”

            Ron flushed, but Hermione met Harry’s gaze and said calmly, “Stop what, Harry?”

            “Stop looking over my head with these worried expressions, like you’re expecting me to keel over and die at any minute! Like you’re expecting Voldemort to come charging over the next hill and chop my head off!” Harry realized abruptly that he was shouting, and that he was very angry.

            But Hermione, while her eyes were wide, did not look particularly fazed by his outburst. “Yes, we’re worried. And no, we can’t stop, Harry. We won’t stop worrying, because we care about you. You’re our friend. And don’t try telling us you’re not worried, otherwise you wouldn’t be so angry.”

            Harry opened his mouth, furious, ready to argue, and then he hesitated. Because Hermione was absolutely right. He wanted to deny that he was worried about Voldemort. He hadn’t even talked to them about his nightmares this past summer, though he felt certain Ron knew about them anyway, as they had been sharing Ron’s room at the Burrow for weeks. But he hadn’t said anything to them, because he didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t want to bring it all up again. Part of him wanted to deny that the end of last year had ever happened.

            But he had just been talking about what Dumbledore had said about having friends he could trust. He realized he had been keeping his closest friends at a distance, at least in regards to his fears, and that was no way to keep their trust. Hermione’s impassioned words made him rather guilty for yelling at them.

            “I’m sorry,” Harry said quietly. “I shouldn’t have yelled. I’m just... you’re right... I’m worried, too.”

            “Yeah, we know,” Ron said, frowning. “Do you think we’re blind?”

            “No. I’m just... sorry...”

            “Don’t be sorry, Harry,” Hermione said gently. “You can trust us, remember? Even Dumbledore said so.” She smiled.

            Harry smiled back faintly. “Thanks. And I do trust you, you know that. I just.... I just don’t know if I really want to talk about it.”

            “Fair enough.” Hermione said, shooting Ron, who looked like he was about to protest something, a silencing look. “Just remember that we’re here if you want to talk, okay?”

            “Right.” Harry nodded, then forced a more cheerful smile. “And hey, if I get to live with Sirius next summer, I promise I’ll invite you both to stay with me for a change.”

           

 

                                                            *

                                                           

 

            The next morning, as Harry, Ron and Hermione left the Great Hall after breakfast, they were stopped at the base of the main stairs by Professor McGonagall. Standing next to her, now wearing black robes over her unusual clothing, was Elizabeth Night.

            “Good morning.” Professor McGonagall greeted them, giving stern looks to passing students who seemed to want to stay and eavesdrop. People were looking curiously at Elizabeth, but they moved along under McGonagall’s warning look.

            “Good morning, Professor,” Harry said. “Good morning, Miss Night.”

            “Good morning, Harry.” Elizabeth smiled, eyes bright.

            “Potter, Miss Night will be attending your classes with you for the rest of the day,” Professor McGonagall said. There was an odd tension to her voice, but she continued, “I expect you to be a good host, and to help her acquaint herself with the grounds.”

            “Yes, Professor.”

            “Very well.” McGonagall turned to Elizabeth. “Remember, contact Albus or myself if anything... happens.”

            Harry, Ron and Hermione exchanged quick, curious glances. What did she mean? But Elizabeth merely nodded. “I will, Professor. Thank you. I’m sure I’m in good hands with Harry and his friends.”

            McGonagall nodded curtly, then headed off to prepare for her lessons. Elizabeth turned back to Harry and the others, smiling again, and said in a quiet, conspiratorial voice, “Is Professor McGonagall always so serious?”

            Harry grinned. “Always. Usually worse.”

            “Can you introduce me to your friends, Harry?”

            “Oh! Yeah. Sorry. This is Hermione.”

            Hermione stuck out her hand eagerly. “Harry’s told us all about you. I have all sorts of questions about... about what you do.” She seemed to have stopped herself on the verge of blurting out something obvious about Wizard Shamanism; there were still students tromping by them going to and from breakfast, after all. 

            Harry wondered if he only imagined that Elizabeth hesitated a moment before taking Hermione’s hand, but she did take it, and was still smiling as she said, “I’ll answer what questions I can. As long as you’re willing to answer some of mine. I hear you’re the best student in your year.”

            Hermione blushed with pleasure.

            “And this is Ron,” Harry said. 

            Ron stuck out his hand too. He was looking at Elizabeth with a vacant sort of expression similar to the one he had worn last year every time Fleur Delacour walked into a room, though nowhere near as severe. “Uh.... hello.”

            “Ron.” Elizabeth gave him a curious look. “Would I be correct in assuming you’re Ron Weasley?”

            Ron’s eyes widened a bit. “Yeah. How did you....”

            “Professor Dumbledore did tell me Harry had a friend by that name,” Elizabeth said, then grinned. “But I’d recognize that Weasley hair, anyway, I think. I just recently had the good fortune of meeting your brother Bill.”

            Ron gaped. “You met Bill? How? Where?”

            “A story for a later time, I think. Shouldn’t we be heading to your class?”

            Harry nodded, and Elizabeth walked beside him as they continued through the Hall. Just behind him, he could hear Ron muttering, “I’ll kill Bill for not telling me!”

            “If anyone asks,” Elizabeth said quietly, and all three strained to listen, “I’m visiting Hogwarts for ideas on which to found a school in the States. We’ll talk more about our business later.” She looked meaningfully at Harry.

            “All right,” said Harry. “We’ll have the whole afternoon free after Care of Magical Creatures.”

            But first was their Herbology class with the Hufflepuffs. When they arrived at the greenhouse complex, the other students gave Elizabeth very curious looks and whispered among themselves. Dean Thomas nudged Seamus in their direction, no doubt to ask questions, but just then Professor Sprout appeared. Unlike the students, she seemed entirely unsurprised to see Miss Night.

            “Greenhouse Two, chaps. Let’s go.” She herded the class forward, then paused as she passed Harry, Ron, Hermione and Elizabeth. “Good to see you, Miss Night. Very good indeed, in these times.”

            Elizabeth’s easy smile looked a bit sad. “Thank you, Professor Sprout. I hope I won’t be an inconvenience in your class.”

            “Oh, of course not! As a matter of fact, I have some Wisdom Weed that’s been doing rather poorly, I was hoping you might help me with it a bit. We’ll chat later in the lesson, then.”

            Harry wanted to ask about Wisdom Weed, and how Miss Night could help with it, but he kept silent. She had said that she didn’t know much about magic, but he had a hard time believing that, all things considered. 

 Elizabeth joined Harry, Ron and Hermione at their table, in the corner of the greenhouse work area. Professor Sprout informed the class that they would be working on harvesting pods from mature WhistlePod plants, which would emit a loud, piercing whistle to scare off predators unless the pods were stripped properly. She demonstrated the procedure, then promptly deposited a potted WhistlePod on every table and set them to work. Almost immediately, shrill whistles started echoing throughout the greenhouse, and Professor Sprout began making hurried rounds, quelling the outbreaks.

            Hermione set to harvesting their Pod perfectly, and Harry and Ron watched her at work for a good few minutes before feeling sure enough to help. There were always good things about having Hermione at your table, Harry thought.

            Elizabeth made no move to participate in their task, but she did watch their work closely, and asked many questions about Herbology which Hermione was happy to answer. She told them that many of the magical plants they worked with at Hogwarts could not be found where she had been raised. But when Hermione asked curiously what State she lived in, Elizabeth’s open expression closed off, and her pale eyes grew a bit more distant.  “I’m afraid I can’t tell you,” she said quietly.

            Harry remembered that Dumbledore had said there were very few Wizard Shamans left, but a few meant more than one. If these other Shamans were hiding in the same place Elizabeth had been hiding, it made sense that she wouldn’t speak of it. But it made the three of them very curious.

            Just then, Professor Sprout came to their table, carrying a small brown pot with a sickly looking plant in it.

            “How are you three doing, then?” She peered at their WhistlePod, then nodded with satisfaction. “Very good. Good technique, Miss Granger. Now, then.” She turned to Elizabeth. “Shall we step over here for a moment and see what we can do for my Wisdom Weed?”

            “Certainly.” Elizabeth rose and followed Professor Sprout to an empty table.

            Harry was craning his neck to get a better of view of what they were doing, when he saw a girl from a neighboring table lean over to whisper to Hermione, “Who’s that?”

            “Miss Night,” Hermione said in a perfectly normal voice that didn’t even hint at anything unusual. “She’s doing research on Hogwarts for forming a new school in the States.”

            Harry recognized the girl as Susan Bones, a fifth-year like themselves, and a newly made Prefect from Hufflepuff. “I understand why she’s with you, then, Hermione. You’re the best in the year.” Susan didn’t seem to mind praising Hermione (maybe it had something to do with the trademark Hufflepuff modesty). But she frowned afterward, and said in a tone very reminiscent of Percy’s, “But I would have thought they’d inform the Prefects about a visitor like this! We could help. And, hey Hermione!” Susan suddenly leaned even closer to Hermione. “Why aren’t you a Prefect? Terry Boot, the Ravenclaw Prefect, he told me that they offered it to you, and you turned it down. I would have thought you’d want it for sure!”

            Harry and Ron gaped, and turned stunned looks on Hermione. Hermione ignored them both and said, “I just wanted to focus on other things, that’s all.”

            At that moment, one of Susan Bones’ partners slipped while pulling off a pod, and their WhistlePod plant began to whistle piercingly. Susan quickly turned her attention back to her own table.

            “Hermione,” Ron began, still staring at her in shock, pod-pulling tweezers forgotten in his hand, “You were made a Prefect? And you turned it down?”

            “Why?” Harry asked.

            “I already said,” Hermione snapped. She was clearly very touchy on the subject. “I wanted to focus on other things. What difference is it to you? Besides, with all the rule-breaking you two get involved in, I couldn’t be in a position of responsibility and look the other way, could I?”

            Harry gaped again. Was that really why she had turned away the chance to be a Prefect? He felt sure that it was an honor Hermione must certainly have coveted. Had she really turned it down because of him and Ron?

            Professor Sprout bustled by them then, on the way to Susan Bones’ table to quiet the shrill WhistlePod. Harry glanced back to where Elizabeth Night now sat alone at a table with the sickly potted plant. Then he saw something that made him nudge Hermione and Ron.

            They saw Elizabeth staring intently at the little plant. It looked ragged around the leaf-edges, and definitely off color. She murmured something under breath, then lifted one of her hands and held it in the air just over the plant. A soft, white light began to glow around her hand. The glow slowly expanded, and when it touched the plant, the tired-looking weed suddenly stiffened; leaves unfurled and shaded quickly to a healthy green. 

            Ron whistled very softly under his breath. “I’ve never seen even Professor Sprout heal a plant like that. And she didn’t even use her wand.”

            “She said she doesn’t have a wand,” Harry whispered.

            “Well she didn’t need it for that, whatever she did,” Hermione said thoughtfully.

 

                                                            *

           

            Care of Magical Creatures followed Herbology, and Elizabeth accompanied them across the green. She talked to them very casually, asking questions about the grounds and their experiences at Hogwarts as they drew nearer to Hagrid’s hut. Even after such a short time, Harry felt that there was something particularly trustworth about her, and he could tell by the way that Hermione and Ron spoke to her that they felt the same way. They all wanted to ask her about the magic she had used on the weed in Herbology, but they had agreed to wait until the afternoon when they would have complete privacy.

            They arrived at Hagrid’s cabin to find the huge gamekeeper already outside, peering into a large wooden pen. From the sound of scuffling inside of it, Harry guessed that the pen contained whatever strange creatures they would be working with this term. He hoped fervently they weren’t skrewts or Flobberworms or anything else slimy, and that the creatures at least had distinguishable heads.

            “Well there yeh are! Why haven’t yeh come ter visit me afore now? I thought fer sure I’d see yeh before classes started.” Hagrid came over to clap Harry, Ron and Hermione on the shoulders, and then seemed to notice Miss Night for the first time. “Eh? Hullo. Yeh’d be Miss Night, would yeh? Dumbledore said yeh’d be comin’ ter some classes. Me name’s Hagrid. Good ter meet yeh.” Hagrid stuck out a huge hand, and Miss Night shook it without hesitation, which Harry thought rather brave considering how small and weak her own hand looked in comparison.

            “I hope yeh like animals,” Hagrid said to Miss Night, smiling eagerly as he looked back at the pen.

            “I do,” Elizabeth said. “I have a good touch with animals and plants.”

            Hagrid dragged them over to the pen and proudly showed them what looked like a mound of huge fuzzy worms with ant-like legs. “Prismapillars,” he announced. “If we feed ‘em right, and build ‘em a good den ter live in, they’ll be moltin’ soon, and we can see ‘em fly.”

            Several of the other Gryffindors had also clambered curiously around the pen, but they didn’t get the chance to ask him any questions about the strange creatures, because at that moment the Slytherins arrived. Harry had hoped that they would somehow have managed to escape taking Care of Magical Creatures with the Slytherins. Potions with them was bad enough. Unfortunately, here they were, and the first voice they heard as they approached was Draco Malfoy’s.

            “What abysmally stupid monster are we going to be burdened with this time?”

            Hagrid, who seemed to be taking a leaf from Hermione’s book, completely ignored Malfoy’s comment and turned instead to put on a pair of thick gloves. While his massive back was turned, the other Slytherins edged closer to the pen to see what was inside, and Malfoy saw Miss Night. His cold gray eyes narrowed and he looked her up and down, then allowed his gaze to travel over Harry, clearly noting the company she was keeping. That was all he needed to make his decision, and a sneer formed on his face.

            “Who’s this?” Malfoy drawled. “A nanny for you, Potter?”

            Harry stiffened in surprise and anger. Draco had never before been quite bold enough to openly insult adults at the school.

            Ron also stiffened, and they were both on the verge of uttering angry retorts when Elizabeth laid gentle hands on their shoulders, shaking her head slightly to caution them to silence. She met Malfoy’s insolent gaze and actually smiled faintly. “Just a guest at your fine school, Mr Malfoy.”

            Malfoy’s eyes narrowed again when she spoke his name, and he looked suddenly put off his stride. “Or maybe -” he started, but at that moment Hagrid began to call out for the class’s attention.

            “How did you know his name?” Ron whispered to Elizabeth.

            “Dumbledore told me about him.”

            Harry felt a surge of relief at those words. He had been worried about the fact that Draco was still strutting around the school like nothing had happened. “Then Dumbledore’s watching him.”

            “Very carefully,” Elizabeth said, her expression once more serious. “What’s the old saying? Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

            The class passed rather uneventfully after that, though it involved a bit more hard labor than they were used to. Hagrid told them that the Prismapillars liked to sleep in dark, damp places, but that they fed on grass and leaves during the day. So the class needed to dig a den area, which they would then cover with boards, with a tunnel leading out to the surface so the Prismapillars could come out and feed. He assured them, however, that when the time came for the creatures to molt, seeing the end result of their metamorphosis would be worth all the work.

            The Slytherins grumbled about being forced to do manual labor, but Hagrid’s patience with the Slytherins’ attitude seemed to have come to an end over the summer holiday, and he tolerated none of their griping.

            When class was dismissed, Harry, Ron and Hermione lingered to say their goodbyes to Hagrid.

            “We’ll be by to visit soon, Hagrid,” Harry assured him.

            “Come by soon as yeh can, then,” said Hagrid. “I’ve got some stories ter tell yeh about what I’ve been doin’ over the summer.”

            They headed back up to the castle. Elizabeth said she’d join them for lunch, and actually sat with them at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. This attracted attention, though Elizabeth seemed not to mind. She seemed, in fact, rather oblivious to all the looks and curious whispers, though Harry doubted she was truly as oblivious as she seemed.

            At one point, when Elizabeth was listening attentively to Hermione spout off a long list of interesting facts about Hogwarts, Fred and George Weasley sat themselves next to Ron and Harry.

            “Who’s she?” Fred whispered, nodding at Elizabeth.

            “Elizabeth Night,” Ron said, with a hint of something like pride for being privy to the information.

            “American, is she?” George asked.

            “Yes,” said Ron.

            “She’s here to get ideas for forming a new school in the States,” Harry added quickly. He trusted Fred and George, but Dumbledore had warned him about keeping Elizabeth’s secrets quiet.

            “What’s she doing with you?” Fred asked.

            “How long is she staying?” George asked right on his heels.

            Ron narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Why do want to know so bad?”

            Fred and George cracked instant and identical grins.

            “Well,” said George, “we need to know how long we’ve got to win her over.”

            “And how to go about doing it,” Fred added shamelessly.

            Harry held back a laugh. “Win her over? Are you serious?”

            “Absolutely,” said Fred.

            “We’re always serious,” said George.

            “How could she resist?” Fred grinned again.

            “Really ruddy easily!” Ron hissed. “She...she’s...she’s not going to -”

            “What?” interrupted George, still grinning. “Afraid of a little competition?”

            Ron flushed. “Don’t be stupid!”

            “Sorry to interrupt,” Elizabeth’s low voice cut into their conversation. “But could you please pass the potatoes?”

            Even Harry blushed as he hurried to oblige; he really hoped that she hadn’t overheard the discussion. Fred and George, however, seemed to think this was a marvelous opportunity to introduce themselves, and pounced on it with enthusiasm. Elizabeth greeted them with a bright smile and said, “The hair really does run in the family, doesn’t it? I quite like it.”

            Fortunately, the twins had class immediately after lunch while the rest of them did not, and so they weren’t able to follow as Harry, Ron and Hermione led Elizabeth back out onto the grounds, back to the same isolated tree where they had come yesterday to discuss things.

            Elizabeth’s comment about the Weasleys’ hair seemed to have reminded Ron of something she’d said earlier, because as soon as they were sure of their privacy, he asked, “So how did you meet my brother Bill?”

            “Dumbledore sent Bill to find me in the States,” Elizabeth explained. “Your brother went to great personal risk to escort me safely here. I’m very much in his debt. He’s quite a remarkable man, and an excellent wizard.”

            Ron seemed not to know how to take this statement at all. Familial pride and a touch of definite envy seemed at war in his expression. Hermione noted his awkwardness with a slight frown, but came to his rescue nonetheless with a question of her own. “Miss Night, how did you heal that plant in Herbology?”

            “Ah, you were watching, then.”

            “Well, yes, I hope you don’t mind.”

            “Not at all.”

            “It’s just....” Hermione hesitated, then glanced at Harry.

            “Well,” Harry said, “You told me the other day that you don’t know very much magic, and that you don’t even have a wand. So I guess we’re just curious...”

            “About what I can actually do?” Elizabeth smiled. “Understandably. What I told you was true. I don’t own a wand, though Professor McGonagall is taking me this very evening to purchase one. It seems prudent that I should learn to use one as soon as possible. When it comes to the type of magic you study here at Hogwarts, I am a complete novice. You’ll find that I’ll be a disaster in classes like Charms and Transfiguration. I’m sure I could use your help there when the time comes. The training I have received as a Wizard Shaman is very... different.”

            The friendly, open expression on Elizabeth’s face began to fade, and she looked increasingly somber as she continued to speak. Harry thought her eyes seemed almost sad.

            “To be sensitive to the spirit aura of others, as we must be in order to summon visions of their past or future, we must first understand the nature of our own spirit. We need to understand how all living things join in the Sacred Hoop, the pattern of all life. We must learn to feel, to open ourselves, to see with clear eyes. I have been trained all my life to be sensitive to the spirit energy of living things. Plants and animals also possess this energy, though not in the same way as humans. It is still enough for me to sense, however, and because of that I can affect them. Before coming to Hogwarts, did any of you ever make things happen by magic?”

            They all nodded, Harry quite vigorously, thinking of the boa constrictor at the zoo.

            “You did that without knowing any spells, without wands. I do the same, except that, in a way, I’ve trained that ability. It’s not much - not compared to what you learn how to do here, anyway.” She waved a hand at the castle. “But it’s something.”

            Harry had a feeling that it was significantly more than ‘something’, but he knew better than to press people for answers when they were being deliberately vague. Elizabeth’s way of answering seemed to have a lot in common with Dumbledore’s.

            Hermione, however, seemed eager for more details, but a change in Elizabeth’s expression kept her quiet. Elizabeth was now regarding all three of them very seriously, and she said, “There are a few things I must, in all fairness, warn you about. You know why I’m here, of course.”

            Ron and Hermione nodded.

            “I told them how you’re going to try to conjure a vision to clear Sirius’ name,” Harry explained.

            “And how for that I must spend time with you?” Elizabeth asked.

            “Yeah.”

            “I must say now, then, that it is not necessary for Ron and Hermione to spend time with me. I know Dumbledore suggested you all be my hosts here, but I feel… a personal obligation to warn you. The more time I spend in your company, the more familiar I will become with your spirit aura. I will not, you have my word, deliberately call up any visions of your past or future without your clear permission. But as a result of my training, I cannot help but absorb certain images, and those images may sometimes appear in my dreams. That is out of my control. Now that you know this, I will understand if you would prefer to keep your distance.”

            Ron and Hermione glanced at each other, but hardly a moment passed before they looked back at Elizabeth.

            “Not a chance,” said Ron.

            “If Dumbledore trusts you to be with Harry, then we trust you,” said Hermione.

            Elizabeth smiled at them, and then at Harry. “You have highly discriminating friends, Harry.”

             “Yeah,” said Harry, and he remembered the conversation they had had in this place just the day before. He smiled.

            Ron and Hermione both smiled faintly, but said nothing more about it. They didn’t need to.

            “So...um....” Ron said, awkwardly breaking the moment, “How much time do you have to spend with Harry before you can conjure a vision?”

            “With Harry, a few days. It is important that this vision be very detailed and completely accurate. Getting from you your perceptive memories of another person’s aura... that’s difficult. Very soon, though, I’ll have to leave to spend time with Mr Black. That will take quite a bit longer.”

            Oddly, Harry realized that it made him somewhat jealous, to hear Elizabeth talking about spending all that time with Sirius when Harry himself couldn’t be with his godfather so freely. He hadn’t seen Sirius for months now, not since the night of the Third Task, and had no idea when he’d see him again. Sirius had sent him letters, of course. But it wasn’t the same. Still, he told himself it shouldn’t bother him. Miss Night was doing this for him, after all. At least partially. If she could clear Sirius’ name and enable Harry to live with his godfather, then that justified just about anything. Even having his own memories possibly show up in someone else’s dreams.

             “So then,” Ron said to Elizabeth, “You’ll be leaving in a few days? Are you coming back?”

            Harry saw, out of the corner of his eye, that Hermione was now glaring at Ron. Ron, however, didn’t seem to notice.

            “Yes, I’ll be leaving in a few days. But I think I’ll be coming back eventually. There are... other things I am doing for Dumbledore as well. But I’m afraid I’m not supposed to talk about those.”

            “Do you think -” Hermione began suddenly, looking as though she were struggling with herself about something. Elizabeth looked at her with raised eyebrows, waiting for her to continue. Hermione plunged on, speaking very fast, “Would you be willing to show us how you conjure a vision? I’d love to see it. You see, I read some things about the Shamans in Lost Arts of the Wizarding World, and I have so many questions.”

            Elizabeth frowned thoughtfully. “That might not be a bad idea. It might be a good test, to see how well I have gathered impressions from Harry. Can you think of an incident in your past, which involved Sirius, that you would be willing to have me recreate?”

            Harry was trying to think of a time when he had been with Sirius when nothing terrible had been happening. The last time he’d seen Sirius came first to his mind, just after seeing Voldemort…his parents… just after Cedric had died....

            But Ron’s voice interrupted his dark thoughts. “I know! How about when you two helped Sirius escape the castle? I was unconscious, remember. I’d love to see you two stealing Buckbeak and Sirius flying away from those Dementors!”

            “Oh, yes!” agreed Hermione.

            It was settled. Elizabeth asked for no details about the night in question, she merely said that before she left Hogwarts she would do her best to conjure a vision of the past for them. Harry found he was just as excited about seeing it as Hermione was.

 

                                                            *

 

            Perhaps it was because of all the talk of memories and dreams, but that night Harry had the first nightmare he’d experienced since arriving back at Hogwarts. It started, like so many of them had over the summer, in the maze. He was running through the hedges again, only now he wasn’t looking for the Triwizard Cup, he was looking for Cedric. Always looking for Cedric. And, as always in his nightmares, he would finally find Cedric at the center of the maze, and Cedric would start to plead with him. “No, Harry, please, just leave me here. Take the Cup. I don’t want to die.”  But Harry grabbed the Cup, every time, and forced it into Cedric’s hands, because it was his fault, and they were sucked away into a whirlwind of tombstones and green light and red eyes.....

            The nightmares were never quite the same as the real experience had been. They were significantly worse in some places, and some of the events or the words had become hazy over time. But always there was pain, and Cedric, and fear, and his parents, and Voldemort’s red eyes....

            But this time there was something else, something new. As he was fleeing, running past the headstones, he tripped on something, on Cedric’s body suddenly beneath him, and fell headfirst… into someone’s arms.

            He looked up, and realized that he had collided with Elizabeth Night, and she was now holding him steady. Her grip was frm, but he saw that her eyes were wide with surprise.

            “How is this possible?” she asked. “You should not be here, Harry.”

            And Harry woke up, breathing hard, soaked in his own sweat. He sat up, throwing the sheets off, and pulled the curtains of his four-poster open, desperately wanting light. Moonlight poured into the room through the window, and Harry fumbled for his glasses with shaking fingers and put them on, relieved to see the room come into focus and to find that there was nothing lurking in the shadows. Neville’s snores filled the room, and someone, it sounded like Seamus, mumbled in their sleep.

            Harry sat on the edge of his bed for a long time, until his heartbeat slowed and he felt he could breathe calmly again, thinking all the while on Night’s strange appearance in his dream. That part at the end had felt real, like the dreams of Voldemort he’d had last year. The rest of the nightmare had been like all the others he’d had over the summer. Just a nightmare, terrible though it was.

            He really wanted to go find Elizabeth and ask her about it. But a glance out the window told him it was the middle of the night. He could sneak out with his Invisibility Cloak, but he had no idea were Miss Night was sleeping. And maybe he was just over-reacting anyway.

            With a sigh, Harry laid back down again. But he stared at the underside of his canopy for a long time, lost in bad memories, before sleep finally returned.

//
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