The Sugar Quill
Author: Evelyn Dreamtrot  Story: The Time-Turner  Chapter: Through the Looking Hourglass
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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.

Author's Note: Thanks, as always, to Zsenya for beta-reading.

 

The Time-Turner

 

Chapter One: Through the Looking Hourglass

 

Curiouser and curiouser…

Time demands a lot of people. It fabricates their desires and runs them dry and, eventually, deteriorates their vessel.

This should be rephrased.

Time demands a lot of normal people. Specifically, of Muggles. The other part of the world's population, if they so desire, have a lot more control over sand's passage from one bulb of the hourglass to the next. It can become a tool or… a toy? Those with the knowledge, as always, have the power.

For wizards it is only a matter of Time.

And this is how wizards were so much more advanced than non-magic folk for so much longer, and why they basically keep their same way of life while the Muggle way of life changes around them. They have figured out the way to live, and like to keep that, and their traditions, basically the same. The same costume, for instance. As impeding as they seem, those robes are remarkably innovative. Muggles won't catch on for a couple more centuries.

The truth is, a long time ago, a wizard decided to use his knowledge of time and take a stroll. And he took back with him, among other things, robes and Quidditch. He learned a few things about how to live in harmony with magic and Muggles (and how to keep the two separated) from the people of the future and took it back with him to the people of the past. Trial and error was completely unnecessary.

Wizards and witches have been living with the same legal systems, robes, and sporting events ever since… around the year 550 BC. And the real inventor of Quidditch woke up very confused one morning in 1903 with an idea for a game that had already been invented. She brushed it off and went outside to weed her garden.

And this has nothing to do with anything.

Except to finally mention one of the more insignificant changes in Time. A small egg timer that can bring you whenever you want. It hangs around the neck of a girl who wouldn't be anything extraordinary, though brilliant, if she wasn't best friends with one of the most powerful wizards in witchcraft and wizarding history. Who also happens to be a teenage boy.

If she hadn't known him, It may have just hung around her neck for her own purpose. As it is, she does know him, and It has done some pretty marvelous things already.

Consequently, those marvelous things proved to her how much she didn't want It. So she dropped a few classes.

And so It hangs from a tip of decoration on an ornate mirror in Professor Albus Dumbledore's wardrobe.

And glows slightly blue.

____

 

"Has anyone ever told you, Harry, how much you look like your father?"

Harry looked up at the offending yearbook. In gold lettering over a glittering coat of arms read the words Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry 1973.

"Not lately. Remind me again," he said to the fingers holding either side of the huge book. He could barely see her bushy hair over the top.

"Shut it, you two. I'm trying to understand this," said Ron.

"Banging your head on the tabletop, I dare say, is not going to help," said Hermione, lowering the yearbook down slowly under its weight and eyeing the top of Ron's red head. His forehead was pressed against his homework in frustration. He banged it again, for spite. "If you need help," she said surreptitiously. "You can just ask."

"I don't need your help. Harry?"

"Don't look at me. You're two essays ahead," said Harry, eyeing his own History of Magic homework with apparent chagrin.

"Only because I made the first three up."

"Really, you two ought to do your homework honestly for once."

"When the teachers honestly give us something they honestly think we can understand I'll do my homework honestly, Hermione."

She crossed her arms. "Honestly."

Something from earlier on in the conversation brought itself to Harry's attention.

"Why did you ask me if anyone ever asked me I… told me I looked like…" Tangled in the sentence, Harry rethought things and tried again. "Are you looking through my dad's yearbook?"

Hermione shrugged. "You mentioned it last night and I figured since I finished my homework so much sooner then you did… Thought I'd try to find him. And your mother, too. Here." She shifted the heavy yearbook across the table so it sat crooked in front of him. "You can thank me later."

Harry studied the picture.

"Fifteen here?" he asked halfheartedly. Hermione got up and stood behind Harry's chair.

"Sixteen, actually. And there's Lily."

Ron slammed his book closed. "Hate it. Bloody hate it. If the teacher weren't dead I'd kill him. Five bloody essays in one bloody night," he was muttering, glaring at his parchment where his handwriting was at its largest, trying to stretch the essay to two feet long.

"It wouldn't be five in one night if you had started when they were assigned, five days ago!" said Hermione.

Amidst the turbulence, Harry sighed. He turned the page to the seventh years.

"Ron! I've found your dad! He has hair! But… I… I can't find your mum. She's not in her picture… she… she's gone into your dad's picture! And they're… they're snogging!" exclaimed Harry, his mouth dropping open with mock surprise. The photograph of Molly Weasley waved back at him from her own place above her name.

Ron threw a stoppered bottle of ink in Harry's direction, growling. "That's bloody disgusting…"

Harry laughed and deftly caught the falling bottle. The sidewise dive to save the Library floor from certain staining sent him out of his chair with a clatter. Madam Pince shooshed them menacingly. Unfortunately, such cases of the giggles as these only become worse when trying to suppress them.

"Out!" roared Madam Pince, disrupting the golden silence she prized.

 

"Now look what you've done!" hissed Hermione, smacking Ron on the back of the head as they left the Library.

"Ow! What was that for? Harry started it!"

Hermione smacked Harry on the back of the head.

"Ow!"

"Look. I've gone and lifted a book from the library by accident. I have been reduced to a common thief; I hope you are both happy," chattered Hermione, standing in front of the Fat Lady's portrait. Ron sent his eyes skyward.

"Did you hear that everybody? Hermione nicked a book off the Librarian and she didn't even check it out," he said in the tones of someone who has witnessed something horrifying. "You bad girl, you."

"Will you two be quiet, please? I can't remember the password," said Harry. He ran a frustrated hand through his hair.

"Ooooh. Even worse, Hermione. You lifted a yearbook. 'S got Hogwarts' seal on it and everything. School's property, Hermione. Tsk, tsk. Worse then a library book, this is," Ron went on.

"Oh do shut up. Pig's Feet," said Hermione, and the portrait swung open.

Again, the conversation caught up to Harry's ears a few seconds late. "You took the yearbook, Hermione? Can I… can I see it?"

"Of course you can, Harry."

Ron, the last to climb through the portrait hole, caught his leg on something behind him and tumbled head over heels into the common room. He had recently accumulated more elbows and knees than he knew what to do with. Cursing, he stood and tripped over the rug. He lunged forward and grabbed Hermione's shoulders in an effort to right himself. She reached backwards and grabbed one of his hands to help, shaking her head.

"Oy, Harry, where are you off to?" asked Ron, after he'd disentangled himself from Hermione's hair.

"Wanted to get something from my room. Thanks for the book, Hermione. I'll be back in a moment," he answered, skipping every other step on his way to the boy's dormitory. He could use the yearbook as a timeline…

Several of the photographs in the album Hagrid had given him in his first year were taken of his parents during their school days. If they were sixteen in their sixth year, like Harry, then he could compare and find out how old they were in each of those pictures… He made a mental note, when they found their way back to the Library some other day, to find their other yearbooks. Maybe there were other ones, besides the portraits, like his dad on a broomstick playing for Gryffindor or something else that was supposed to represent student life. Yearbook staffs often did things like that.

Needless to say, Harry's curiosity about his parent's lives was infinite. And recently he had begun to wonder what they had been like when they were his age. At the same time other children were beginning to realize that their mum and dad used to have lives and were young once, Harry was too. But it wasn't the sort of realization you get by being around them, because he hadn't ever been. It was an epiphany one day while walking past the Gryffindor trophy case and spotting James Potter's plaque for outstanding Chasing. They weren't just his parents; they were Lily Evans and James Potter once upon a time. They had spent most of their lives as students. This school played a huge part in who they were. And they had been in love. This came as the same kind of shock to Harry as it does to children who have lived with their parents all their lives and then catch them kissing.

 

Except there was nobody for him to ask. Sirius was in hiding, Remus was living alone in a small town somewhere; no one else had known James and Lily as well as they had. And even the walls of Hogwarts can't talk. All Harry had was pictures.

"Hoo!"

"Hello, Hedwig," said Harry, heading for his trunk. "How are the lessons coming?"

"Splendidly," said Hedwig, adjusting her glasses on her nose.

Robes, books and whatnot were suddenly taking flight behind Harry where he knelt shifting through his trunk.

"Watch it!" said Hedwig as a notebook sailed over Harry's bent back and nearly hit her.

Let us step away from this for a second.

This could take some explaining. For those of you not familiar with the tale of Hedwig and her magic disappearing feathers, pay attention. Hedwig woke up one Christmas morning and, for unknown reasons at the time, had become a human girl. She regained her wings at sunset. However, Professor Dumbledore had heard of her exploits, and was currently teaching Hedwig how to be a Humagus. That is, an animal that can turn into a human, as opposed to an Animagus. As has become apparent, the lessons have been a success.

Mostly. The lessons have mostly been a success.

"My hair is still feathers. I can't seem to get rid of them. They don't want to be hair. They were hair before."

"You'll get the hang of it, Hedwig," said Harry, finally pulling himself from the depths of his trunk and smiling at the handmade book in his hands.

"I had hair before, right? The first time?" she asked, tugging a strand of feather forward so that she went cross-eyed examining it.

"Yes. You can ask Ginny if you like. She still has a strand of it." Harry slammed his trunk closed.

Hedwig snapped her fingers. "Ginny! That's it! If I can see what it looks like… Say, what are you doing?"

Harry turned around, the album under his arm, and noticed with alarm that Hedwig wasn't wearing anything.

"Hedwig!" He whipped around quickly and squeezed his eyes shut, the only boy in the world embarrassed to have seen his owl naked.

He heard her stamp a foot. "Oh, bother. I've forgotten again, haven't I? Bloody hell. Where's the wardrobe?"

Harry, his hands still over his eyes, which were clenched closed, pointed vaguely to the area beside his four-poster.

"Thanks so much."

He let out a little groan as he realized Hedwig had walked into his line of sight, had his eyes been open, to get at his clothes. Eyelids and hands just weren't thick enough. He turned the other way.

"Use the same one as-"

Rip went the fabric of another of his school robes as it squeezed around Hedwig's frame.

"-last time…"

"Sorry."

"It's all right. Come on. There was no one else in the common room when I left, so you're safe," said Harry, picking up the yearbook and album again and heading out the door. The mysterious disappearing white-haired Gryffindor followed him, still tugging at Harry's robes where they fit her too tightly.

"Bugger clothes," she said.

"Don't even think about it. You're wearing them."

"Of course I'm wearing them. This stupid bald body would freeze if I didn't. Or someone would start blushing or something and we all know how horrible that is," she twittered sarcastically. "I still don't understand homin-"

"Hedwig!" exclaimed Hermione from her chair by the fireplace as they entered the common room. "Well done! You're coming along wonderfully!"

"Bravo, Hedwig. Except…" Ron had crossed the room and ruffled her hair in congratulations, only to have a white feather come off in his hand. "You're molting."

"Yes. Still trying to figure that one out. Feathers to hair is the hardest bit, I think."

While the other three talked, Harry had found himself a place on the sofa and opened the yearbook to the portraits of his parents.

Lily Evans smiled back at him, then waved almost shyly. Every few seconds a strand of her long red hair fell in front of her face. She would try to blow it back and laugh when she failed, then tuck it behind her ear. James Potter winked at him mischievously. Harry began to flip through the photo album.

There… They were around sixteen there, in a close-up of Lily and a girl he didn't recognize. They were both pulling faces and sticking their wands up the other's nose. Every few seconds Lily would accidentally stick it up too far and the other girl would yelp silently and snatch the laughing Lily's wand away from her. The bottom read: Mary Sue and Lily. Mary Sue? He'd wondered about that before. If he could have her last name…

He found Mary Sue in the yearbook almost immediately. A lanky, round-faced girl grinned at him and made various faces. "Mary Sue Anne Jenkins" read the lettering under her portrait. If she was alive… If he could ask her questions…

Oh, how ridiculous. What could he ask? And it would probably raise painful memories.

"What are you looking at, Harry?"

Hedwig was leaning over the back of the sofa, bent at her middle. She flipped over it and onto the cushion next to him, partly by accident.

"Are those your parents?" she asked, examining the photograph in Harry's lap upside down.

"Well, that is," he said, pointing to Lily. "My mum. That's a friend of hers."

"She's very pretty," announced Hedwig.

"Yes. She was."

Hermione and Ron took their seats quietly. They had noticed Harry's recent increased interest in his parents but both were unsure of what to say to him about it. Unfortunately, Hedwig was not yet entirely aware of what was and was not appropriate to say in certain circumstances. It was one of her more redeeming qualities.

"You would like to have known them," said Hedwig.

"Well… yes…" said Harry, looking up at her. "Of course."

Hedwig nodded and looked over to where Hermione and Ron were chatting quietly, Hermione in an armchair and Ron on the floor, trying to finish his essays.

"Have they smooched yet?" asked Hedwig out of the side of her mouth. Harry jumped out of his reverie.

"Shut it," he said, then paused. "No. Not to my knowledge, anyway."

"Damn hominoids and their so-called decency," she grumbled. "It amazes me, the talent of humans to completely miss what's right in front of their noses. Rubbish."

"I agree," said Harry, looking back at the photo album at a picture of James and Remus. Why hadn't he immediately recognized Professor Lupin in third year? He looked about fourteen here, pale and wiry, with the tell-tale dark circles under his eyes even in his youth.

"How badly would you like to meet them?" asked Hedwig suddenly.

"What?"

"You heard me."

"Very badly, I suppose. But… there's no use…"

Hedwig nodded almost understandingly and concentrated again on the fireplace, empty of a fire now that spring had come around.

"How very badly?"

Harry threw a pillow at her.

____

 

"Well done, Hedwig. Glad to have finally solved your molting problem," said Albus Dumbledore, sitting down at his desk.

"Yes. Now I have a shedding problem," said Hedwig, ruffling her own short cropped, finally, hair.

Albus laughed. "Next time we should try to manage clothing, yes? So you can give Mr. Potter his robes back?"

"Sounds good, Professor. Will you see to it he gets these back?" she said. For decency's sake, and no one else's, she Changed with Harry's robes still on.

"Hoo!" she said, trying to disentangle her wings from the sleeves.

There was a loud crash from Albus' smaller office, a door to their right. He glanced at Hedwig, who blinked back at him innocently, and crossed the room to inspect. The moment he left, Hedwig fluttered to his, thank goodness, open wardrobe and shuffled through his clothing with wings she would never have considered using in such a hand-like fashion before. She probably could have changed to human form to do this and made it a little easier, but she wasn't about to admit to herself that there were things owl appendages couldn't do as well.

She found the mirror and with a flick of her talons grabbed a thin gold chain. With a hoot to say goodbye to the Professor, she flew out of the window with what appeared to be a normal egg timer clutched in her talons.

A few seconds later Pigwidgeon fluttered out of another window. The ruckus of a distraction he'd made had startled him more than he thought it would.

 

____

 

"Morning, Harry!"

Harry groaned and rolled over. Why did Hedwig have to be such a morning owl?

He opened his eyes and glanced about, making sure the other boys were asleep. With another groan as sunlight hit his eyes he swung his pillow around and hit her in the face. She laughed and grabbed it from him. When he pulled his blankets up for a replacement pillow and refused to budge further she promptly sat on him.

"Ourf! Geroff!"

"It's Saturday, Harry. Don't sleep your free day away," she said with unusual cheerfulness. It dawned on Harry that she wasn't a morning owl. "I have a surprise for you!"

He rolled over so that she was sitting on his stomach, grinning at him. She was still very unselfconscious as a human, and very, very unaware of her weight, even with hollow bones. Harry gasped for air.

"What… is it?"

She dangled something in front of his nose.

"That looks very familiar, Hedwig," said Harry cautiously. "Very, very familiar."

"That's because it used to belong to Hermione. I remember you mentioned it to me, once," she said, obviously satisfied with herself. She examined it carefully. "Not very special looking, is it?"

Harry was staring at her, his eyes wide. He groped around for his glasses, put them on, and snatched the hourglass from Hedwig.

"You found Hermione's old Time-Turner?" he asked slowly and suspiciously. "Hedwig… why… what… how? Why… do I have the feeling you're not supposed to have this?"

"Because I'm not?"

"Hedwig!" he whispered accusingly.

"You said you wanted to meet your parents. I thought I'd surprise you," she said. She blinked at him happily, her huge golden eyes expectant.

"Hedwig. You don't mean what I think you mean… do you?"

"You can go back-"

"I can't! You can't go back in time like that! It… I could change a vital part of the past! I… could…" Harry stopped. If he took the invisibility cloak… and it wasn't like he'd be meeting himself, anyway, so there wasn't the risk of blowing himself up. He looked like his father… but…

…But what if something he did changed something small, and that ended up changing something huge? What if his parents never married… never had him…

They might both be alive.

Harry shook the thought away. But then he would never have been born.

He couldn't do this. Too much was riding on the past.

But if someone could go back to that night…

"No!" he said aloud, rolling Hedwig off of his stomach. Why did she have to present him with such a temptation?

"I know what you're thinking, Harry."

He looked up at her, surprised.

"You can't change that. Even if you could defeat You-Know-Who, you can't go back there."

"I could…"

"No, you couldn't. Changing history is bad enough. Changing such a pivotal moment in history could destroy the multiverse." She blinked at him with eyes that suddenly seemed wise.

"What?!" He swung his legs over the bed and turned to look at her where she sat, cross-legged.

"Try to think of it logically. If you went back and saved your parents, even killed You-Know-Who, then you will never have grown up with the Dursleys, never have missed your parents, possibly never have met me, never found a Time-Turner and gone back in time to save your parents. So will never have. But you did, which is why they would be alive."

"I'm confused," said Harry uncertainly.

"Exactly. The universe would be, too. It would cause a space-time continuumuum… uum," she trailed off. "I don't want you to change anything. I want you to see them."

Harry stared at the small hourglass in his hand. If he didn't mess with anything

"Let me talk to Ron and Hermione," he said finally.

"Oh, you know she'll try to stop you," said Hedwig, crossing her arms.

"Yes… if she does… then she should. And if she doesn't, I want her to be there. And Ron," he said slowly, pulling the bed curtains aside.

 

____

 

"Absolutely not!"

"Listen, Hermione," reasoned Harry. He had thought he would let Hermione's judgment be the deciding factor, but he couldn't let a chance like this pass him by. "We'd just pop in and pop out. We'd wear the invisibility cloak the entire time!"

"And what is it that sees through invisibility cloaks? The Marauder's Map! And who has the original?"

"The Marauders…"

"They'd find us out! And you look so much like your father he'd probably think you were him and… do something awful!" she finished, slamming a book closed.

She, Ron and Harry were sitting at a table in the common room, chatting when Harry had brought the Time-Turner up.

"Have you gone mad, Harry?" asked Ron, eyes wide. "You could make a royal mess of everything. What has that owl got you thinking?"

Harry sighed, fingering the hourglass. "I know. It was… just an idea. I don't think Hedwig understands the trouble this could cause…" But then again… perhaps she understood perfectly. That speech about the consequences of going back and saving his parents had certainly said otherwise. Perhaps she knew exactly what he was getting into.

Hermione placed her hand over the one of his that held the Time-Turner. "I'm sorry, Harry. We know it would be nice-"

"Nice? It would be beyond nice, Hermione. It would be…" Harry stopped. This was affecting him more then he would like to admit.

Hermione looked thoughtful for a moment. She closed her eyes.

"I suppose… If we kept the invisibility cloak on us the entire time…" she whispered. Harry was still staring at his hands.

"You're both nutters! Loony! 'Round the bend, Hermione, I can't believe you of all people-" began Ron, almost hysterically.

"Ron!"

He paused, surprised at Hermione's shout.

"What?"

She gave him one of her looks, her hand still on Harry's. A look that said plainly: He needs this. Can't you see he's in pain?

Ron sat down again, muttering. "Insane. Mad, that's what it is…" he said halfheartedly.

"Go get your invisibility cloak, Harry," she said quietly.

Harry could have kissed her. "You mean it, Hermione? And you'll… you'll both come with me?"

Hermione nodded and kicked Ron under the table, who also nodded.

"It's reckless of us, Harry. But at least I can recognize that," said Hermione. "Bring the Map, too."

Like lightning Harry was running up to the boy's dormitory, skipping stairs and thinking… This is too good to be true.

"Hedwig!"

The white owl sitting on a window sill fluttered her wings in satisfaction. As he rifled through his trunk again, she hooted appreciatively.

"Yes. I'm going. Thank you," said Harry, too excited to consider consequences anymore. "Do you want to come?"

Hedwig shook her head no and began preening a wing.

"I can't… thank you enough, Hedwig," he said, now on a search for the Marauder's Map.

There was a slight popping noise.

"Don't mention it," said Hedwig, human again and, thank goodness, fully clothed.

"Still feathers?" he asked, glancing over.

"Oh. Still have to think about that bit." She shook her head and he watched as the feathers on her head fell (no better word for it) into fine white hair. She grinned at him. "Who deserves a hug?" she asked, holding out her arms.

Harry smiled. He forgot often how much Hedwig craved affection from him.

He hugged her tightly and waved as he left the room, bounding down the stairs in his excitement.

 

____

 

"Where are we going, Hermione?" asked Ron as they walked through the corridor.

"The Library. If we go far enough back there will be no one to notice us disappearing. And if we go in and don't come back for a while, it won't be suspicious."

"Right. Because of all the time we spend in there, thanks to you," said Ron grumpily.

Harry was silent amidst the squabbling. He was too excited to let a word slip past his throat, because he was afraid that by the time it left his lips it would be a shout.

He was going to see them. Really see them. Alive, not ghostly shadows like during the Triwizard Tournament…

Once in the Library, surrounded by shelves, Hermione turned to both of them. "Empty your pockets."

"What?" asked Harry, startled.

"If something gets left behind, it could change things drastically. We'll only bring the Map and Cloak."

"Good thinking, Hermione," Ron ceded, patting himself down. "Nothing on me."

Hermione gave him a Look.

He sighed and handed her a bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavored Beans. She put it behind a book on a shelf and privately hoped the book didn't eat it. She gave him another Look.

He pulled out various varieties of candy and put them all in her outstretched hand. He stopped and shrugged. She kept it outstretched until he put a final Chocolate Frog on her palm.

"Happy?"

"Yes, thank you," she said, satisfied. "Anything, Harry?"

"Just a few quills." He put them on the bookshelf and shrugged. She gave him a Look. "Really!"

"All right. Let me see the Time-Turner," said Hermione slowly. She bit her lip as she examined a minuscule dial on its side. She muttered "Exollo," a charm Harry recognized as a magnifier of magical items. "Are you sure about this, Harry?" She glanced up at him.

He nodded. "Yes."

"You can't speak to them. They can't even know we're there and certainly not who we are. No tripping Snape, Ron. He'll be in their year. Nothing of that sort, okay? Our advantage under the Cloak is only to watch without being seen."

"Yes," said Harry.

Ron sighed. She read him to well. "All right."

She looped the long gold chain around the three of their necks and Harry put the invisibility cloak over them.

"It's supposed to be used for hours, but I've got it set to years to bring us back to 1973, all right, Harry?"

"Yes." The butterflies in Harry's stomach were doing an elaborate tango.

Hermione began flipping the Time-Turner over rhythmically and the world dissolved around them.

And returned exactly as it had left.

"You sure we've gone anywhere, Hermione?" asked Ron, glancing at the bookshelves around them.

"Yes. Your stuff is gone off the shelves," she said.

"Oh. Darn."

"Shhhh!"

Footsteps were approaching slowly.

"Damn Professor Binns. Who cares about History of Magic? Someone ought to do him in, crazy old bugger," someone was muttering. She turned into Harry's aisle and he recognized her immediately.

"Say, isn't that-" Ron whispered.

"Mum's friend! Yes it is!"

"Shhhh!"

Mary Sue Jenkins was tall, freckly, and very grumpy sounding.

"Bloody stupid essays…"

"Essays! He's been giving the same assignment at the same time since the seventies!" exclaimed Ron in a whisper. "Crazy dead bugger!" he hissed.

"Shhhh!"

Mary Sue had looked up, startled, and glanced around her. She looked right through the trio and shook her head. "Bloody hearing things now. If these books won't shut up…" She found the book she was looking for and left as quickly as she had come.

"Okay. All together. Let's go," said Hermione. She led the way through to the main area, where students were diligently working.

"Wow," breathed Ron. "I've never seen so many Beatle look-alikes…"

"That was the sixties, Ron. Bowl cuts carried on to the seventies, though, and were accompanied soon after by long hair," said Hermione, hairstyle historian.

Harry glanced over at Madam Pince's desk and nudged Ron. She looked exactly the same as she did twenty years from now.

"Riiiight," said Ron slowly.

"Where's the map, Harry?"

"Here," he pulled it out and scanned it. A plethora of names he didn't recognize littered the parchment. The few he knew jumped out at him. "They're in the Great Hall. At the Gryffindor table." His heart skipped a few beats.

"Shhhh!" But it wasn't Hermione. It was Madam Pince, who glared accusingly at the two students sitting on the other side of Harry. They both shrugged, confused.

"We didn't say-"

"Shhhh!"

Harry grabbed Hermione and Ron's wrists and led them out of the Library. They made their way to the Great Hall, dodging students on their way. Glancing at each of them in turn he felt vaguely like he'd walked into an old movie. As odd as it sounded even in his own head, he couldn't shake the feeling that everything was in… Technicolor? He kept these suspicions to himself.

Harry heard the all-to-familiar roar of chattering students from the Great Hall as they approached. He stopped walking. The enormity of what was about to happen was finally truly hitting him. His heart felt strangely cold in his chest; he forgot to breath.

"All right, Harry?" asked Ron, concerned.

"I'm fine," he tried to say, but couldn't. It came out in a sort of croak. He nodded slowly.

Hermione startled them both by pulling them aside. Mary Sue passed by, and would have run into them if Hermione hadn't been paying attention. She looped an arm around Harry's and, to his surprise, Ron took his other arm.

Together, under the safety of the invisibility cloak, they walked into the Great Hall.

____

 

To be Continued.

//
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