From Beyond The Veil
It was nighttime, at least Harry assumed it was nighttime, Grimmauld Place was certainly quiet enough for it to be so, but that was just it, he could have sworn the Christmas holidays had ended and he had returned to Hogwarts, but here he was. Sitting on the edge of his bed with nothing but the pressing quiet surrounding him, he could not even hear Buckbeak moving about upstairs; the house was completely still.
And then something caught his eye.
Someone, or something, had moved silently past his doorway but he was not quick enough to see what it was. Breathing deeply from the shock, Harry moved cautiously to his door and peered tentatively out into the hallway. He was just in time to see the back of a head disappear down the stairs, and even though he could not see a face there was no mistaking those dark, tousled locks.
It was Sirius again.
Harry instinctively called out to Sirius but his voice simply echoed around the hallway, garnering no response. Flinging his door aside, Harry started down the stairs after his late godfather, missing steps as he hurtled along after Sirius. Harry was quite sure there were not this many stairs in Grimmauld Place and no matter how fast he ran he only ever seemed to catch mere glimpses of Sirius turning a corner or disappearing down another flight. Continuing to call after him, Harry pursued Sirius for what seemed like an eternity until finally he came to the last set of stairs and was left standing breathless in the main hallway. Ordinarily, the kind of noise Harry was making would have roused Mrs. Black from her slumber and set her off on another tirade about blood traitors but the only sound that Harry could hear was the blood rushing in his ears and the deep, ragged breaths he was drawing. This was of little consequence to him though, as Sirius had gone. Harry turned to call out again but noticed that the kitchen door was slightly ajar, which was odd because Mrs. Weasley always closed it at night. Venturing forward, Harry pushed the door to the kitchen open slightly and stepped inside.
Sirius was here.
Standing in front of the large table that occupied most of the floor space, Sirius looked upon Harry was sad eyes and a smile. Harry could feel the tears welling up behind his eyes and his throat constricting, but Sirius said nothing. Around the table, other members of the Order were seated; Dumbledore, Snape, Professor Weatherwax, but none of them looked up when either Sirius or Harry entered the room. Instead they sat in complete silence, totally oblivious to the world around them and Harry was about to try and talk but Sirius’ gaze left his godson and he walked slowly around the table, passing each of the seated Order members in turn before coming to rest behind Professor Weatherwax. Gently, Sirius laid a hand on her shoulder and once again smiled at Harry, but Professor Weatherwax now too turned her gaze on to Harry, and that was when Harry became aware of the noise. It grew out of the silence, steadily getting louder until Harry realised that it was his name he could hear.
It sounded like…
Harry blinked open his eyes to see Professor Dumbledore leaning over him, his bright blue eyes steeped in concern. Harry looked around to find himself in his bed at Hogwarts; Ron, Neville, Seamus and Dean were all standing around the bed looking worried and tired.
‘Wha…’ was all that Harry managed to get out.
‘Get dressed Harry,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I must see you in my office at once.’
* * *
After explaining briefly to his roommates what had happened in his dream, Harry made his way as quickly as he could to Dumbledore’s office.
‘Come in Harry,’ said Dumbledore from the other side of the door before Harry even had chance to knock. Stepping inside, Harry saw that Professor Weatherwax was sitting just to the side of Dumbledore’s desk and both she and the Headmaster watched him as he crossed the room and took a seat.
‘I am sorry for bringing you up here so early on a Saturday,’ said Dumbledore. ‘But there are things that we need to discuss, particularly that dream you were having.’
‘How did you know about that?’ asked Harry.
‘Well you were making an awful lot of noise,’ said Dumbledore with a slight smile. ‘Mister Filch says he could hear you all the way out in the corridor, he was less than pleased.’
‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ said Harry embarrassedly.
‘Not to worry, but I do feel that your dream is important. You saw Sirius again, didn’t you?’ Harry was about to ask how the Headmaster could have known about that but he realised that he had been calling out Sirius’ name in his dream so he guessed it was no surprise as to who he had been dreaming about. Instead he nodded mutely.
‘And what happened this time?’
‘I was back at Grimmauld Place,’ began Harry uncertainly. ‘It was all quiet and then I saw something pass my door, Sirius. I called after him but he didn’t answer so I followed him down to the kitchen. And you were there Headmaster, and you Professor Weatherwax, and Professor Snape, but none of you seemed to notice us.’
‘Go on,’ said Dumbledore.
‘Sirius was just standing there, looking at me, but then he walked around the table and stood behind Professor Weatherwax.’
‘Did anything else happen?’
‘Yes, just before I woke up Sirius put his hand on Professor Weatherwax’s shoulder and you looked up at me, and that’s when I woke up.’
‘I see,’ said Dumbledore, clearly turning it all over in his mind.
‘Professor, what does it mean?’ asked Harry.
‘Sirius Black was a good man,’ said Dumbledore solemnly. ‘I never wanted to believe the charges that sent him to Azkaban but he was strong enough to survive that hellish place, and it seems part of him was strong enough to even survive death.’
‘But why couldn’t he come back as a ghost?’ asked Harry, remembering the disappointment he felt when this didn’t happen right after Sirius’ death.
‘Not everyone can,’ said Dumbledore. ‘And there are no reported cases of people who were unfortunate enough to fall through the veil ever being seen or heard of again, until now.’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Harry.
‘I know Sirius, if he could have come back as a ghost he would have but that door was apparently not open to him, so he found another way.’
‘In my dreams?’ Dumbledore simply nodded.
‘But what does he want?’
‘Why, to see you of course,’ smiled Dumbledore. ‘And to help. He loved you dearly Harry and that love, coupled with the strength he no doubt possessed, must have forged enough of a link with you that he, or at least part of him, could return.’
‘But he never talks!’
‘Perhaps he is unable,’ said Dumbledore more seriously. ‘Perhaps it takes all the strength he has just to appear to you, maybe that is why you do not see him all the time, he may have to store up strength for his, shall we say, visits.’ Harry looked at his hands for a moment and the silence hung in the air like a velvet cloth. Eventually Harry spoke.
‘I miss him.’
‘We all do,’ said Dumbledore reassuringly. ‘I know this must be hard for you Harry, to be able to see but not talk to Sirius must cause you great pain but it is my firm belief that he is revealing himself to you in order to aid in your fight against Lord Voldemort.’ At the mention of The Dark Lord Harry heard Professor Weatherwax tut to herself and mutter something that he could not quite make out.
‘That, I am afraid Harry, is the good news.’
‘I am afraid so, it may not be much comfort for you to be able to occasionally see Sirius in your dreams but never talk to him but it seems clear to me that he is indeed pointing you in a certain direction.’
‘Mine,’ said Professor Weatherwax.
‘Yes Harry,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I believe Sirius was prophesising the vital role that Professor Weatherwax will play in our struggle against Voldemort, but this leads me on to the bad news.’
‘What is it?’
‘After his unexpected visit at the Halloween Ball I realised, with no small amount of displeasure, that Lord Voldemort has also forged a strong link with you.’
‘But didn’t we already know that?’
‘Yes, but I was not aware of the extent of this connection, and I do not believe that Voldemort was either, not until recently anyway.’
‘So what does this mean?’ asked Harry, who did not like where the conversation was heading.
‘It means,’ said Dumbledore grimly. ‘That Lord Voldemort has the power to enter Hogwarts when I thought we had enough magical securities in place to keep him at bay. I regret to say that I was wrong.’ There was something Harry definitely did not like about the idea of Professor Dumbledore being wrong.
‘So we’re helpless against him?’ asked Harry, who could feel the panic rising inside of him.
‘In a pig’s eye we are!’ snorted Professor Weatherwax.
‘Not at all Harry,’ said Dumbledore. ‘We still have the means to fight him, and with Professor Weatherwax I feel confident that we have a certain advantage, but what this does mean is that Voldemort can, and very likely, bring the battle to us here at Hogwarts.’ Harry opened and closed his mouth a couple of times as he thought of all the students that attended Hogwarts, all of the students and their families. Voldemort would simply love the opportunity to cause the kind of mayhem he could cause inside Hogwarts.
‘We can’t let him,’ said Harry finally.
‘Damn right we can’t,’ said Professor Weatherwax.
‘Perhaps I should explain why our dear Professor Weatherwax has been so vocal on the subject of Lord Voldemort,’ began Dumbledore.
‘Don’t call him that Albus,’ said Professor Weatherwax disdainfully. ‘No matter how you dress him up he’s still little Tommy Riddle, always will be.’
‘You know him?’ asked Harry.
‘’Course I do, knew him when he was just a lad…before he came to Hogwarts,’ said Professor Weatherwax when she saw Harry was about to ask a question.
‘Why didn’t you say anything before? You knew we were fighting him.’
‘I did not,’ protested Professor Weatherwax. ‘I knew you were fighting some bloke calling himself Lord Voldymort or something silly, but I didn’t know he was Tommy Riddle.’
‘But how do you know him?’
‘I used to catch him scrumpin’ apples back in Lancre. Nasty little piece of work he was, which was a shame ‘cos his Mum and Dad were nice, hard working folk. Must’ve broke their poor hearts when he turned proper evil.’
‘Proper evil?’ asked Harry.
‘People like Tommy Riddle don’t just decide one day to be evil, at least not as evil as him, they’re born like it. It just depends on whether you decide to go professional with it.’
‘So what can you do?’ asked Harry, still unconvinced that the Order was prepared enough for a direct battle with The Dark Lord, but the look that Professor Weatherwax gave him said that she could show him but chances are he would not like it one bit.
‘Regardless of the actual methods,’ cut in Dumbledore. ‘I have every confidence in Esmerelda’s abilities but that is no reason to let our guard down. While it is true that our defences may not keep Vol…Tom Riddle out of Hogwarts, we have enough set up that we will know when he is near.’
‘Right Albus, if you’re done with me, I’d like to get ready for my next class,’ said Professor Weatherwax, standing up.
‘Of course Esmerelda, of course,’ said Dumbledore, smiling. ‘Now Harry,’ he said after Professor Weatherwax had left the room. ‘As for my role, I have to say I am impressed with the progress you have been making with your Occlumency studies but I would like to test you if I may, right now.’
‘Because you have not had time to prepare, and that is almost certainly the situation you will find yourself in when facing The Dark Lord.’
‘But I promised Ron and Hermione that I would meet them for breakfast.’
‘I think,’ smiled Dumbledore warmly. ‘That Mister Weasley and Miss Granger have more pressing matters on hand at the moment.’
* * *
Wrapped up against the cold, Ron and Hermione were walking together through the snow around the edge of the lake, which had been charmed not to freeze over on account of the giant squid. Ron was concerned for his best friend but if he was honest with himself he was glad for the opportunity to be able to spend some time with Hermione alone.
‘I’m worried about Harry,’ said Hermione, her breath fogging in the crisp winter air.
‘Hmm, me too,’ said Ron quietly.
‘Are you alright Ron? You’ve been acting really funny lately, is there anything the matter?’
Look how red her cheeks get in the cold, thought Ron. God she’s beautiful. Say something you idiot!
‘No, I’m fine.’
‘Okay, but you would tell me if something was bothering you?’
‘Yeah, ‘course.’ Silence set in again as they doubled back on themselves to avoid The Whomping Willow but inside Ron’s inner voice was screaming at him.
Talk to her you fool!
Compliment her hair, her eyes, anything!
‘Er Hermione, I love…what you’ve done…err…with your eyes today.’ Somewhere inside Ron his inner voice kicked itself.
‘Er thank you Ron,’ said Hermione. ‘That was very sweet of you.’ They continued on for a few paces before Hermione somehow lost her footing and fell slightly to the side, bumping into Ron.
‘Are you alright?’ he asked, as he helped her to his feet.
‘Yes, thank you,’ said Hermione, but as they continued to walk she did not take her hand out from the crook of Ron’s elbow. Swallowing hard, Ron could feel the heat rising in his face and he knew that his ears must be turning pink and heading straight for red. Once again, Ron’s inner voice could not contain itself.
Are you blind? She did that on purpose!
She likes you, go for it!
Stopping in his tracks, Ron turned to face Hermione, causing her hand to slip out from his arm.
‘What is it Ron?’
‘I just wanted to…I mean I…You…We…’ Words completely failed him and his inner voice was being no help at all, it had apparently given up on him and shut up shop for the day, but when Hermione took his hands in hers and smiled Ron thought he was going to die.
‘It’s alright Ron, I know.’
‘…You do? How? I mean…’ Hermione giggled slightly before continuing.
‘Ron, I’m a girl, we just know these things.’ Ron felt like he was trying to swallow a cauldron sideways and his legs felt as if they would give out on him at any moment.
‘Why didn’t you say anything?’ he managed, finally.
‘Because it was so sweet watching you try so hard,’ smiled Hermione, giving his hands an affectionate squeeze.
‘I…I don’t know what to say,’ stammered Ron.
‘Obviously,’ said Hermione, as she leaned in to kiss him. However, just as their lips were about to touch a snapping twig sent Hermione swivelling on her heel. She managed to catch a glimpse of a small hooded figure stooped beside a tree before it darted back into the Forbidden Forest.
‘What was that?’ asked Ron.
‘I don’t know,’ said Hermione. ‘But we should tell Dumbledore right now.’
‘Not yet,’ said Ron, pulling Hermione back as she went to run off in the direction of the castle. Almost tripping on her own feet, Hermione stumbled into Ron and before she knew what was happening he had her face in his hands and was kissing her. She melted into him and slid her arms around his neck for what seemed like an entire lifetime, but the immediate danger of the anonymous hooded figure quickly came back and she reluctantly pulled away.
‘Come on,’ she said, breathing heavily. ‘We need to tell Dumbledore.’ As she started towards the castle both Ron and his inner voice exclaimed a mighty ‘Yes!’
* * *
Approaching his mater’s chamber nervously, the hooded figure fretted endlessly about what awaited him. He had been seen and he knew his master would know, he always did and secrecy had been a top priority. He stopped at the correct door and was about to knock when a thin, raspy voice stopped him cold.
‘Get in here!’ The hooded figure opened the door and scurried dutifully over to his master’s chair, where he immediately stooped himself in deference.
‘You were seen!’ said Lord Voldemort.
‘My humblest apologies master, I…’
‘Silence! Do not waste your pitiful breath apologising, it sickens me.’
‘They will run to their precious Dumbledore, the old fool, and he will know I sent you.’
‘It was a dreadful mistake my lord,’ grovelled the figure.
‘Evidently, and one I am sure you are anxious to make amends for.’
‘Oh entirely master, entirely.’
‘Good.’ With a casual wave of his thin, bony hand, the hooded figure was instantly engulfed in crippling, agonising pain, his anguished screams echoing throughout the room, reverberating off the walls, floor and ceiling.
‘They will be expecting me soon,’ said Voldemort to himself. ‘I would hate to disappoint them.’
- June 2005