Harry opened his eyes to a depressingly familiar scene – the blurry hospital wing, with someone breathing quietly and regularly beside his bed. He sat up and let out a soft cry of pain, clutching at his midsection.
“Harry!” The Headmaster, who had been sitting next to him, had awoken. He was now looking worriedly at Harry, who was clutching at his side.
“I’m fine, sir,” Harry said, wincing. “Just a cracked rib, I think. I’ve had them before.”
Dumbledore’s eyes burned with a cold rage for a moment before it was buried beneath his normal calm demeanor and faint smile. “I think that Madam Pomphrey will have to give you a full medical examination,” he said brightly. “Or perhaps a professional Healer from St. Mungo’s.”
“Would that interfere with preparing for the exams, sir?” Harry asked.
Dumbledore cocked his head to the side for a moment. “It might,” he conceded. “Alright, over the summer, then. But you’ll have to sleep in here for the rest of the school year. You were very badly injured, Harry.”
There was silence for a few minutes, then Harry asked, “What exactly happened, sir? I thought I heard him cast the Killing curse, but I’m not dead, right?”
The headmaster shook his head. “You are not dead, Harry, but to answer that question we have to go back to the night Voldemort came for you. You see, when he killed your mother, it seems to have formed a very powerful sort of protection upon you – only against him, but he was unable to harm you. Perhaps she had cast some powerful blood ritual to protect you from her killer, because it seems to have been attached to her bloodline- that is why I took you to the Dursleys, to keep it alive.
“That protection seems to have survived thus far, but I doubt it will for much longer if you must stay with them. Their hatred for will only grow as you learn more of your heritage. But it served you well when you met with Voldemort again, last week.”
“Last week?” Harry asked. “I’ve been unconscious for a whole week?”
“Yes, Harry, you have,” Dumbledore said. “Your friends have been here nearly every day, too. I had to order them to return to class. But let us return to the tale. Had the Dursleys treated you as they should, Voldemort, even shielded by the body of poor Alan Adams, could not have even entered your presence. But thanks to them, your protection was weak, and could barely reach beyond your flesh. The touch of your flesh upon him damaged him dearly and deeply, burning him, as I’m sure you saw. But it didn’t merely damage Voldemort’s body, it damaged what remained of his soul.
“When you seared his flesh so deeply, it seems that you damaged his capacity to use magic. While he still has the same level of power, he couldn’t shape it. When he attempted to cast the Killing curse, it came out as nothing more than a burst of random, uncontrolled magic, which flung you away. He was able to take advantage of this momentary lull and escape using a Portkey, which as you may or may not know can depart through anti-disapparation fields.”
“But how can he still be alive?” Harry asked, remembering Voldemort’s state before his had disappeared. “I could see his skull!” he exclaimed, somewhat hysterically. “And how did he survive the first time, too!”
Dumbledore sighed heavily. “I cannot explain how he survived his first death, but I know how he lived through this. He was not in his own body, but rather possessing that of poor Alan. I fear that he will remain in Alan’s body until he can reacquire a body with the capacity for magic.”
“How long will that take?” Harry demanded. “And how did he get into Adams, anyway? I heard Professor Snape say that he had fought off possession before.”
“I don’t know how long it will take – I’ve never made a study of resurrection rituals,” said Dumbledore. “I’ll have to confer with a friend of mine who works in the Department of Mysteries on that one. But I have discovered what happened to Alan. When I first approached him to ask about teaching Defense for a year, he demurred – shortly after that he was attacked by a swarm of Dementors. Remus told you that Dementors are declared Dark by the American Ministry, yes?” Harry nodded, and the headmaster continued, “whenever they enter America, they are to be driven off by an Auror team. This particular swarm, it seems, was accompanied by a dark cloud which seemed to lead them. Alan was apparently Kissed, but managed to fight off the Dementors, which dispersed. What became of the dark cloud was never discovered, but I think we now know.”
“Voldemort was the cloud,” Harry guessed, “and he was able to possess Adams because there was no soul to drive him off.”
Dumbledore nodded in agreement. “So it seems. When a person is Kissed, though, their memories remain, and can be read by a competent legilimens, and, of course, Voldemort is more than competent. He used those memories to perfectly impersonate Alan, and contacted me to say that the Dementor attack had changed his mind, and he wanted to take a break from Auror work.”
Harry yawned. “What about the Draughts? What happened to them?”
“Nicholas has contacted me to say that I should keep them, but release a private statement to those few that know some remain, saying that they were destroyed during a theft attempt. He himself is going into hiding, in case Voldemort decides to go after the source. But now, Harry, I think you should return to your rest. You’ll be fine in time for your exams, I think, and…”
Before the aged Headmaster could finish, though, Harry was already lying back and dozing. Dumbledore smiled a little before rising to tell Madam Pomphrey that Harry had woken.
Over the next few weeks, Harry managed to get caught up on his schoolwork, with Hermione’s help. But after what he had been through, he was unable to muster any nervousness or excitement for the approaching first-year exams, especially after Fred and George told him that they rarely tested anything taught after Easter. “No one ever fails the exams,” one of them had said. “It’s the OWLs and NEWTs you have to watch out for.” Hermione, of course, was going frantic anyway, despite all attempts to calm her.
But surprisingly, Harry’s friends weren’t the only people who visited him. Professor Flitwick stopped by to show him the charm they were learning in the last week before exams (the umbrella charm) and to absolutely forbid him from doing anything that foolish ever again. “Gryffindor means brave, not stupid,” squeaked the diminutive professor.
Professor Snape stopped in too, supposedly to deliver more medicinal potions to Madam Pomphrey, but he ended up staying for several minutes to tell Harry about the principle of brewing that was the subject of the next week. Harry didn’t understand it very well, but the professor promised to show him over the summer, so that was okay.
Draco stopped in with a swollen hand, and told Harry that Professor Adams had been killed in a tragic accident while attempting to invent a shield which would reflect incoming spells rather than absorb them. Harry was quite surprised by this, but supposed that it wouldn’t have been a good idea to tell the world what had really happened. Most of his friends, of course, had already known. Harry quickly filled in Draco on the truth.
“Well,” Draco said, “That might explain my bad news. My father plans to take a greater interest in the school next year, and I feel certain that he wouldn’t approve of us associating. You’re known to be a friend to mu… ggleborns, and he wouldn’t want me to be friends with you. As it is, we can pretend that we’re just cordial Potions partners. Fair?”
Harry shrugged. “He’s your dad. Sure, we can pretend not to be as friendly.”
Draco smiled. “He’ll be coming to see me onto the Hogwarts Express, and my mother will pick me up, so make sure not to be too familiar,” he warned, and left shortly after.
The day before exams, Harry was released from the hospital wing, under the condition that he return each night. He wished he could return to Gryffindor Tower, but at least he would be staying there all summer.
Exams went as expected. After waiting for the two weeks it took for OWL and NEWT students to take their exams, Harry got his scores back in a cloud of owls, one for every student in the Great Hall. A few owls, apparently waiting for student no in the Hall yet, swirled around the ceiling confusedly.
“Oh, I hope I did well,” Hermione fretted, her untouched plate of food sitting forgotten in front of her as she stared up, waiting for her own owls. She and Ginny had joined the Gryffindors as usual.
“Mmph mmph mmph mmph, mmph mmph,” said Ron, already on his third plate.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Ginny said absentmindedly, doing her best to eat, but only doing slightly better than Hermione. Her bowl of oatmeal was only half empty.
Ron swallowed and repeated himself, saying, “First in our year, I’m sure.” Hermione didn’t look very reassured, though.
“Look, here come Gryffindor’s owls!” Neville cried, pointing as a cloud of owls peeled off from the main group and dived towards their table. Harry spotted the gleaming golden-silver of Tantalus among them, eyes fixed on Harry’s own.
They all raised their arms to catch the envelopes which plummeted towards them, then, with a mighty shriek, the owls turned in unison and flew back out of the Hall. Another group broke away from the main flock and began descending towards the Ravenclaw table. Two of them split off to deliver to Hermione and Ginny, who snatched their letters as though they were starving, and could only eat paper.
Harry tore open his envelope with a clean butter knife, wondering how he did. The whole world of school still seemed far away from him, after the battle with Adams. Ron had just declared that he wasn’t going to look at his letter until he was finished with his plate, but Ginny, Hermione, and Neville were all opening theirs.
Harrison James Potter, your scores for the
1991–1992 school year are:
– Astronomy – A
– Charms – E
– Defense – O
– Herbology – E
– History – A
– Potions – O
– Transfiguration – E
Your overall average is E. Your placing within your House and year is first. The top seven for your year are:
1. Hermione Granger – O
2. Padma Patil – O
3. Terence Boot – O/E
4. Blaise Zabini – O/E
Potter – E
6. Drakael Malfoy – E
7. Ginevra Weasley – E
Please expect your book list for the 1992–1993 school year on or around August 4th.
Professor Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress
– Professor Filius Flitwick, Head of Griffindor House
Harry smiled, and nudged Ron. “How’d you do?”
“An E average,” Ron said with a shrug. “I’m not in the top seven, but at least I’m above what the Ministry says is average – that’s an E/A. I wonder who was on it.”
Harry peered at Ron’s scores. The top seven wasn’t listed there. “I guess it’s only listed for the people on it,” he said, showing Ron his letter.
“Hey, you made number five!” he exclaimed, taking it. “And Hermione, I told you you’d get the top.”
“I managed to nudge my way in too,” Ginny said with a wide smile, showing Neville her scores. “Mum’ll be pleased. I didn’t think I’d make it.”
Ron grinned. “I knew you would. You got all the brains, after all. I had to take the good looks.”
A few days later, after attending the graduation of the 7th years, Harry wished his friends well as they boarded the Hogwarts Express to return to London and Platform 9¾. He hugged Ginny and Hermione, clapped hands with Ron and Neville, and exchanged a curt nod with Draco under the watchful eye of the elder Malfoy. As the Hogwarts Express chugged away, Harry pondered where he would have been if not for Hogwarts. Probably locked in the cupboard already, either blamed for something he didn’t do by Dudley or because of accidental magic. Instead, he had free rein of an enormous magical castle, and would be allowed to cast magic over the summer – under the supervision of the live-in professors, true, but it was more than Ron could say. Harry smiled. The summer awaited.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Joshua WestWrite a Review