I stood there for a moment in the middle of Dumbledore's office, still terrified of what had just happened. I felt very nauseous, but swallowed hard, not wanting to vomit all over Dumbledore's spotless floor at the thought of being face to face with The Dark Lord himself. Dumbledore paced around the room, a frantic look in his eyes. He was trying to wrap his mind around the situation just as I was.
"Sir," I said very mildly, still shaking and glued to one spot. He shot a look at me. "Thank you for saving me." Dumbledore's craze seemed to lessen and his rigidness softened as he glided over to me. He wrapped his long, aged fingers around my arm gently and half-smiled.
"That must have been a horrifying experience for you, Marilyn," he said. His touch calmed me, as I was reminded of the comforting that I used to get from my grandmother. Tears began to well up in my eyes. I tried to pull them back, so not to look weak in front of this man. "You were very brave tonight, braver than most would have been in your position." I quickly wiped a falling tear from my cheek. "But I must ask you," Dumbledore said, his tone much more serious and firm, "did you let him see anything? Anything that could give him an advantage?" I shook my head, remembering the things that I had unwillingly divulged to Voldemort.
"I did not show him much that mattered. I kept him from seeing Harry Potter." Dumbledore's eyes widened.
"Harry Potter?" He said curiously. I opened my mouth to explain when he held up a hand to silence me. He strolled around his desk and then extended a hand to stroke Fawkes's feathered head. "Lord Voldemort is a very gifted Legilimens. Learning Occlumency would benefit you greatly, although, it sounds to me that your sheer will sufficed in stopping him tonight." Fawkes cooed as Dumbledore ran his hand over his back. "I want you to go have some dinner and see your friends. They are all very worried," he said. "However, I want you to come back after you're settled. It is apparent that now is as good a time as any for us to talk about your knowledge." He then kindly shooed me away and I hurriedly left his office and nearly stumbled down the spiraling staircase.
The entire way to the Great Hall, I could not help glancing over my shoulder constantly, making sure nobody was hiding around corners or behind statues. I was not about to get snatched away again. The corridors were completely empty, as everyone, including the ghosts, was probably still enjoying their first evening of the New Year, safe at Hogwarts. When I entered the Great Hall, there were a lot of hushed murmurs filling the room, scared and curious mumbles about what had happened earlier on the train. I saw Sirius, James and Remus at the far end of the table. Sirius's face was drained of color as he cradled his head in his hands. I noticed that James had a small, black ball of fuzz cupped in his palms. I hurried over to them and grabbed Sirius in a hug as I sat down. He wrapped his arms around me and sighed so heavily, it sounded almost like a sob. He breathed deeply in my ear as he squeezed me tighter.
"I was so scared. I had no idea what happened. I didn't know if I'd ever," he stopped speaking abruptly, as if his throat was closing around his words, and he was trying to stifle a cry. I rubbed my hand soothingly on his back.
"It's okay, sweetheart," I said gently. "I'm here. I'm safe." His embrace loosened as he released me. His eyes were red and he was shaking with worry. I took his hands in mine and kissed them gently, trying to calm him. He smiled at me and brushed my hair to the side. James and Remus waited patiently for their turns to speak.
"So what did I miss?" I said, trying to sound lighthearted so not to weight down the evening meal with the heaviness of me being kidnapped. James and Remus looked at each other, wondering whether or not the train ride was a safe topic to discuss. "What happened on the train?" I said, a little more forcefully.
"Well, I was on prefect duty when it happened. I didn't see much. There were a few people in black hoods who were walking down the hall, looking into compartments. But then one of them hexed me and knocked me out," Remus said as he pushed his food around his plate with a fork. "Once someone had revived me, there were people scurrying around and smoke was everywhere. Nobody knew what was going on."
"Then once it got out that they had taken you," James began, "the news spread like wildfire." He scanned his eyes around the whole room and I noticed that everyone in the Great Hall was staring and whispering to each other, no doubt conversing about what the reason was for my abduction. "I know it doesn't seem like it now with everybody cowering and such, but everyone was genuinely concerned for you. This whole war is getting more and more dangerous. You-Know-Who's operations are no longer underground. It's all happening right before our eyes. " They all looked down, as if by mentioning it they would all be struck down.
"It's only going to get worse," I said as I was still looking around the room at all the people gawking at me. I knew it was not to be rude. They were all just scared. We had been spending the last five and half years sitting in a class room, learning how to make things float in the air and change animals into water goblets. Everything we learned to 'protect ourselves' we practiced in a hypothetical setting. Nothing was going to actually harm us inside the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom. But what was going on outside the stone walls of the castle was real, and nothing would have been able to prepare any of us for what was lurking out there, ready to attack any minute. I realized that truth my fourth year, after seeing the lifeless body of Cedric Diggory, but these students had not yet had that realization.
After having a bit to eat and a mostly silent evening, I gave Sirius a kiss and stood up from the table. He grabbed my hand quickly.
"I have to go see Dumbledore," I said, knowing that he would not accept any excuse for me leaving. "It's very important." Sirius squeezed my hand.
"Then I'll walk you." He stood up, nodded to Remus and James and we hurried out of the Great Hall and toward the Headmaster's office.
"Zephyros and Snape were the ones who took me," I said quite harshly, trying to break the thick silence in the air. Sirius took a sharp breath.
"I was wondering how those Death Eaters got on the train. I've always known those two were bad news." He paused for a moment. "They didn't hurt you, did they?" I shook my head.
"Zephyros wanted to," I said with a scoff. "But no, they weren't the ones who hurt me." Sirius looked concerned. "It was Voldemort." Suddenly his face which showed fury and hatred suddenly changed to that of panic and distress. He swallowed hard as I felt his hand become sweaty.
"This must be really serious," he said slowly, trying to conceive the entirety of the current situation. We reached the gargoyle that hid the spiral staircase.
"It is serious. That is why I'm helping Dumbledore, so that more things like this don't happen. It will be okay. Pepper imp," I said, and the gargoyle began to move aside, revealing the staircase leading up to Dumbledore's office.
"I'll wait for you," Sirius said with a stern look, and I headed up the staircase.
"Ah, Miss Horsefeather," Dumbledore said as if my arrival had been a surprise. He waved his wand and conjured a fluffy red arm chair in front of his desk. "Please sit." I sank down into the chair as it nearly swallowed me. The portraits on the wall were all snoring loudly and mumbling in their frames, pretending to be asleep. "Before we begin, I would like to discuss how Lord Voldemort discovered your secret. Who have you told about this?" I began to rack my brain. I had only told three people personally.
"I've told Sirius and James, and Remus knows too," I said as I gazed at Dumbledore, his expression hard in concentration.
"The most trustworthy of people, if I say so myself. Are you sure there was nobody else?" I tried to go through every hour since my arrival in this new time. I had hardly made any friends besides those three. "What about that other boy that hangs out with them. Peter Pettigrew?" My eyes got wide as I remembered the night in the Shrieking Shack. Sirius had let it slip to him that I was from the future. It had made no difference to me then, but it made all the difference in the world now.
"He knows too. It was him. It had to be." My heart started pounding. I had never been very close to Peter, but I considered him my friend, nonetheless. I had never imagined someone as meek and quiet as he was to betray someone so terribly, to nearly have someone killed at the hands of the darkest wizard of all time. Dumbledore pursed his lips as he sat back in his chair.
"That would explain why he did not return to the castle," he said as he laced his fingers together. "No doubt they kept him as insurance, in case he was wrong. But, I suppose, he is theirs now." He paused for a moment, the sound of Fawkes cooing as he napped with his head under his wing. "Well, on to the next thing then," he said, and gestured me to begin talking.
"Where do I begin, sir?" I questioned. There were so many things that were going to happen in the next twenty years that I couldn't decide which held precedent.
"I suggest you start at the beginning. What will Voldemort do tomorrow?"
I told him everything I could remember about You-Know-Who's first rise to power: all the countless invasions of the Ministry, the mass muggle killings all over Britain, the recruitment of Death Eaters and giants and trolls. I had made an Outstanding in my History of Magic O.W.L. and this was the one time I was most grateful for reading the textbook so thoroughly. I remembered names of Death Eaters and dates and places of all the events and Dumbledore wrote them down. With any luck, those pages from my history book I was reciting would not have to be written. After what seemed like hours, my eyes were becoming heavy with sleep, and even Dumbledore stifled a yawn.
"I think we have enough for tonight. I will notify the right people and hopefully we will be able to stop these things from happening. You may go, Miss Horsefeather." I stood up, having a bit of difficulty because I was sunk so low in the cushion of the chair, but before I headed out, I made to ask Dumbledore one last question before retiring.
"How did you find me tonight, Professor?" I asked curiously, wondering how he had come to my aid so quickly. He gave me a half smile.
"Your friend James cast a Patronus," he said as he stood up and stretched his arms. "They are not only useful in getting rid of dementors. They can also be used to relay messages. I was here in my office when a giant glowing stag appeared in front of me, and told me you had been taken from the train. From a previous source, I knew your probable location and traveled their immediately. Had it not been for him, I fear the outcome of that situation would have been much worse."
Sirius was lying on the floor at the bottom of the staircase, his eyes resting shut. He jumped up as soon as the staircase began to move. We hurried back to Gryffindor tower and crawled through the portrait hole. James and Remus were sitting by the fire, awaiting our return. Without letting them get a word out, I wrapped my arms around James's neck. "You saved me," I said softly. "You're an extraordinary wizard, James Potter." We sat by the fire for a while, relaxing in each other's company, until one by one, we grew quiet and tired and we headed up to our warm beds seeking a much needed slumber.