Returning to Hogwarts for the new year was harder than Harry had thought it would be. He had enjoyed his time at the Weasley's and he almost didn't want to leave the Burrow. It was only the thought of seeing Sol, Mystica, and Celestica again that had him on the train and back in the castle with little protest. It was worth it when he was greeted enthusiastically by the small family of four the very next day when he went down to Hagrid's.
Classes resumed as normal and Colin remained petrified in the Hospital Wing, still awaiting the mandrakes to be ready to make the potion that would unpetrify him. Harry had to wonder what his family thought of his condition, being muggles, and couldn't help but feel sorry for them. To think that this happened in their son's first year must have them worried and anxious as they waited for him to be back to normal. Harry also felt back for all the school work that Colin was going to be forced to make up.
Other than that, the days came and went, passing quickly as nothing new or terrible happened. Valentines day had Harry hiding from the little naked cupid men that were following him around, reciting both good and bad poetry, with Gabriel cackling madly in his head as he looked at them. 'Well,' Gabriel had said while still laughing. 'He's not that far off except for the whole poetry thing.'
Harry still didn't know what he meant by that and was just grateful when the day ended and the pink that was covering the school disappeared.
It was near the end of February that it happened.
Harry had left the diary under his mattress, unable to dispose of it or bring himself to touch the filthy thing again, occasionally talking over what it had showed him about Hagrid with Ron and Hermione. He was heading back up to the dorm before heading to dinner only to be met with a nervous Neville waiting at the second year dorm entrance. Neville took one look at him and began trying to babble an explanation. "I just found it like that," the nervous second year said, round face shining with nervous worry.
Harry had no idea what he was talking about until he opened the door of the room and saw the chaos that awaited him. His mattress was on the floor, the contents of his truck joining it, and clothing was thrown around in a half-hearted way. It was only Harry's stuff that had been searched, the rest of the room still in the condition that it had been in that morning.
The most alarming part of the whole thing was that the dairy, which Harry had left under his mattress since the first night that he had it, was gone and there was no trace of where it might be. Harry didn't even feel bad with startling Neville as he, and Gabriel inside their minds, cursed.
It didn't take long for the attacks to start up again. Justin Finch-Fletchley was found petrified behind the ghostly body of Nearly Headless Nick, who was also seemingly petrified as well which sent the school into a nervous panic.
After all, what could harm a ghost? They were already dead!
Suddenly, the whole school was on red alert, everyone looking around corners and never going anywhere in the castle alone. Ginny Weasley, who had looked to be getting less pale and more open than she was when she'd first arrived at Hogwarts, also seemed to curl in on herself and became more and more reclusive as the days after the newest attack passed.
She wasn't the only one negatively affected by the attack as Hufflepuff was suddenly just as moody and depressed as Gryffindor now that one of their own had been attacked. Harry couldn't really feel sorry for them as none of them had reacted beyond acknowledgement when Colin had been petrified and Mrs. Norris had fallen victim to the monsters odd appearances.
'Our past life read too many comics,' Gabriel complained. 'You're becoming dramatic.'
Harry had finally managed to get to his fourth past life in his dreams, having lived to be ninety years old in his third life and it had taken months rather than weeks to reabsorb the memories. It was strange, Harry mused as he watched everyone around him, how much older those memories made him feel and how childish he felt sometimes. It was almost as if he was becoming uncomfortable in his own skin, something that he had never been before.
'Just think of how I feel,' Gabriel said, not even having to bother looking at his human self's thoughts to know what he was thinking. 'I'm actually memories trapped in the mind of myself because we died and were reborn hundreds of times!'
That was strange, Harry acknowledged with a hidden grimace. Even with the increased knowledge his newer memories gave him, Harry's head still hurt when he remembered that the original version of him died and because of it, they were reborn hundreds of times until he regained all his memories by touching a tree, of all things, and now those memories had been given form and could interact with him as he slowly regained the newer memories that it had been storing. 'What is our life?' Harry groaned as his head gave an unappreciative throb at his thought process. 'Not only do we have to deal with this but in all of the memories I've regained, we die fighting something. Why was a ninety year old man fighting a burglar anyways? Were we just stupid?'
'No, we knew that we would die doing that,' Gabriel reminded him. 'Self-preservation apparently goes right out the window the older we get, though.'
Harry couldn't really argue as three lives later and he was still dying in the defense of someone or something, whether it was Hogwarts, family, or a random stranger. 'There does seem to be a theme,' he agreed hesitantly.
"Harry!" Hermione's voice cut into his silent conversation and Harry was startled as he turned to look at her with wide eyes. Ron was also looking at him oddly from where he sat next to them in the common room.
"Sorry," he apologized. "What were you saying?"
Hermione huffed in annoyance. "I was trying to get your attention! Honestly, sometimes it's like talking to a wall with how often you listen anymore!"
He hadn't realized that he was being obvious when talking to Gabriel. Both Ron and Hermione were looking at him, waiting for an explanation and it briefly crossed his mind that he could tell them. This was the moment where he could tell them about Hope, her three foals, and the tree that held the memories of all his past lives. He could tell them about his memories given conscience inside his head and he could tell them of the abilities that he was slowly regaining as he watched more and more of his old memories. The magical aura's that surround the castle, magical objects, and the students and staff were slowly becoming more and more defined as time went on, although Gabriel assured him that what he was seeing now was nothing compared to what their full vision scope was.
However, Harry found that he didn't want to tell them. Gabriel wasn't some deep dark secret, he was Harry. Older and wiser, yeah, but he was still Harry and the black haired second year didn't see Ron and Hermione discussing the deep and interwoven aspects of themselves to him. So Harry just shrugged. "I just wish that we could have one year where nothing dangerous happens at Hogwarts."
Hermione's face morphed into sympathetic longing. "It does seem like this is becoming a theme," she said.
'It better not,' Gabriel grumbled. 'The last thing we need is to be nearly killed every year on top of being separated and basically powerless.'
This was powerless? Harry wondered as he glanced at the glowing orange, blue, and green fire in the fireplace of the Gryffindor common room. Last year, it had only looked like normal fire would but now that he looked at it, Harry could see to leftover color of the spell that had produced the flames. He was still trying to learn the different colors of each spell but the fact that, without goggles that were designed and layered with charms, he could easily see the magical residue all around him.
Yet when he looked at his own skin, besides having it glow just a tad brighter than his year mates, Harry only saw a mix of green magic swirling there. 'Why is that?' he asked.
'It's because our Grace isn't magic,' Gabriel answered, once again knowing exactly what he was asking. 'Grace, the power that is threatening to tear us apart, is a completely different power source than magic. Magic is derived from the elements and the earth but Grace comes from elsewhere, a source which is much more powerful than magic could ever hope to be.'
'Is that why Bill didn't say anything about me being different from the others? I thought for sure that he would see some sort of indication of your presence.' It had been bugging Harry since the eldest Weasley had insisted on wearing his goggles as long as he could.
'If he had, we would have known,' Gabriel said a bit darkly. 'Magic goggles or not, Grace cannot be seen the human eye without consequences.'
The way that Gabriel said 'consequences' made Harry shudder and he was suddenly glad that Bill had been unable to tell that Harry was different from them. From what he could tell, the Weasley's didn't deserve whatever horrible consequence would befall them if they look at his Grace. 'No,' Gabriel agreed, pleased at Harry's claim on their Grace. It was the first time Harry hadn't referred to something that was added after they had recombined as 'their' instead of 'his'. He wasn't going to point it out, however, and could only hope that this meant that his human counterpart was becoming more accepting of who he was. 'They don't.'
And they didn't. As a Trickster, Gabriel had become adept at reading the human soul. Sure, most angels could tell what a person was with just a glance but Gabriel had learned to go deeper than that. Every hidden desire, every dark secret that they never wanted to see the light of day, and everything they had ever done and why they had done it. Usually it was only souls that were destined for Hell that he ended up killing and the souls that weren't, well, they learned a valuable lesson...most of the time, anyways.
"Harry!" Hermione snapped once again as Harry drifted off into thought. The black haired boy startled at her irate tone and Ron's scowl ignored the other boy. Harry grimaced, already anticipating another anger rant as Ron's temper managed to get the best of him.
Gabriel remained silent.
The first Quidditch game of Gryffindor versus Slytherin in the new year was soon on them, Hermione having headed off to the library to do some more research on the monster. "I have a good idea about what it is," she had said triumphantly that morning, a stack of papers and books in her arms before she had hurried off after breakfast. Harry didn't protest her leaving, knowing that she would be far happier in the library than she would be at the game.
Oliver had been thanking him nonstop since the first Quidditch practice they had during the new term and Harry found that the older Gryffindor was still thanking him every five minutes. It was to the point that the rest of the team was just letting their captain express their thanks (for Harry had gotten the rest of them new brooms as well) and laughed at Harry's increasingly homicidal gaze. Oliver opened up the before gaming meeting by, once again, expressing his thanks to Harry.
"Better stop doing that, Oliver," Fred said as he looked at Harry's developing twitch.
"Harry here might just curse you," George added, grinning madly as the black haired boy turned his glare to them.
They were just heading out to the pitch to meet to opposing team when Professor McGonagall came flying into the pitch in a run. "This game is canceled!" she yelled to the stunned silence of the rest of the school. "All students will return to their common rooms...there has been a double attack."
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley's," she addressed Harry, the Twins, and Ron who had made his way from the pitch to walk up with Harry. "You may want to come with me."
They did, following the grim Professor up to the school and down to the Hospital Wing. "This might be hard," she warned them as she opened the door. "But I'm afraid that they were found together."
Hermione laid stiff on the bed, eyes staring unseeingly at the ceiling, glazed and her expression frightened. Harry choked back a sob when the second victim was revealed to be Percy Weasley, his eyes just as unseeing as hers. "She was found holding this," the Professor told them, holding out a mirror. "It seems that Mr. Weasley was escorting her from the library. Do you know what it means?"
Harry looked at the mirror blankly and shook his head, numb as he looked at Ron and the Twins have a complete breakdown. Despite appearances, the Twins didn't actually dislike their brother and Harry imagined seeing him lying there as if dead was devastating. Seeing Hermione there was already hard enough and Gabriel was raging and swearing in their mind, promising painful retribution when they found out who had dared attack their friend.
Harry found that he rather agreed with the dark and violent threats, sitting down heavily in the chair next to her bed, Ron taking the chair between the two beds as the Twins just stared at their petrified brother in silence. Her words from this morning came back to him. "I have a good idea about what it is." What had she discovered that she had approached Percy to escort her? Was that why she had been attacked? Had she figured out what the monster was and the Slytherin Heir had decided to eliminate her?
'It doesn't matter,' Gabriel nearly howled in anger. 'We will take them down and force them to pay either way!'
'Yes,' Harry thought as he studied the fear on Hermione's face. 'We will.'
For Hermione, they were going to make the monster shudder in fear and the Slytherin Heir wish that he had never been born.