Talking with Ron had easily brought the redhead around. Well, Harry had Hermione stay in the common room as he dragged a resisting Ron to their dorm where he sat the redhead down, explained how he found Hermione, reminded him how it felt when she'd been petrified the year before, and then calmly explained to Ron Hermione's theory.
Let it not be said that he didn't know how to speak to his friends and calm them down. Hermione had easily forgiven the redhead when he descended back into the common room to apologize sheepishly. She was well aware that Ron had an anger problem and the fact that he more often than not could keep in control was enough to keep her from blaming him for losing it after his beloved pet went missing.
They had begun searching the castle for the missing rat not long after and after two hours of fruitless searching, the three of them became resigned to the fact that the only way they were going to find the rat was if Scabbers came back on his own.
Ron spent the night morning his rat with Percy, who was still rather attached to the elderly rodent as well. Fred and George managed to keep from themselves from tormenting the two as well and they were left alone for the most part.
For the most part, everything seemed to become quiet. Snape barely said anything that was unnecessary during class and his ability to take points had been revoked. There always seemed to be another adult in the classroom with them, taking notes, and even the Slytherin's knew better than to act out. Well, most of them. The ones that tried were always punished with loss of points and a detention until they learned and frankly, potions class was finally ranked with History. No one liked it but they didn't loathed it either.
Professor Lupin seemed to disappear every month as well, though he was always promptly subbed for by a stern Professor McGonagall. Since the first absence had been by Professor Snape, the students figured that this was punishment for doing whatever it was that had the Hogwarts Board watching him.
Harry was surprised that his own involvement was being kept out of it. Everyone knew that secrets around Hogwarts didn't stay that way for long.
Which brought him to his other problem: his secret.
Children, Harry had found, were notoriously bad at keeping secrets. Ron had the tendency to blurt out whatever was on his mind when he was angry and Harry knew for a fact that Hermione was horrible at keeping anything from authority. Yet he also ran the risk of them going behind his back to find out what he was keeping from them (and they would, he knew that for a fact) so he wasn't sure what he was going to do.
Gabriel wasn't any help on the matter. The archangel had never been in this situation before and was just as lost and confused as Harry himself was. All the memories that Gabriel was screamed out against telling anyone anything about himself that could potentially be used against him.
What choice did he have but to trust them? He couldn't bring himself to push them away just to keep this from them and he knew that they wouldn't forgive him if he kept hiding it. He was lucky that they forgave him from keeping Hope and her foals from them for so long. Hell, he hadn't even told them before the class that they had met Sol and he knew that it was likely that he was going to be found out! That would have at least given them some warning!
So four months into the school year found Harry still unknowing as to what to do as he dragged his friends down to the edges of the Forbidden Forest with him.
"What's so important that we're coming all the way down here?" Ron complained, tugging his robes tighter around him to fight off the December cold. Harry, having been playing Quidditch in this weather since the end of September, was inured to the colder climate and ignored it in favor of just looking at them and trying to figure out where to start.
"This is about what you've been hiding, isn't it?" Hermione asked, looking at him knowingly. Harry gave her his best deer in the headlights expression as she smiled gently at him.
Ron looked to him expectantly. It was obvious that his friends had been discussing this when he wasn't around.
"It's hard to explain," Harry began softly. "And I'm not sure how to. Or if I should."
Ron looked distinctly hurt and Hermione was no better. "Harry, you can tell us anything!" Hermione told him.
"But could you keep it a secret?" Harry asked them seriously. "Ron's a horrible liar, and he's even worse at keeping secrets as he's prone to yelling them out in anger." Ron turned scarlet in embarrassment. "And you have trouble keeping things secret when you think that telling someone is for our own good. That didn't work out well with the Stone and it'll be even worse with this!"
Harry was getting more distressed by the moment and could only be grateful that Gabriel remained silent. Hermione was looking at him, still hurt but also contemplative. "You've been thinking a lot about this."
Harry nodded. "I want to tell you both, I really do, but I don't think I can. Not yet." Not until he knew that they would be able to keep it to themselves and wouldn't be a risk to him.
"Then we'll have to prove it to you!" Ron declared, seemingly having come to a conclusion on what to do. "We'll prove we can keep a secret and then you better tell us everything!"
Let it not be said that Ron Weasley wasn't determined. Harry and Hermione looked at him, Harry grinning slightly and Hermione nodding along.
It wasn't the best solution to it, not in the long run, but it would buy Harry some time to find a better one.
Until then, he would still have his friends.
The long quiet streak was interrupted by the attempted break in to Gryffindor Tower by one Sirius Black. Harry had nearly forgotten about his parents' traitorous friend and he didn't appreciate the reminder of the man either. Somehow, Black had gotten into the school and had known where Gryffindor Tower was. The man had gone straight to it and The Fat Lady still refused to come out of the portrait she'd taken refuge in during his assault.
The replacement portrait (Harry didn't bother learning his name) was not one that the Gryffindor's were fond of. The man was a knight of some kind and he was absolutely insane. Poor Neville was usually found locked out of the common room every night due to the man's habit of changing the password every other day. It was driving them all bonkers.
Between it all, Harry finally found time to practice with his sword again. Hogsmeade weekends left him alone in the castle and he used that time to practice maneuvering the sword as his memories told him to, building up the muscle memory that he was lacking currently.
With the sighting of Sirius Black came the increase of Dementors around the school. It didn't seem to be a problem, at first, until the entire hoard descended upon them during a Quidditch Game against Hufflepuff.
Unfortunately, Harry and Diggory were miles above the Quidditch towers chasing after the snitch when they appeared, surrounding both of them. Harry was immediately bombarded with hundreds of memories, all of them fighting to be heard as Diggory fought to get out of the hoard, snitch forgotten.
That was when one of the Dementor's slammed into him and Harry knew that these creatures knew what he was. Could see what he was. They weren't after his soul (not that their Grace would let them have it even if they were) they were after their death.
Gabriel's alarmed shouting was drowned out by the memories assaulting him and Harry was struggling to keep ahold of his broom as he attempted to follow Diggory out of the hoard.
A Dementor that came from him above managed to knock him off the already out of control broom and Harry went free falling into the air, his wings desperately trying to keep him from falling. Unfortunately, Harry had yet to manage anything besides three inches off the ground in a tame setting and the pounding rain and gusting wind around them was keeping him regaining any altitude.
No one could see him falling as the Dementor's tried to follow him either, the weather and the cloud of black cloaks blocking him from sight. No one but Diggory that is.
The Hufflepuff seeker seemed to have noticed what the Dementors were doing and was diving after him, his hand outstretched. Harry quickly changed his tactics from trying to stay in the air to trying to slow his descent enough that the prefect could catch him, hand outstretched.
The other seeker managed it about ten feet before the start of one of the Quidditch Towers and just in time for a glowing phoenix made out of light to attack the Dementor hoard, driving the dark beings away from them.
Diggory quickly headed for the ground, Harry's added weight threatening to buckle the broom that was just as battered looking as Diggory was. Even through the rain, Harry could see the professor's running at them from the stands.
Harry, his head throbbing from the memories that still attacked him from all sides, his wings aching from the stress his freefall had put on them, and his entire body sore from the slamming the Dementor's had been doing, let himself fall unconscious as they finally reached the ground.
Harry woke to the voices of people surrounding his bed, arguing about something or another. He groaned at the sounds, his head still throbbing slightly from the abuse it had been put through.
'Next time we see one of those things, we stab it. Witnesses or not!' Gabriel's voice echoed quietly in their head. Harry frowned at the softness of the voice trying to come up with an explanation for why it was so faded.
Eight sets of new memories hit him as soon as he tired, causing him to cry out at the pain it caused.
Voices from above him sounded panicked but Harry couldn't focus enough on them to answer as he was dragged into the memories.
There was nothing around him. Just light and darkness that spread out in a wonderful and empty void. The light formed three tall beings, hovering over him as he floated effortlessly in the nothingness of Time.
"Who might you be, young one?" One of the beings asked in a language he knew but had not learned.
He thought for a moment before the answer came to him.
"I am Gabriel."
The beings seemed to be pleased with his answer.
"Welcome," the one farthest from him said. "Brother Gabriel."
Harry felt his body spasm as the memory settled him, his head threatening to burst from it.
Heaven was no longer the void it had been. Where there was once nothing but Dark and Time and Light, there was now structure. Endless swirls of fields and plants and a sky that seemed to go on for ever, glowing a soft red and orange that made him want to keeping flying until he found the colors source.
He had wings, six hundred pairs though only six ever showed at a time. He was Gabriel, archangel, the fourth of them to be born. His brothers were Samael, Michael, and Raphael but Samael was his favorite. Raphael was far too kind to do anything fun and Michael was always stern. Samael was always willing to go exploring with him, looking at everything that their Parent had created.
So many wondrous things but the Sky was his favorite.
Flying made him feel so free!
More and more memories filled him, drew him in, and Harry could only cry out in pain, begging for relief.
Was he Harry Potter, thirteen year old wizard?
Ivan, who had died before he could start to live?
Nathan who was surround by fire and smoke, and wanted his mother?
Or the Archangel Gabriel, youngest of the Pillars of Heaven?
He didn't know. He wanted to know. He wanted it to stop, wanted to be able to think.
Something warm surround his skin, liquid forced down his throat and mercifully...silence.
Cedric Diggory had learned a lot of things during his six years at Hogwarts. The first was that nothing stayed secret in Hogwarts. The second was that being a Hufflepuff meant he was underestimated. The third was that Defense Professor's never stayed more than one year. The fourth was that Gryffindor or Slytherin were the only houses that would ever win the House or Quidditch cup.
The fifth was that Harry Potter would always be the enigma of the school. Danger seemed to follow him around like a lost puppy and mysteries seem to follow in his wake. From his first year here Potter seemed to have tipped the balances of the school and seemed to be on the receiving end of the good and bad side of the rumor mill.
Cedric had reserved judgement for the tiny Gryffindor, having never really talked with the other before and therefore didn't really know him that well. Potter seemed decent enough a person in the long run though, so Cedric usually took the rumors with a grain of salt. What first year would battle a mountain troll? What second year could defeat Slytherin's monster? It was insane. Impossible.
Then he had seem forty Dementors physically attacking the Gryffindor miles above ground. That wasn't normal Dementor behavior. Dementors wanted to eat your soul, feed on your suffering, not kill you!
Except they seemed to really, really want Potter dead. Coming at him from all sides, slamming into him from above and below, knocking him every which way in the air, Cedric was amazed that it had taken as long as it had for Potter to be knocked off of the out of control broom and free fall to the ground miles below them.
It had been more on instinct than anything else when he had dived through the dozens of Dementors after the falling Gryffindor, hand outstretched in attempt to grab onto his robes and stop his fall.
Yet Potter wasn't falling like Cedric knew he should be. If anything, he was slowing down, almost staying in the air with no broom beneath him, arm and hand reaching towards his own until they managed to meet and Cedric was able to keep them from spinning out of control as the Dementors resumed their attack, only on him as well. Cedric, blinking away the memory of the icy waters of a lake surrounding him in effort to keep them both from dying.
The Patronis of Dumbledore's had been a relief, driving the Dementors away and allowing Cedric to attempt to land, Potter becoming more and more limp in his grip the longer it took.
He nearly had a panic attack when the third year passed out once they reached the pitch grass, becoming limp in his arms as Professor's swarmed the both. Cedric himself was exhausted, his body aching and his arms tingling unpleasantly from the jerking that grabbing Potter mid-air had brought. The Gryffindor Quidditch team was landing all around them, the Weasley Twins helping him up as Hagrid, bless the man, took Potter and began heading for the castle. Fred (or George?) grabbed his right arm and the other twin the left and hefted him up until he was standing before helping him follow the Care of Magical Creatures Professor to Hogwarts where Madame Pomfrey would fuss over them both.
When they got to the hospital wing, Potter was still unconscious and was being fed a mirad of potions before Snape of all people began checking him over. It made sense, considering that Potter was worse off, and it turned out that Cedric had only suffered some bruises and a torn arm muscle and the normal effects of a Dementor. One potion and some chocolate fixed him up rather quickly.
That was when the Minister of Magic himself appeared with Headmaster Dumbledore. The Minister looked at them both and paled while Dumbledore actually began yelling at the man. Cedric watched in glee as the aged Headmaster tore into the Minister with a rage Cedric hadn't known that he was capable of.
This wasn't the eccentric old man that twinkled at them from the Head Table but the defeater of Grindelwald and the only man You-Know-Who ever feared. This was a pissed off warrior and Cedric knew that it was unlikely he'd ever see this side of the grandfatherly old man again.
Even Lucius Malfoy, who appeared out of nowhere from what Cedric could tell, stayed clear of the raging old man. Cedric could even see an amazed gleam enter the blond man's eyes.
Then Fudge actually tried to argue with Headmaster. Cedric didn't know whether to mourn the man's stupidity or applaud his bravery and he would never find out as Potter groaned from his bed, catching the attention from everyone in the room.
Madame Pomfrey tried to get his attention, hovering over him. Fudge seemed to be trying to talk to the boy as well, something about everything being alright?
Then Potter screamed, a horrible wail that would haunt him forever, back arching from the bed before he began convulsing.
Cedric didn't know who was more horrified out of them all, but the room flew into a panic as they tried to figure out what was wrong with the Gryffindor and stabilize him. Cedric himself was forgotten in the flurry of robes and movement that followed. He could only grip the hands of each Weasley Twin as they watched the black haired boy thrash and scream.
Then it grew silent, Potter fell still, and everyone around him panicked.
"He's not breathing!" Pomfrey cried.
The panic that followed was worse than before and Cedric moved faster than they could stop him, running to Potter's still form before beginning CPR.
His mother had always found muggle medicine fascinating and had taught both magical and muggle first aid over the summer. Magic wasn't working here and Cedric ignored the people around him as he performed the methods his mother had taught him.
Potter gasped a breath against his mouth and Cedric allowed himself to be pulled away with a sob of relief. Pomfrey went about stabilizing him while two redhead practically clung to him, crying. Cedric wondered, then, how long it had been since the Weasley Twins had adopted their little brother's friend as their surrogate sibling but allowed them to cling to him in thanks.
A stunned Snape ordered the Twins out as Pomfrey announced him to be stable and Cedric was given one more potion and pushed down onto the bed.
Sleep claimed him moments later.