To the shock of everyone, himself included, Harry managed to keep out of the Moody Problem. Harry wasn’t sure if that was because he was busy trying for figure out the clue for the Second Task or if he just got lucky, for once. Either way, he was just as surprised as the rest of the student body when he came in for breakfast one day and Moody was gone. In his place, smiling happily at them all was one Sirius Black.
“What’s Sirius doing here?” Hermione whispered to him.
Harry shrugged, not wanting to say anything without getting the official story from Sirius just yet. Ron and Hermione were already going to be annoyed at being left out of the loop and Harry didn’t know how much he’d be able to say without implicating himself at least somewhat.
Taking a seat, Harry managed to keep up a confused expression for the rest of the Great Hall. He hadn’t really expected anything to be done on the Moody front for at least a few more days. It was obvious that he’d underestimated Sirius and Remus, now that he thought about it.
The whispers in the Great Hall resembled more of a rushing river more than actual whispers. Some didn’t even bother keeping their voices down and were loudly speculating on the disappearance of Moody. Harry couldn’t help but snicker at the more outrageous theories circulating the Great Hall. It was one of those cases were the truth was stranger than fiction, though the fiction was much more amusing to listen to. Honestly, a declared dead Death Eater kidnapping and posing as Madeye Moody only to be caught by a resurrected Archangel in the form of Harry Potter wasn’t nearly as amusing as Moody being a spy for an Alien race bent on controlling the Earth.
“I think you’ve been reading too much science fiction,” Harry informed a snickering Dean Thomas, the one responsible for that particular rumor.
“There is no such thing,” Dean insisted, looking quite pleased with himself. Even if half the student population had no idea what an alien was, those in the know were certainly having a fun time with that one.
Hermione chocked back a laugh, clearing her throat instead as Ron tried to figure out what an alien was. So far, the redhead hadn’t guessed the right answer and his guessing were getting more and more bizarre. Harry finally took pity on him.
“Aliens are sentient creatures that originate from a planet other than Earth,” Harry whispered in his ear.
“Wait, what?” Ron turned wide eyes towards his dark haired friend. Harry nearly broke down in laughter at the look on his face.
“They’re not real, Ron,” Hermione finally said, not bothering to hold back her laughter anymore. “It’s just a speculation made by muggles. No one has ever found any proof.”
“Sometimes muggles report being abducted,” Harry added, just to be as unhelpful as possible. Teasing Ron over muggle knowledge was always amusing.
“Harry!” Hermione laughed harder, ruining the scolding tone she’d been going for. “Honestly!”
Harry snickered and shrugged. Ron was just too easy sometimes. The redhead made a face at him before turning to Hermione, obviously intent on ignoring him for the rest of the meal.
′Worth it,′ Gabriel laughed. Harry agreed.
“May I have your attention please?” Dumbledore’s voice boomed from the head table. The Great Hall didn’t die down at all, in fact it sounded louder than before. Harry turned his attention onto the Headmaster, interested in how he was going to handle the added noise.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled and he raised his wand to his mouth. “QUIET!” His voice boomed through the Great Hall and deafened half of the occupants.
′Wow that was loud,′ Gabriel grimaced. Harry was too busy covering his ears to bother acknowledging the comment. He definitely hadn’t expected that.
Neither had anyone else. The Great Hall immediately became silent, everyone going quiet instantly and turning their attention onto the standing Headmaster. Dumbledore was still smiling happily though Harry could see amusement flashing in the old man’s eyes instead of the normal twinkle. “Now that I have your attention, there is an announcement I would like to make.”
“As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Professor Moody is not present for breakfast today. I am sad to say that this is because our professor has had an accident and will likely not be returning for the rest of the year.” Dumbledore paused, letting them take that information in. “In his place, Sirius Black as offered to take over the Defense classes. As a former Auror and war veteran, Professor Black is quite qualified for this job. I hope that you will all show him the proper amount of respect during his time here with us.”
′Accident is certainly one way to describe it,′ Gabriel mused. ‘Though I would have been more clear on the accident. No one is going to buy that vague excuse.’
He wasn’t wrong, either. No one looked like they bought that Moody had an ‘accident’. Anyone who had attended one of his classes knew what a paranoid bastard the man was. Harry glanced around and found quite a few people glancing in his direction.
“Are they looking at me because Sirius is my godfather or because they think I know what actually happened to Moody?” Harry wondered aloud.
“Both, most likely,” Hermione sighed. “It’s like they think you know everything that goes on in this school. Honestly, how would you know what happened with Moody?”
Harry kept his face neutral and nodded in agreement. Hermione frowned at him, her eyes narrowed. “I don’t know where they get these ideas,” he sighed, making sure to look put out over it all.
“Huh, you do know, don’t you?” Ron blinked at him. Harry blinked back.
“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” he said evenly, putting on his most innocent expression.
Hermione snorted. “You’ll be giving us a full explanation later,” she informed him, pointing her fork in his direction.
′Oh well,′ Gabriel snickered. ‘It’s not like we actually expected them to buy that.’
“I’m sorry, what?!” Hermione shrieked. For the third time.
“I’m not explaining it again!” Harry finally snapped. “I’m not going to suddenly change the story because you can’t believe it.”
Hermione huffed in response. Thankfully, Ron interrupted before she could begin a rant. “You have to admit, mate, it does sound rather out there. I’m surprised Fred and George have managed to keep quiet at all.”
Harry just sighed. “I know,” he finally admitted. “I’m just surprised I actually managed to mostly stay out of it. I kind of expected to end up in a life or death situation before this mess was taken care of.”
Hermione frowned at him, concern obvious in her face and eyes. “It does seem a little too easy.” She rubbed a hand over her face, a habit that she had started recently developing to calm herself down when something particularly upsetting happened.
“I’m half expecting to find out that Crouch escaped.” Harry shrugged. “I mean, I suppose that Dumbledore could have decided to handle it himself but when has the Ministry ever done something useful? They managed to lose Pettigrew!”
“I’m with Harry,” Ron finally spoke up. “There’s more to this than we know. Nothing has ever been this easy!”
Hermione groaned but nodded. “We should speak to Sirius.”
Speaking to Sirius ended up being harder than it should have been. Harry probably should have expected it yet he’d actually managed to lose track of the date. So before he was able to corner his godfather, news of the Yule Ball circled the school.
“I can’t believe I almost completely forgot about Christmas,” Harry marveled to himself after the announcement.
Ron chocked beside him while Hermione blinked in surprise. “How could you forget Christmas! It’s next week!”
“I was more focused on the Tournament,” Harry admitted.
“That was weeks ago!” Ron exclaimed.
“Well, then there was the thing with Moody,” Harry trailed off.
“And you forgot what month it was,” Hermione sighed. “I don’t know why either of us are surprised by this. It has been an eventful few weeks. Though I’m not sure why you haven’t heard of the Yule Ball before now. It was announced before the First Task.”
“It was?” Harry asked, bewildered.
′We did spend a significant amount of time in the library,′ Gabriel pointed out. ‘It easily could have been announced during one of those outings. Cedric seems to be completely lost too, so I’m leaning towards that.’
The Hufflepuff did look like a deer in the headlights, Harry mused. Not that Cedric would know what a headlight was but that was besides the point. “Cedric doesn’t seem to have heard this before either so we were probably studying in the library.”
Hermione turned to look at the older boy and sighed. “You’re both hopeless. Everyone in the school has already gotten dates. It’ll be a miracle if you find someone to go with in time. Not to mention the champions have to open the ball.”
Harry stopped eating and stared at her. “They want us to dance?!”
′We suck at dancing!′ Gabriel yelped.
Hermione suddenly looked more amused than resigned. “The waltz,” she added in with a wicked smile.
Harry whined. “I suck at dancing!”
“We have to ask someone to go with?!” Ron whimpered. The redhead seemed to have just processed that part of Hermione’s statement.
Hermione looked at them both and laughed. “You’re hopeless!” she giggled. “No Ron, you don’t have to have a date. You don’t even have to attend.”
Ron gave her an unimpressed look. “Mum would skin me if I ditched,” he grumbled just loud enough for them to hear. Harry winced, recognizing the truth behind that statement. “And she’d never let it go if I didn’t ask someone with.”
Hermione winced. “I’m sure you’ll find someone,” she tried to reassure him. Turning her attention back to Harry, she grinned. “You too. In fact, if I know that look you already have someone in mind.”
Harry did, in fact, have someone in mind. “The announcement said only fourth years and up could come without a date, right?” At least, that was what the Headmaster had said in his reminder announcement.
Hermione nodded. “Everyone else has to come with a date.”
“Then I know just who to ask!” Harry grinned brightly at her before standing up and exiting the Great Hall without looking back.
′This is going to be fun.′
Luna, of course, agreed right away. She was pleasantly surprised by his question and didn’t stop grinning for the entire day.
The only real problem Harry found with the whole thing was not being able to go home for the holidays. He’d been excited about spending his first Christmas with Sirius and Remus; he’d gotten their presents months ago. And it would be the first Christmas he wasn’t surrounded by Weasley’s on all sides as well.
′At least Sirius will be at the castle too,′ Gabriel tried to comfort him though he was just as annoyed by this development.
‘True but that leaves Remus alone,’ Harry grumbled internally.
′We could always sic Mrs. Weasely on him,′ Gabriel pointed out. ‘I’m sure she’d be glad to kidnap him and hold him hostage for the course of the holidays.’
“Good point,” Harry mused aloud.
“Are you talking to yourself again, Harry?” Luna asked curiously from over by the books. They had traveled back down into the chamber again and were exploring the study. It was a Hogsmeade weekend, so no one would notice that they were gone for a while. It had been a good period of time since they had come back down as well.
“Yup,” Harry grinned at her. “I make good points once in a while.”
′You bet I do!′ Gabriel sassed back.
Luna giggled at them, always seeming to know what Gabriel was saying or at least the general gist of it. It had bothered the at first though they had come to accept that part of Luna’s quirks.
“Any luck with those books?” Harry changed the subject. He’d learned that focusing on the things that Luna could do just ended up with a headache, no matter if he ever figured out the reason behind her abilities or not.
Luna gave him a knowing look before smiling and picking up what looked to be a rather old journal. Harry frowned at it for a moment, no recognizing it from when he’d combed the book shelf after he’d gotten stuck down here. “It’s a really enlightening read,” she told him dreamily and tossed it to him.
Harry caught the book in surprise and flipped it open. ‘That’s not possible,’ Gabriel breathed.
It wasn’t any normal journal, Harry could tell that right away. The text was partially written in Enochian, for one. “Azrael?” he mumbled, the name feeling like something he should know but was just out of his reach.
Luna turned to look at him, surprise flashing across her face. “You can read the inscription?” she asked, eyes wide.
Harry glanced up at her and let out a wince. He probably shouldn’t have said that out loud. It was obvious Luna had been intending for him to read the English sections. “I can.” He acknowledged. A pleading look had Luna letting the matter drop for now before he scanned through the first section, which was written completely in English.
If you are reading this journal, left here in this carven until it finds the hands in which it was intended, I ask that you do not go any further in reading this. I ask that once you have finished this passage, you set the book down from where it was found to be forgotten and left untouched.
I write this with the knowledge that one day, it will find its way to the proper recipient.
I, the humble sibling and underling to those far greater than I shall ever be, leave this book to reach the hands of my brother, the Trumpeter and soothsayer.
Gabriel and Harry sucked in a breath, eyes wide in realization. This book, found by Luna from wherever it had been hidden away, was meant for him. Them.
Brother, when you read this, know that your path was always meant to lead here. I know not if you remember me, remember us all, at the time you read this. Perhaps this will find you before you are back to yourself, before you are fully aware of all that has happened.
Know this, your death and resurrection were always to take place as they did. You were always meant to find your way to place, to become aware of the problems that plague this Earth. The breach here consumes the inhabitants, twisting them in ways that were never meant to be twisted, in ways not even the Lightbringer would have dared try at his worst.
Brother, you have been through so much. You are the only of the four to come out of it for the better and perhaps not even our Father knew in what ways you were to change. Yet this has always been the plan, since before the Lightbringer first lost his way.
You surely have noticed the similarities between your situation and that of the Human Fallen. It was not by mistake that these similarities exist, brother. This, the change to humanity and the lessons that it would teach us, has always been our fate. A fate that the dead were always to experience. A fate that all who have perished will share in.
You are not alone brother. I wish that I could be there to comfort you, as you have comforted me. Alas, I cannot and for that I apologize.
It is not meant to be, perhaps it never will be. I cannot be sure for that is not my ability.
Yet you are not alone. You are never alone, not even when it seems as if that is the case.i cannot tell you everything. I cannot even give you a hint to it all. It has been forbidden.
Brother, I worry about what is to come. There are dangers on the horizon, dangers that our Father wishes to prevent, to keep from gaining strength. Dangers that began with the Fall. With your power so limited, I worry that these dangers will be too much for you.
The written word has never been my strength and I find myself having trouble explaining, translating my thoughts into the limited words of this language. I, however, am forced to try for I am the only of our many siblings to know the truth of this knowledge without experience. Not even the Pale Rider knows the truth of our deaths and it pains me to keep this knowledge to myself. To withhold comfort from our siblings with each death we experience. It is hard, to watch our siblings grieve for those we have lost and be unable to comfort them.
Yet I do as I must, as our Father orders. And I patiently await the day were the truth will no longer be mine to guard. You will be the first. The first to rise again, to awaken and know the lesson for which you were meant.
I watch over you now, even as you go about your human lives, unaware of the truth. Of what is missing though you know something is. I will still be watching once this journal reaches you, yet I will never show myself. It is not my place to interfere.
I wish you well, brother. This journal, given to me to leave for you, will reveal its secrets as you need. Do not rush it, brother. Time will tell all.
Do not call for me, Trumpeter. I will not come.
“Harry?” Luna asked, somewhat hesitant. She was worried, Harry acknowledged to himself though he couldn’t bring himself to comfort her as he usually would.
Gabriel was painfully silent and the quiet rang loudly in their shared minds. It was a silence that Harry wasn’t used to, didn’t know how to deal with. Gabriel was always there, always a small buzzing in the back of his head even when he wasn’t talking. It was almost as if the Archangel had disappeared entirely.
“Harry, is something wrong?” Luna asked again. “Is it that book?” It was uncharacteristic of Luna to come out and ask. To lose all pretense of a dream character, her face serious in a way he’d not seen it before. In a way that disturbed him to see at all.
The buzzing returned, Gabriel seemingly brought back from his shocked state by Luna’s presence. “I don’t know.” Harry told her, not even lying. Not really.
He didn’t know Azrael. He didn’t know the Pale Rider or the Lightbringer. He didn’t know what plan was being discussed. He didn’t have even a vague recollection of comforting this unknown sibling.
Which is why he didn’t know why he felt the stirring of pain betrayal in his chest. Or why, for just a second, he felt like screaming in grief and rage.
Harry dropped the book, letting it hit the floor with a soft thud.
Gabriel didn’t say a word.